Rosé masterclass: Here’s how to pair rosé champagne with food

21st Jun 19 | Lifestyle

This is your guide to the styles, and which pretty pinks work best with a medley of dishes, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

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There are two styles of wine the world can’t drink enough of: Sparkling wine (champagne!), and rosé. Luckily, there’s room for both.

Especially when you consider how rich the rosé market is currently. Fewer than 20 years ago, king of the pinks were Billecart-Salmon and Laurent-Perrier. Today, matching our thirst for rosé champagne, most leading producers have at least one or two pinks to mix’n’ match.

Vivi Restaurant & Bar
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With this in mind, we sipped our way through a broad selection of styles at a three-course canapé lunch held in the pinkish splendour of Vivi, London, hosted by the Champagne Bureau UK, to figure out which champagnes worked best with food, and most importantly, which ingredients didn’t fit.

Six brut (dry) rosé champagnes (some more familiar than others) were picked for their diversity: Palmer Rosé Reserve, René Jolly Rosé d’Assemblage, Ruinart  Rosé, Castelnau Cuvee Brut Rosé, Drappier Rosé de Saignée and Louis Roderer Rosé 2013, the only vintage in the luxe line-up.

Six Rose Champagnes in ice buckets
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To keep things simple, pink champers is usually made by adding a small amount of red wine during blending, although some houses opt for the saignée method, where the colour comes from the skins of the black grapes (pinot noir and meunier) – all grapes are white inside.

Rosé champagne can be a blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and meunier; while some may be just pinot noir.  And when you’re faced with a wall of champagne and not sure where to start, the trick is to look at the back of the label – most brands will list the percentage of grapes in the wine. So, if you see 85% chardonnay, this will lend elegance and minerality, while a high percentage of pinot noir and meunier will taste heavier and bolder.

So where does that leave the food pairing?

Rose champagnes with cold canapes
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We kicked off with three cold canapés: Cured salmon, avruga caviar and créme fraîche; fresh crab with spiced avocado;  truffled goat’s cheese, red onion jam and a parmesan wafer.

Castelnau was praised for its freshness and elegance and tasted delicious with the crab. Ruinart with its fruity, strawberry notes and rounded body worked like dream with the salmon, while René Jolly weighed in well with the rich, creaminess of goat’s cheese. All three had a generous proportion of chardonnay.

Rose champagnes with hot canapes
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This was followed by three hot canapés: Pork belly, apple puree and crackling; honey and pink peppercorn lamb cannon with a rosemary skewer; truffled wild mushrooms and crisp leeks in a brioche croute.

Here, Drappier (100% pinot noir) was my favourite with the pork, and it’s not rocket science to work this one out when you consider it’s the same grape as a still pinot noir red wine.

The complexity of the Louis Roederer vintage (67% pinot noir) lifted the lamb, which tasted quite plain in comparison. Palmer, with its 45% chardonnay, coped best with the saltiness of the mushrooms, but was still overwhelmed by the earthy flavours.

Rose champagnes with desserts
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For a sweet ending: Blackberry macaroon; battenberg; chocolate eclair.

Mm, macaroons and rosé . If a sommelier was present, they would probably have recommend a demi-sec champagne (with a higher sugar content than brut) to match sweet-on-sweet. This and the eclair were my least favourite  rosé pairings. But again, full marks to the L-P vintage with battenberg – must have been the jam sponge!

Our verdict: There’s a rosé revolution going on out there and I could happily pop the corks from dawn ’til dusk. Rosé champagne with smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast, crab cakes at lunchtime and a pinot dominant style with succulent pork for dinner. Just need to win the lottery.

Host and fellow taster, Françoise Peretti, director, Champagne Bureau, said: “We’ve gone from very light, almost non-discernable pink to incredibly full bodied and fruity.

“I think for me, the big revelation was actually dessert because we had this battenberg with almond paste and marzipan which went extremely well with Louis Roderer vintage, and the lamb and pork belly paired very well with rosé with a high content of black grapes.

“The mushrooms were far too pungent for me, and it makes common sense that you don’t match champagne with strong, fiery dishes.

“And if you want to entertain easily at home, cheeses such as parmesan and Comté go extremely well with the bold profile and nutty aromas of many rosé champagnes.”

© Press Association 2019

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