What goes well with sparkling wine?
Sparkling wine accompanies nearly every celebration – and a successful food and wine pairing is sure to delight and entertain your guests even more.
But here’s the thing.
You can’t just pair sparkling wine with any old nibbles you have in the cupboard. The saltiness in salted crisps and other finger-foods will make the natural acidity in many sparkling wines overwhelmingly tart.
If the food pairing is too sweet, you could make Möet & Chandon taste cheap.
Here are the key characteristics of sparkling wines:
- High acidity is common in many sparkling wines
- Aroma profile including butter, toast and nuttiness from prolonged yeast contact and ageing in oak barrels
- Sparkling wines can range from very dry or ‘brut’ styles like Champagne and can be sweet or ‘doux’ styles like certain Möet & Chandon vintages
- Most common are sparkling white wines but producers also use red wine grapes to make sparkling rosé and sparkling red wines
- The complex texture of sparkling wines are usually described as full-bodied
The question of what goes well with sparkling wine depends on the wine grapes, the winemaking method and wine terroir.
Below we’ll deconstruct a professionally designed sparkling wine and food pairing.
UMAMU Estate 2019 MacAnn Sparkling is made from Semillon grapes with a splash of Sauvignon Blanc in the traditional method. It has crisp acidity with aromas of citrus, snow peas and royal gala apples. It spent 15 months on lees and has aromas of butter and brioche.
Sparkling wine and food pairing
There are three methods to pair wine with food:
- Pair body and texture
- Pair beneficial flavours
- Pair aromatic compounds
We’ve had Cordon Bleu trained create a perfect pairing for UMAMU Estate 2019 Sparkling MacAnn. Let’s run through each of the three methods.
Pair body and texture
Sparkling wines like our Sparkling MacAnn are medium-bodied with texture and complexity added from yeast contact and 15 months in French oak.
Medium-bodied food pairs are usually pan-fried, roasted or stewed. But oysters are already rich and dense enough to make a good match for a sparkling wine pairing.
Pair beneficial flavours
Oysters pack a powerful punch of umami flavours.
Sparkling wines tend to have the most umami flavours thanks to yeast contact, fermentation and ageing. A young wine with no ageing would taste bitter, acidic and flat with oysters – but UMAMU Estate 2019 Sparkling MacAnn is a worthy match.
It’s scientifically proven that sparkling wines and oysters are a good food and wine pairing due to ‘umami synergy’ leading to an overall richer taste.
The natural acidity in UMAMU Estate 2019 Sparkling MacAnn adds a refreshing twist, and acts as a palate cleanser. The acidity in the mignonette sauce does not overpower the sparkling wine’s acidity, which is crucial for this successful pairing.
Pair aromatic compounds
Free glutamate is the substance that tastes ‘umami’ on the tongue. It’s found in foods like cheese, ripe tomatoes, soy sauce, mushrooms, processed meats and especially seafoods like oysters.
Sparkling wines contain higher levels of free glutamate than other wines due to long yeast contact. This sets up the umami synergy in the food and wine pairing.
UMAMU Estate 2019 Sparkling MacAnn is made from Semillon grapes which have prominent citrus aroma compounds, like limonene. This terpene is the major component in citrus fruit peels and is commonly added to hand cleansers to give a lemon fragrance. The lemon juice in mignonette sauce therefore creates extra aromatic synergy with the wine pairing.
P.S. – You can read our complete guide to understanding food & wine pairing here.
- 24 fresh oysters
- 1-2 (1/3 cup) shallots
- 1/2 cup Light red wine vinegar
- dash of sea salt
- 1 lemon
- trout roe
- Finely dice the shallots and put into a ramekin or small bowl and pour red wine vinegar to cover the shallots. Add a dash of salt. Ideal to make this the day before ad chill in the fridge so the ingredients can soak and mellow.
- Serve the oysters on a bed of ice and serve with the mignonette sauce and some lemon wedges.
- Top with some trout roe.
P.S. You can buy UMAMU Estate 2019 Sparkling MacAnn here.