When it comes to food and wine, we’re sorry to report, we’ve all been fed a bunch of lies. That whole “you don’t drink red wine with seafood” thing? That’s not always true. And there are tons of beers (and not even the fancy ones) that pair just perfectly with oysters. Likewise, there are tons of foods to pair with champagne that you probably never even considered. There’s a good reason we talk ourselves into thinking that bubbly is better reserved for a special occasion: Champagne can get super expensive really quickly.
But there are ways to enjoy a little delicious bubbly without breaking the bank for a cheat night (and if you pair it with some greasy Chinese take out, you can totally justify the splurge). Much like you can pair your favorite, beat-up Converse high-tops with a couture skirt for date night, pairing champagne (or other, more budget-friendly bubbles like franciacorta or prosecco) — with some “low-brow” foods is the way to go.
When it comes to food and champagne pairing, you don’t have to be a French sommelier to figure it out, but there are some basics. You don’t want to have too many super heavy flavors that take over your sparkling treat, but you can take advantage of the bubbles as a palette cleanser for fatty, creamy, foods, too. It’s a lot of trial and error, but here are some good places to start.
Mac and Cheese
Whether it’s boxed stovetop or made from scratch in the oven, champagne is actually a great beverage for the cheesy pasta. The acidity of a brut — especially a rosé — will cut through all the fat of the cheese and butter, so you won’t feel as heavy as you devour your second helping. Also, if cooking up some mac and serving it with champagne isn’t the easiest way to class up a romantic night in with your partner (or yourself), we don’t know what is.
Or fried anything, really. A super dry champagne with lots of bubbles (ask the salesperson to recommend one with lots of “perlage”) to cut through all the grease of the batter is the way to go here. And don’t stop at classic fried chicken — fried mozzarella sticks, zucchini, hush puppies or even, some chicken nuggets from the drive through will do the trick.
Next time you order some noodles from the Thai joint on Seamless, break out the bubbles. The low-key spice that many Thai dishes have is a perfect companion for a glass of prosecco, which is normally a little sweeter than most champagnes. If you tell your dinner companion that it works really well with the acidity of the dish, you’ll sound like you know what you’re talking about.
Champagne and tacos were made for each other. If there’s salsa or a lot of lime on them, go for a sweeter beverage. But if you’ve never had a glass of champagne with your fish tacos, you’re missing out. And don’t be shy with the guacamole and chips on the side either.
Usually, people pair beer with Indian food, and that’s also a fine way to go. But many Indian curries also pair deliciously with a sweeter, bubbly rosé. Or, start with a glass of bubbles for the fried veggie apps and then move onto something a little heavier for your flavorful lamb rogan josh.
Olivia Pope goes with a bucket of red wine for her popcorn dinner, but champagne is another way to go if you just want a snack. Same concept as the mac and cheese — the bubbles cut through the buttery flavor and make it easier to wash down all that salty goodness.
This is the ultimate high-low pairing. Chinese take-out, from your egg roll to the sweet and sour chicken, is champagne’s best friend.
There are lots of ways to get your bubble fix without having to put on your party dress. A good glass of champagne tastes just as good — or even better — when you’re in your pajamas and have a whole bowl of popcorn all to yourself. Even better, it makes it feel like a party.