Champagne’s Most Unexpected Pairing Is…Rice?

Champagne with crispy brown rice with blue crab, smoked tomato vinaigrette, and fennel purée

Playing with rice’s texture by stir-frying it for a few minutes creates a dish that has crispiness and layers of texture, says Cassidee Dabney executive chef at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee. Combining crispy rice, creamy fennel purée, and meaty crab creates a dish that “contrasts and complements the playful effervescence” of Champagne.

Bottle of Champagne and two filled glasses beside a plate of black cod and saikyo miso rice
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Champagne with black cod and saikyo miso rice

“With Japanese food, there are often a lot of ingredients that can cause conflict with wine—sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, etc. Champagne can work with many of these ingredients and, in my opinion, often enhances the subtle aromatics of our food in a way that still wines can’t, says Brandon Hayato, owner and chef at Hayato in California. The rice dish has some oil from the fish that envelops each grain of rice, which is balanced by the acidity of Champagne. There’s a smoky element in the rice that we get from grilling the fish over charcoal; there’s miso and ginger in the dish as well, and all of these things can be enhanced by Champagne, but not overwhelmed by it.”

Chef preparing a dish of seafood over Mediterranean rice
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Rosé Champagne with seafood over Mediterranean rice

Eduardo Valle Lobo culinary director at Frasca Food and Wine in Colorado suggests a complex rosé Champagne with salinity and structure to complement his Mediterranean take on a classic paella, complete with lobster meat, uni, razor clams, blue crab and langoustine. Finished with an aromatic shellfish stock. Cooked slowly, the rice takes on the intense seafood flavors which makes a beautiful counterpart to some (rosé) bubbles.

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