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A Sommelier’s Free Associations About Champagne
By Madeline Triffon, Wine Director, Unique Restaurant Corp.

Champagne has yet to curl up comfortably in the American dining subconscious. We don’t generally consider it as a cocktail option unless someone suggests it to us. We "save it" for special occasions, for destination dining. It’s high time our culture discovers what a spectacular and versatile quaff Champagne is! Let me count some of the ways and reasons I love Champagne:


• You can correctly and enthusiastically drink Champagne throughout a meal. An all-Champagne dinner is one of our most popular special events. Such an evening celebrates different styles of bubbly paired in thrilling matches that still wines couldn’t duplicate.

• Champagne is soothingly versatile, particularly with "problematic" foods: tart dressings, sweet and spicy sauces (barbecue!), hot-hot dishes.

• Champagne creates an occasion, an event.

• Champagne is remarkably stable and travels better than almost any other type of wine. It needs just a day or so to settle after a plane trip.

• Nothing refreshes a palate from deep-fried foods (wontons, calamari, fancy fries) like a light-bodied Brut.

• Do you crave a dramatic juxtaposition of texture and flavor? Munch on a chunk of a firm salty cheese like Parmesan or Asiago while sipping on an Extra Brut or a Blanc de Blanc.

• Champagne’s racy acidity, perceived as a pleasant mouth-puckering effect, sparks our appetite in an insistent way.

• The ultimate palate cleanser, Champagne cuts through a mouth-coating cream sauce like nobody’s business.

• Champagne is the Sublime wrapping itself around the commonplace, like wearing flawless pearls with soft jeans. Try a cracker crust Margherita Pizza (fresh tomato slices, mozzarella & basil) with a glass of bubbly. Or better still: spicy Mexican food with a fruity refreshing Extra Dry.

• Champagne dissolves all social barriers: isn’t it appropriate for everybody in the room to raise a glass at a wedding or when singing-in the New Year?

• For us chocoholics: Death by Chocolate, Dark Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Soufflé, decadent dark chocolate anything will bill and coo with an off-dry Blanc de Noirs.

• A glass of Champagne offered to someone you admire or love makes them feel special.

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