Pairing Sushi with Champagne
Matching Sushi and Veuve
Clicquot's La Grande Dame
by Alain Gayot
Grande Dame loved sushi. And so do we, especially when the fish
goes down with the refined wines of Veuve
Clicquot. Frédéric Panaïot, a young and
dynamic winemaker on the team in Reims wanted to show us that Champagne
and sushi is a perfect food pairing; after all, fishes know
their bubbles. Get chef Morihiro Onodera from Mori
Sushi in Los Angeles involved and you get a sparkling meal.
So we sampled and tasted and tasted and sampled and compared notes.
Most of the combinations worked smoothly but what stood out was
a tuna tartare with truffle (see photo) and the 1996 Vintage Reserve.
Champagne's distinct, slightly smoky first taste and the soft texture
of the Ahi complemented by the harder truffle chunks ignited our
mouths with pleasure when it was washed down by the sensual bubbles
of the 1996. The complicity of the color of the flesh of the fish
and the deeper Rosé added to the sensuous experience.
loved the 1993 La Grande Dame Rosé as a wine by itself, but
the combo of the Ahi and the 1996's distinct flavors kept us mesmerized,
our palates enthused and our bellies very happy.
Sashimi, or Crudo (as the Italians would say) in general
work well with Champagne. The usual pairing at sushi restaurants
with beer or sake is due to environmental factors. But as long as
you have a controlled amount of soy and wasabi (in traditional restaurants
the chef presets the amount of wasabi used), most Champagnes will
not only hold well against the raw fish but actually enhance the
experience. The umami flavors blend together perfectly in this kind of pairing. The earthy
and oceanic tastes come together with yeast acting as a catalyst.
The high acidity in the wine cuts through the oiliness of the fish
and the lesser acidity brought by use of rice wine vinegar. Also,
Pinot Noir, by itself, seems to be one of the wines that works well
with sushi. Due to the dominance of Pinot Noir in this Rosé
blend, and the presence of Pinot Meunier, all the allied factors
made for a successful experience.
toast to the master chef and winemaker Mori and Fred respectively.
Pairing Champagne Dom Perignon Vintage 1999
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