Have you ever walked down the champagne aisle dazzled by the beautiful display of champagne bottles? For me, admiring their shapes and designs is like window shopping at my favorite jewelry store. Just like beautiful jewelry, it’s a little overwhelming in the display case, but still, there’s a strong desire to take one (or some) home and share the delight with others.
But then there’s always the question, what should I serve with Champagne. It’s such a unique wine, with its lively golden bubbles and associations with luxury, that surely it must be reserved for special occasions – at least, that was what I thought years ago.
Today though, knowing that each day is as special as you make it, I’ll serve Champagne often as it elevates any occasion. And what I’ve discovered is that it’s pretty easy to pair with snacks, appetizers, and desserts. Champagne might seem complicated, but really, it’s that easy-going friend that smiles welcomingly at everyone.
Small bite pairings, or nibbles, are excellent with Champagne because of the various flavors you can serve at the same time. Appetizers with bread or rich buttery components are especially good choices. Of course, umami-rich foods are ideal pairings for those wishing for gluten-free alternatives. For dessert, you can showcase champagne’s distinctive flavors by serving both chocolate and more delicate cookies.
What to Serve With Champagne Nibbles
Canapés are always my first choice for champagne pairing because they are easy and all about flavor. These individual pieces of vegetables, toasted bread, or mini-pastries with a savory topping are just small bites, yet they instantly wake up the palate.
They are perfect for serving with Champagne because they are both salty and crunchy. Salty foods provide a great counter-balance to sugars and acids. And the crunchy nature of a canapé highlights the fizzy “texture” of the drink.
Canapés have the added benefit of allowing you to present the first course effortlessly. Making them ahead of time and assembling them just before serving is the secret to easy entertaining. Some of my favorite canapé choices for Champagne pairing are rich buttery stuffed mushrooms topped with crumbled breadcrumbs or toasted baguette slices with a broiled soft cheese topping.
Another inspired pairing with Champagne is quiche, rich with eggs and cheese. And with a mini quiche, there’s a much greater crust to filling ratio, lending an even more buttery, crunchy texture to this classic hors d’oeuvre.
The flavors of quiche are subtly rich, and each sip of Champagne allows both flavors to develop slowly and delightfully. The two together are a refreshing combination, starting every party in the right direction.
3.Anything Wrapped in Puff Pastry
And if taking your party to the next level is what you want, choose an appetizer with puff pastry. In my opinion, puff pastry, with its 1000 layers (a direct transitional from French ‘millefeuille’) of baked flour and butter, was invented for Champagne. My favorite puff pastry appetizer is mushroom ‘vol au vent.’
It is sautéed mushrooms in puff pastry shells with a cream sauce. This dish has all the components for perfect Champagne pairing: rich mushroom umami, sweet butter and cream, and a warm buttery, crunchy shell. Mmm, that’s reason enough to share a bottle of Champagne.
If you’re looking to make a bold statement with your nibbles, another sensational pairing for champagne is blinis. These savory mini pancakes are a perfect base for sour cream topped with smoked salmon or smoked trout.
Just place a dollop of sour cream on each blini and top with your favorite smoked fish.
Additionally, if your budget allows, try topping your nibbles with caviar. What I love about caviar and sparkling wines together is that they are two elements with the same elusive qualities. With both Champagne and caviar, I’m always trying to capture the bold tastes, let them linger, but all too fast, poof, they mellow.
For a moment, I have the full flavor in my possession, then just as quickly, only a faint reminder remains– much like the way a perfume wafts long after the person has gone. So though Champagne is a perfect complement for the strong marine umami of caviar, wait just a bit before you sip, try to capture the effervescence of both.
Blinis are indeed effortless to make, though pâté is just as easy – and even simpler to buy. Pâte is a mixture of seasoned ground seafood, poultry, or meat and often combines several different ingredients like cream or vegetables.
Either molded in a rectangular terrine or surrounded with cust (en-croute), sliced thinly, pâte is a perfect small bite for Champagne.
But in the end, what can be more effortless than a nibble that doesn’t need a plate, or utensil, or even require cooking? Straight from the sea to a bed of ice, let your guests enjoy Neptune’s most delicious treat. An oyster’s ease of use and its briny flavor aren’t the only qualities that recommend it.
According to Web.md, Oysters are low-calorie and high in micronutrients, making them a healthy food for many people. Many of the specific health benefits of oysters are tied to their abundant array of micronutrients.
What Cheeses Pair Well With Champagne?
Most appetizers are finger foods, and the quintessential first-choice pairing for wine is cheese. Served on a tray with a variety of crackers, you have either an appetizer or even an afternoon snack.
The best part of a cheese tray is that cheese is best at room temperature. So prepare it ahead of time and let it sit out in a cool place while preparing for your guests.
8.Buttery German and Swiss Cheeses
Thankfully, most deli cheese sections include many different styles of cheese. But for champagne, you don’t need to go beyond the traditional Swiss and German Cheeses. The soft, buttery, and earthy qualities of these familiar cheese enhance the flavor of the dry, bubbly white wines.
9.Pecorino and Romano
But for a harder cheese, look no further than a wedge of Pecorino or Romano. These aged cheeses are more than just a pasta topping. Known for their salt crystals that seem to explode with flavor, they take on a whole other aspect when served with Champagne.
Due to champagne’s minerality, the sparkling wine can highlight the deeper flavors in the cheese that can be described as nutty, salty, and even smokey.
What Snacks to Serve With Champagne?
Champagne appetizers don’t have to be exotic or expensive. In fact, they can be simple finger foods that you might typically serve at a get-together.
Try these quick and easy-to-make appetizers for choices that won’t break the bank. And because they all have the same crunchy, salty, umami-rich quality as the canapés, they will showcase your champagne just as well.
Many supermarkets now sell small-batch, hand-roasted nuts. The salty, earthy taste and hearty crunch are perfect for bright, bubbly Champagne. Another bonus, just a handful of nuts will keep the hunger at bay until dinnertime.
Another salty and satisfying combination for Champagne is olives. These brined nibbles brighten up any occasion with their glossy green, red, and black hues.
Even though olives are tastier if they have pits, many guests are a little uncomfortable with pitted olive etiquette. So, unless you want a lot of left-over olives, you may want to consider pitted olives.
Though guests might not like olive pits, they never seem to mind a corn kernel or two. Yes, popcorn is an amazing choice for champagne.
Like the same sensational pairing of quiche and sparkling wine, popcorn and the bubbly have the same winning combination. And what’s more, you can try many different types of popcorn flavors, like butter, cheddar, and even ranch.
Fruits To Serve With Champagne
Surprisingly, decadent buttery treats aren’t the only pairings for Champagne. Because it is a blend of grapes, not a single varietal like most wines, Champagne is much easier than wine to pair with highly acidic foods like fruit. And for me, the very best fruit pairings are summer fruits, especially berries, stone fruit, and figs.
Strawberries are delicious with Champagne and, dare I even say, in Champagne? Whether the berries are dipped in chocolate or served with a dollop of cream, Champagne is the perfect partner. But make sure you’re serving a bottle of sweet Champagne such as sec or demi-sec. Sweeter Champagnes will not compete but enhance the delicate flavor of the strawberries.
Strawberries are not the only fruit companion for sparkling wine. Berries of all types, blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry, are just as delicious as strawberries. The key to a good pairing is finding ripe and flavorful berries.
They don’t have to be expensive, and usually, the tastiest ones are the peak of the season selections. You can even experiment at your local farmer’s market, where they typically have a sample. This way, you can ensure the quality before you buy them.
Peaches and plums, especially on a hot day, can keep the bubbly flowing all summer long. The delicate perfumes of fresh peaches and plums with their sweet flavor seem to enhance each sip of Champagne. And just like the advice for the berries, sweeter sparkling wines pair better with stone fruit.
After the berries seem to have disappeared from the grocery shelves during late summer and early autumn, look for figs to pair with Champagne. When figs are in season, they are satisfying and luxuriant but not filing. A ripe fig is ready to serve; just slice it in half and arrange it on a plate.
For added flavor, top the halved fig with goat cheese and drizzle it with honey. Or, if you have a little more time, sprinkle a little balsamic vinegar on top and warm it in the oven for a few minutes – not hot, just warm.
The heat will bring out the natural sugar and create a subtly sweet and sour experience that won’t compete with Champagne’s crisp, clean flavor.
Vegan Food to Serve With Champagne
Though fruit makes an excellent vegan choice to pair with Champagne, there are many other exceptional choices. One of the qualities that make sparkling wines so versatile is their strong minerality and creamy flavors.
This means that while Champagne pairs nicely with dairy and umami-rich meats, it also is a perfect accompaniment for Vegan foods that have the same quality.
1.Vegan “Buttery” Choices
To get that same palate sensation of butter and Champagne, try a Vegan mac and cheese. The pasta base and luxurious creamy texture will enhance the crisp bubbles of the Champagne. And the Vegan cheese will highlight the crisp yet velvety taste of the sparkling wine.
2.Vegan Umani Rich Choices
Mushrooms and seaweed are perfect Vegan ingredients for pairing with Champagne. The flavors, though robust, won’t compete but complement and enhance the taste of the Champagne. This is because, beneath the light bubbles, Champagne has a strong minerality structure.
Therefore, umami-rich foods, like mushrooms and seaweed, are ideal pairings. Whether or not you have Vegan guests, consider serving mushroom dishes, a snack mix with seaweed flavor, or sticky rice wrapped in a seaweed crust next time you’re opening a bottle of sparkling wine.
What Desserts Pair Well With Champagne?
Champagne and nibbles don’t have to stop just because it’s dessert time. Desserts and Champagne are the classic meal finalé. And when serving small plates for dessert, it keeps the atmosphere festive as you treat your guests to various options.
But for dessert nibbles, I would recommend you consider sweeter Champagne because sweet wines, in general, are known to render foods drier on the palate, which is why desserts benefit from a wine sweeter than the dish itself.
Truffles, the chocolate ones, and Champagne are classic dessert combinations. That’s because Champagne rises to the challenge of the strong earthy cocoa flavors and enhances both the dessert and the drink.
I love serving chocolate truffles because all you need is a serving plate, and the dessert takes care of itself. And, for even easier pairing, fill a small bowl with chocolate-covered almonds. The creamy richness of the almonds blends nicely with the chocolate and the Champagne.
Just like the appetizers, anything with puff pastry for dessert is a Champagne pairing made in heaven. Most bakeries have an assortment of freshly baked pastries, many filled with sweetened cream or fruit. And if you’re lucky, they might even have an assortment of mini-pastries.
For an even quicker option, you can look in your grocer’s freezer section for stuffed cream puffs. Served plain or drizzled with chocolate sauce is sure to be a hit.
3.Cookies and Macarons
Yes, I am recommending a box of your favorite cookies. If you’re running short on time, you can always bring out some cookies, and though it might seem like a shortcut, truly, cookies are a delicious, if not even an inspired, pairing. Choose a cookie that has a crunchy texture that emphasizes a light butter flavor and delicate texture.
Personally, I like shortbread cookies or crispy sugar cookies best because the crunch matches the bubbles, and the flavor enhances the sparkling wine.
But if you desire a truly remarkable cookie pairing, one you’re guests will be talking about for weeks afterward, serve macarons. Macarons are both delicate and substantial. Each bite of a macaron is a study in opposites.
The airy meringue crusts give way to a dense, buttery filling. It’s rare to find something so light and rich at the same time…perhaps, other than a glass of champagne!
Many of these dessert nibbles are sweeter versions of appetizers, and cheesecake is no different. After all, isn’t cheesecake just a dessert version of quiche? Well, almost, but with a twist.
Just like dry Champagne and quiche complement the buttery, creamy structure of each, sweet Champagne does the same with your favorite cheesecake. If you include berries on top and a dollop of whip cream, you have all the perfect ingredients for a happy ending.
Champagne’s Nutritional Info
As if you didn’t already need enough encouragement to open a bottle of sparkling wine, it also has the advantage of being much more friendly to your diet than other drinks.
While a glass of red or white wine contains between 135 and 200 calories, a brut (dry) Champagne is only 95 calories a glass. Could this actually be a guiltless luxury?
Effortless luxury and opulence are accessible with Champagne when served with the right pairings. And pairings don’t have to break the bank to enhance the quality of the Champagne. Especially good choices to highlight a dry sparkling wine are rich buttery canapes, mini quiches, or even salty popcorn.
For an evening when you want to splurge, try umami-rich seafood like caviar or oysters, which also have the benefit of being gluten-free. For small plate dessert pairings, you can’t go wrong with decadent chocolate truffles and cream-filled pastries.
With all these choices in mind, be sure to pick up a few different bottles in the sparkling wine aisle. But don’t wait for a special occasion to serve your Champagne and nibbles. We can all take some hostessing inspiration from Coco Chanel, who famously said, “I only drink Champagne on two occasions, when I’m in love and when I’m not.”
Kelly is a native of California. After graduation from UCLA, she began her travels living and cooking in Europe, Asia, and the Northwest. In Tokyo, she earned the Grand Diplôme, for both Cuisine and Pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu.
Kelly is a freelance food writer. She started the website, Tokyo-Table.com, where she reviews Tokyo restaurants from the perspective of a professional chef. Kelly has written for publications in Asia and North America on all aspects of cooking. Kelly now lives in Los Angeles with her family and her vegetable garden.