Pink or rosé champagne is a deliciously subtle and sensitive glass of bubbly, making it incredibly versatile when it comes to food pairings. Not to be confused with the cheap and sweet “pink champagne” of the 1980s, a contemporary pink champagne can be as dry as a typical brut champagne and is made either by leaving black grape skins and juice to macerate or, more often, by adding red wine to the cuvée (champagne batch). The result is a real stunner: a more well-rounded and fruit forward tipple which is perfect as a refreshing summer meal. Popularised around the 1960s, modern pink champagne has become a restaurant staple due to its rounded body, acidity and sweetness.
When choosing which food goes well with a champagne, it is important to note the sweetness of the glass. A classic choice like Laurent-Perrier Rose, which is a dry brut variation, is well adapted to both aperitif pairings and a main meal of poultry, lobster or seafood. Further yet, it goes lovely when balanced against a similarly fruity dessert. With that being said, here are our five food pairings for one of the most adaptable drinks: pink champagne.
If you have a lighter bodied pink champagne, it is best shown off with your first nibble, particularly if a fish like salmon (try a puff or blini) or a shellfish is involved. Even the richer fat of a meat and cheese charcuterie will be cut through by a crisp sparkling rosé. As top New York sommelier Thomas Carter has noted, “it’s very hard to make a wrong match”, so it fits the aperitif bill very well, pairing with most food accompaniments, refreshing the palate and contributing to the celebratory occasion.
It seems obvious that the fruity characteristics of a good pink champagne should compliment a dessert. Strawberry in particular sings with champagne like an operatic duo. The chef Christopher Bailey of La Belle Assiette in London recommends a buttermilk panna cotta with red summer fruits and berries as the perfect pink champagne pairing, but a simple strawberry panna cotta will also be divine.
Lobster is often paired with Chardonnay, but a pink champagne with its medium body, provides a perfect accompaniment to lobster. The chef Alexis Gauthier recommends a warm lobster with grain mustard as a great pairing for pink champagne, as the nutty mustard and sweet coral heighten the flavour of the pink champagne.
A spicy Moroccan lamb tagine, although packing a complex and serious flavour punch, is balanced by the sweetness and acidity in a good pink champagne. The makers of Veuve Clicquot’s vintage rosé believe the two balance one another out and we agree. Very few wines can match the flavour profile of spicy dishes without being too sweet.
Japanese food runs the gamut of fresh and light to rich, salty and fatty. Although pink champagne can dance with most Japanese dishes, sushi really is an ideal pairing. The deep flavours of some maki and sushi fish — and their salty soya dip or ginger accompaniments — are balanced well by a rosé’s body and profile. Salmon, as we know, goes all too well with pink champagne, but zingy ponzu dressings and fiery sauces go incredibly well with the drink too, as one Ginza restaurant has found out.