What kind of food goes with Champagne - the most famous sparkling wine in the world? The answer is: many! In order to master Champagne food pairing, you need to know the different styles of this popular wine. This wine guide will help you find the best food parings for five different styles of Champagne.
Published May 7th 2021
Champagne food pairing does not have to be overly complicated. Champagne is a versatile and food friendly wine that can pair well with almost anything. Although, it is important to keep in mind that there are different styles and sweetness levels of Champagne and they all pair with different dishes. This wine guide will help you better understand how to pair different styles of Champagne with food.
First of all, let’s clarify what Champagne is. Champagne is not a grape variety, but a style of sparkling wine. Only sparkling wine produced in the wine region Champagne in northern France can be labelled Champagne.
Champagne can only be made using the following grape varieties:
Small amounts of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Petit Meslier and Arbande can also be used. Wine producers in Champagne must follow many different rules. In addition to the specific grape varieties that can be used, they also need to follow rules about specific vineyard practices and pressing methods.
Champagne is always produced with the so called Méthode tranditionalle, formerly known as Méthode Champenoise. This is the traditional method of making Champagne and consists of two steps of fermentation. The most important and unique part of this method is the second fermentation, which takes place in the bottle. It is also during the second step that the wine develops its bubbles and transforms from a still to a sparkling wine.
Before we look into which food to pair with Champagne, we should understand the different styles. There are different styles of Champagne, depending on the ageing process, the grapes used in the blend, and the amount of sugar added. First, let us look into each of the five different styles of Champagne.
Non-vintage is the most common style of Champagne. It is a blend of different years’ harvests and it will not show any specific vintage (year) on the label. Instead, it will just say “Champagne”. This style is ready to drink and is not suitable for ageing for many years. This style is made with Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, if nothing else is indicated on the bottle. It is aged in the bottle for 15 months at least, before it is released on the market.
Most Champagnes are produced in this non-vintage style. When people talk about Champagne, this is the style they are usually referring to. Non-vintage Champagne is known for its light body, low alcohol crisp bubbles and flavours of citrus, mineral and toast.
Vintage Champagne is the most exclusive style of Champagne. In fact, only 5% of Champagne is made in this style. It is made with grapes from the same vintage (year). The vintage will be indicated on the label.
A vintage Champagne is always aged in the bottle for at least three years. This style can include any of the three grapes Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, or Pinot Meunier. Since it is not allowed to blend grapes from different years, this style is more difficult to make than non-vintage Champagne. During bad years, when the weather conditions are not favorable, vintage Champagne is not made.
Vintage Champagne is an interesting style which is richer and more full-bodied than the non-vintage style. Aged Champagne displays delicious flavours of brioche, nuts, baked apples, mineral, vanilla and caramel. Vintage Champagne is often described as creamy.
"Blanc de Blancs" means white from whites. It is a Champagne style produced with only the white grape Chardonnay. The label on the bottle will say Blanc de Blancs. This style is usually lighter than other Champagne styles, with lower alcohol. It has more distinct flavours of citrus, mineral and sometimes tropical fruit. It is usually made in the dry style.
"Blanc de Noirs" means white from reds. It is a Champagne produced with only the red grapes Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This style can be made with both red grape varieties or only one of them. The label on the bottle will say Blanc de Noirs. Even though this style is made only with red grapes, the wine itself is actually white. Due to the very careful pressing of the grapes, no pigment from the grape skins is transferred to the wine.
The Blanc de Noirs style is known to be slightly richer than non-vintage or Blanc de Blancs. It has characteristic red berry flavours, as well as aromas of citrus, peach and mineral.
Champagne Rosé is a pink color style which is becoming increasingly popular. This style gets its characteristic pink color from the pigment of the Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. It can be made non-vintage or vintage. Rosé Champagne has typical flavours of red berries and citrus, as well as earthy aromas.
It is crucial to understand the sweetness level of your bottle of Champagne, in order to find the best food for it. Champagne is usually made in six different sweetness levels. In order to find the best food pairing for Champagne, the sweetness level of the food needs to match the sweetness level of the wine.
Rule of thumb: Always choose a wine which is at least as sweet as the food you are having.
It is not always easy to understand the sweetness levels of Champagne due to the sometimes complicated words and indications. What is actually the difference between brut, dry and demi-sec? Here we will guide you through the different sweetness levels of Champagne.
Champagne Brut Nature or Extra Brut has the least amount sugar. This style is bone-dry with a high acidity. For this level, the wine can only have 0-6 grams of sugar per litre. Brut Nature Champagne is sometimes called Brut Zero or Champagne Zero and it can only contain 0-3 grams per liter.
If you want a Champagne with almost no sugar, this is the style for you. It is important to keep in mind that this sweetness level is not very common because it is extremely dry and acidic.
Champagne Brut is the most common sweetness level for Champagne. It is a dry wine with high acidity. Most people find this style pleasant to drink because the sweetness in this style is barely noticeable, but it still balances the high acidity. Champagne Brut can contain no more than 12 grams of sugar per liter.
The vocabulary for Champagne can be a little bit confusing and many people wonder what is the difference between Champagne Brut and Champagne Extra Sec. "Sec" means "dry" in French which makes people think that it is the most dry version. However, Brut contains less sugar and is more dry than Extra Sec.
Champagne Extra Sec, also called Extra Dry, is a dry style of Champagne. Sec means “dry”, but it is not the most dry style available. Brut Nature, Extra Brut and Brut all contain less sugar than this sweetness level. Extra Sec contains 12-17 grams of sugar per liter. It might sound like a lot of sugar, but the sweetness is barely noticeable at this level.
Now we are getting to levels where the sweetness in the wine becomes more noticeable. Don’t be fooled by the vocabulary here. As mentioned before, Sec means “dry", but Champagne Sec actually contains relatively high levels of sugar. This style has 17-32 grams of sugar per liter, which gives the wine a pleasant sweetness.
Champagne Demi-Sec is the second most sweet Champagne. It is a semi-sweet wine with 32-50 grams of sugar per liter. At this level, the sweetness is clearly noticeable and often balanced with distinct fruity aromas.
Champagne Doux is a very sweet sparkling wine which contains more than 50 grams of sugar per liter.
Tips! In our guide Sparkling Wine Sweetness Levels you can learn more about sweetness in wine.
What to eat with Champagne? The answer is: almost everything! Champagne is not only one of the most iconic wines, but also one of the most versatile and food friendly wines in the world. It is perfect for celebrations, and it pairs well with many different types of dishes and snacks.
Champagne pairs with a wide range of foods, from the most delicate shellfish dishes to deep fried foods. The key when it comes to Champagne food paring is to know what style of Champagne to choose, and the sweetness level of the wine.
In order to find the best food for your bottle of Champagne, you need to take into consideration the following characteristics of the wine:
Champagne should always be served cold. The best serving temperature 5-9°C (41-48°F).
Champagne and seafood are a match made in heaven. Keep in mind that there are many types of seafood, with different flavours and cooking methods. Champagne offers a great diversity of styles and it is important to match the type of shellfish with the right Champagne style.
Good seafood pairings for Champagne are:
Tips! When pairing Champagne with shellfish, always balance the richness of the food and the wine.
Champagne is great with a variety of fish dishes. The low alcohol and subtle flavours of Champagne will not overwhelm the delicate flavours of the fish. Almost all Champagne has citrus flavours which pair perfectly with fish dishes.
Good fish pairings for Champagne include:
Due to its high acidity and bubbles, all styles of Champagne pair perfectly with deep-fried food. The acidity will cut through the fat which creates a delicious wine and food pairing. Try Champagne with one of the following:
Champagne with a touch of sweetness is an excellent choice for pairing with spicy foods. The sweetness in the wine will balance the heat in the food. Choose a wine with higher sweetness levels, such as Champagne Sec or Demi-sec, and make sure to serve the wine cold (5-9°C/41-48°F).
With its good acidity and citrus aromas, Champagne is an excellent choice for many different vegetarian dishes. The lean and mineral non vintage Champagne pairs well with many different types if vegetables and with salty and fatty cheeses.
Tips! In our wine guide for vegetarian food you can learn more about the best wine for vegetarian dishes.
Cheese and Champagne are great together. There are many different types of cheese, and some of them don't match well with Champagne. In fact, some strong pungent cheeses like blue cheese will overwhelm the delicate aromas of Champagne. Don't waste your good wine on bad cheese and wine pairings.
Due to its high acidity, Champagne pairs very well with soft and creamy cheeses, such as:
Champagne can also be a good choice for semi-soft aged cheeses from the Alpes, such as Gruyère and Comté. Keep in mind that Champagne is a delicate wine, and in order to bring out the flavours of the wine you need an equally light cheese. Champagne and cheese pairing is all about balance. You can also try to pair it with a cheese from the Champagne region, such as Chaource cheese.
Tips! Learn more about wine and cheese in our guide about wine and cheese pairing.
Champagne is a versatile wine and can also be paired with heavier dishes, including meat and poultry. You just need to choose the right Champagne for the right dish! Champagne might not be the first choice for a steak (a full-bodied red is probably a better pairing), but it is possible.
Some good Champagne and meat parings include:
What snack goes well with Champagne? Many! Champagne is the perfect wine for a mingle. Many parties start with a glass of Champagne because it is fresh and festive. Champagne is great wine for pairing with many different types of appetizers, canapes and finger foods. Due to its relatively low alcohol levels, Champagne will not overwhelm the food. For an appetizer or mingle, the best is usually to serve a Brut, Extra Sec or Sec.
Appetizers, snacks and finger foods that go with Champagne include:
Champagne can also be a good wine pairing for a charcuterie board. A rosé Champagne or Blanc de Noirs Champagne are often the best pairings with charcuterie, but a rich vintage Champagne can also work. Avoid spicy charcuterie.
Champagne can be a surprisingly great combination with different types of pizza. A non-vintage Champagne will pair well with classic pizzas as well as white pizza (no tomato sauce, only cheese).
Tips! Find the best wine pairing for your pizza in our Wine and Pizza guide.
What fruit goes with Champagne? Well, it depends on the style and sweetness level of the wine. Since Champagne naturally has a high level of acidity, it will pair well with many fruits and berries, such as strawberries and raspberries. Stone fruits like peaches and apricots are usually good fruit pairings with any Champagne. A rosé Champagne or a Blanc de Noirs is usually great pairings with red berries.
Tips! Make sure you choose a Champagne with a touch of sweetness (Extra Sec, Sec or Demi-Sec) in order to balance the sweetness in the fruit.
Champagne is the most popular wine for celebrations. It is also an excellent wine for desserts, but make sure to choose a sweet style. A dry Champagne (Extra brut, Brut, Extra sec) will not taste good with a sweet birthday cake. Champagne Demi-sec or Doux are the best choices for a birthday cake or other sweet desserts.
The best Champagne dessert pairings are:
Champagne works with almost all types of foods, but some foods are better to avoid because they will overwhelm the delicate aromas of the wine. When drinking Champagne, avoid:
The lean, fresh and mineral style of non-vintage Champagne pairs very well with lighter dishes, such as seafood, fish and salty cheeses. The best food paring for this type of Champagne depends on the sweetness level, so start by looking into that.
Good parings for non-vintage Champagne include:
Vintage Champagne is a bit more complex and richer than non vintage Champagne. It has bolder flavours of nuts, cream and toast which pairs well with rich, but simple dishes. Good pairings for vintage Champagne include:
Blanc de Blancs Champagne tend to be lighter and slightly more crisp and dry compared to many other Champagnes. This style is great with light dishes with seafood or fish. The flavours of lime, lemon and mineral will match the freshness of any shellfish. It is also great with deep-dried food or as an aperitif.
Blanc de Noirs Champagne is usually slightly richer than the typical non-vintage Champagne. Together with the distinct berry aromas, the Blanc de Noirs pairs well with the following dishes:
Rosé Champagne has flavours of red berries, citrus and earth. It pairs well with charcuterie, duck, and different types of snacks and finger foods. It also pairs well with fruit and berries.
Champagne Demi-Sec or Doux are the two sweetest styles of Champagne. They pair well with a wide range of desserts, such as:
Tips! Never drink a dry Champagne with a sweet dessert. It is a waste of good wine!
Enjoy your food with your bottle of Champagne!