Is Champagne really the best match for fish and chips?
Now, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to share with you my musings with my other half last Friday night. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin…
Discussing the possible delights for supper (I had been enticed down the gym with promises of dinner…) we realised it had been a while since we had savoured the truly British Friday night supper that is fish and chips (not Cod, it’s endangered don’t you know, but other beauties such as Pollock and Coley with big fat hand-cut chips).
Great, I thought. Health-conscious as I am, it is good for the soul to have a treat once in a while. I’ll just go check the wine rack to see what‘s in…Hubby didn’t seem to think there was a good wine match for fish and chips, so I mentioned in passing the theory that Champagne works wonders with such a dinner.
Hence followed quite an interesting, albeit short, discussion. You see, in theory, Champagne works. The main factor in fish and chips, when considering wine and food matching, is the grease involved. You need a lot of zippy acidity to cut through all that fat. Champagne has this, and the bubbles help to lift and cleanse the palate and cut through the batter.
Yum. In practice it works, too. I can honestly say that there is a charming novelty in sitting down to a humble bag of fish and chips with a bottle of fizz. Though in my mind, it has a romantic edge where you are sitting on the floor eating by candlelight having just moved in to your dream home surrounded by boxes, or during a power cut on a cold, rainy night when you are unable to use the oven.
The more rational side of my mind says that humble food should be matched with humble wines. Fish and chips are not to be eaten with silver service, but out of newspaper with your fingers and a paper napkin. A cheerful Sauvignon Blanc will do just fine, or a really crisp Chenin with a hint of sweetness to enhance the gentle sweetness of the fish (especially haddock).
So yes, it is fun to enjoy Champers with fish and chips, but not every day. It detracts from the ‘treat’ factor. Just make sure it is a non-vintage Champagne when you do decide to make the occasion. Save the Vintage Krug for another day…
For the Big Spenders…
Celebrate in style with our elegant and crisp Roger Legros Non-Vintage Champagne, a steal at £19.
For Affordable Luxury…
Try the Cremant de Bourgogne Prestige, a Champagne – style sparkler from Burgundy. Made predominantly (90%) from Champagne grape varieties, it’s a bargain at £11.
Food and Wine Matching:
Wine and Fats – A Match Made in Heaven?
Fat comes in all shapes and sizes, and a whole manner or guises – fish pan-fried in butter, rich creamy sauces, cheese, pork crackling, olive oil and oily fish to name just a few. What wines have got what it takes to whip fat into shape?
Fat Sticks – Fat has a tendency to coat the mouth and block the taste buds, and can hang around for ages afterwards.
Acidity is Refreshing – Acidity cuts through any fatty residue to clean and refresh the palate ready for the next mouthful
So What Works?
Any wine with a good whack of acidity will be more than a match for fatty foods or dressings. Sauvignon Blanc and crisp Chardonnay such as Chablis work wonders for the whites, Italian Chianti and Primitivo (Zinfandel) back up the reds. Richer, mature cheeses prefer oaked Chardonnays with good residual acidity. Champagne is a cracking match for oily smoked salmon – try the Roger Legros Non Vintage Brut at £19. Crisp citrus with nuances of brioche, this is an award-winning wine from an award-winning estate in the heart of Champagne.
Sauternes and other dessert wines are a great option not to be overlooked – rich sweetness balanced by cleansing acidity, it works wonderfully with pate and fois gras. Try our Monbazillac, an elegant dessert wine full of honey and crisp citrus.
It also pays to bear in mind the ratio of fat in the food to the acidity in the wine – lots of oil will need lots of acidity, a drizzle not so much. Generally speaking, wines from cooler climates tend to have better acidity than those from hotter climates, as the ripening process is slower.
Anything to Avoid?
Just anything without a nice acidic kick really – otherwise the wine will just taste really flat and flabby. Merlot and Pinot Grigio don’t usually have what it takes to cut through all that fat.
One definite no-no is tannic wines with oily fish – the result is a horrible metallic clash in the mouth. Not nice.