If you’ve never tried a food pairing – where drinks (beer, wine, fizz, softs) are paired with a meal, or a series of courses, I can’t recommend it enough.
Not just because I’ve been known to pair the odd G&T with food for an event, but because it’s such a fun thing to do. And it makes you think about food and drink in a whole different way. It can be an incredibly hard thing to do, which kind of makes it even more interesting. Something might work for me, but not for you, and vice versa. Or we might find something that’s just right. You search for a drink that contrasts, compliments or enhances the flavour of a dish.
One of my favourites – even though I’m not a massive fizz fan – is Champagne and fish and chips. It’s a contrast of two worlds – refined and elegant and, well, cheap as chips. From a flavour perspective too, it’s perfect.
Pol Roger is one of the smallest Champagne houses in France. Established in 1849 it began life by producing Champagne for other houses, such as Perrier Jouët or Moët & Chandon. Six years later, production moved in house, where they decided to concentrate on Brut Champagne – the British fizz of choice.
This relationship with Britain continues to today, and was reinforced by Winston Churchill. Churchill rather famously drank two bottles of Champagne a day – and in 1944 his favourite became that of Pol Roger. He drank specifically from the 1928 Vintage, and when that ran out, he moved onto the 1934 Vintage until his death in 1965
Our lunch pairing was nothing so fancy (or expensive). A glass of the Pol Roger Non-Vintage matched to fish and chips, mushy peas and all the extras you expect from Hip Hop – flavoured salts, proper vinegar, ketchup and tartare sauce.
With the soft acidity of the Champagne cutting through the fattiness, it was just perfect. The four of us indulged until we reached belt loosening levels, and sleepiness seeped into our limbs.
But we weren’t finished yet.
Instead, we made our way to where Will was standing, with more Champagne for us to sample. Alongside the light crisp notes of the Non-Vintage, the Vintage ’06 with notes of apple, and toasted nuts, we tried the Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill 2004. In 1975, Pol Roger decided to honour the long relationship they had had with the man himself, by creating this blend. In contrast to the Non-Vintage, the Winston Churchill, is richer, with hints of peach, ripe pairs and with a long buttery finish.
To finish our flight, we had something a little sweeter – the Demi Sec. An alternative for pairing with desserts, instead of a heavily sweet dessert wine. We began obsessing somewhat about pairing this with a lemon meringue pie.
Now I need to perfect my Champagne opening skills so I can open a bottle silently like Will can, and start saving my gin money and turn it into Champagne money.
A fizz and chips habit could get expensive.
All food and drink consumed was paid for by ourselves.