Who would have thought of pairing Champagne and cheese together? The idea appeared quite alien to me until I tried it for myself. In actual fact this is a fantastic match and why wouldn’t it be? Two products which are inherently and ostentatiously French, both expressed in a huge variety of delightful styles. What could be more fun than finding matches between the two?!
Cheese is more often than not a better match for white wine, of which Champagne is of course made from. Champagne is the result of the second fermentation process and Cheese a result of maturation. Both have one common factor, time. Time is the element of the whole production process which brings us the beautiful array of aromas and flavours associated with both products.
Champagne is often reserved for aperitifs which, if you think about it, seems absurd given its richness of flavours- flavours which would compliment and marry so well with so many different ingredients.
One reason why Champagne marries well with cheese is due to the effervescence- the bubbles create a wonderful lift which help break down the acids and butterfats. Champagnes also have a degree of acidity and sweetness that gives them a special affinity for certain cheeses, especially the rich, buttery triple-cremes and Brie types. Champagnes are good at breaking down some of the denser, more aged, mountain cow’s milk cheeses, dissolving them into sweet, creamy finishes.
This week, we are celebrating our Bénédicte Jonchère Champagne range. We have two styles which are absolutely delightful and would marry perfectly with a whole range of cheeses- Bénédicte Jonchère Grand Reserve Brut and Bénédicte Jonchère Rose. Mr and Mrs Jonchère are one of my favourite récoltant-manipulant Champagne producers, who are involved in every stage of their winemaking from growing the grapes to blending, ageing and remuage. You can really taste the results: pure, artisanal and full of character.
Pairing them so as to bring out the best of both the Champagne and the Cheese is a relatively straightforward affair if you follow some simple rules:
Llimit yourself to a few cheeses, three maximum. To have too many cheeses and therefore flavours would simply overwhelm the champagne and render the marrying process nearly impossible. Concentrating on how a simple two or three cheeses interact allows you to really appreciate and consider the effects of the Champagne-Cheese match.
Avoid blue cheeses which have a tendency to overpower the delicate aromas of Champagne.
For softer cheeses like a soft goats cheese or cheeses that are fairly light in flavour, stick to the fresher and lighter styles of Champagne.
Finally for more firm or flavoursome cheeses, match with champagne with a fuller body such as that of a Rose Champagne or a Vintage Champagne.
Here are a couple of ideas that would go with our Bénédicte Jonchère range:
How about our Bénédicte Jonchère Brut with a creamy Chaource Cheese from the Aube in Champagne? The cheese itself has delicious hints of mushrooms and a smooth creamy finish which the champagne only helps to accentuate.
Prefer your cheese slightly more smelly? I know I do and one of my favourite cheeses from France is Epoisses from Burgundy and is a perennial favourite of fans of strong smelling cheese. It has a washed rind, pungent flavour and a spoonable, silky paste. In terms of pairing, you really need a Champagne that can stand up to those strong flavours- a Vintage Champagne or our wonderfully complex Bénédicte Jonchère Rose would marry perfectly.
What Cheeses do you think match well with Champagne? Please feel free to let us know!