On one magical day of every year, it is considered socially acceptable – necessary, even – to drink Champagne in the morning. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. At this time of the day, the wine falls into its classic function as an aperitif; not just to whet the appetite for the day’s overeating, but indeed to whet the appetite for celebration and festivity itself.
Save a bottle for after noon, however, and you open the possibility to pair this most excellent of food wines with a variety of dishes. Above all, these wines crave salt, so they go very well with the sorts of finger food you’ll serve your hungry guests while you’re falling behind schedule on the turkey.
Prosecco is a fantastic value alternative to Champagne. With loads of fresh fruit and a refreshing feel in the mouth, it’s the perfect aperitif to go with an antipasti board of bread, olives, grapes, sun-dried tomatoes, peppers, deli meats, and Italian cheeses. The advantage of this appetiser is that it requires no more effort than arranging its components on a board or plate. If even that is too much effort for Christmas day, you’ll be pleased to hear that sparkling wines of all kinds are perfectly at home with salty snacks like crisps and nuts. So open a packet of kettle crisps, dump them in a bowl, place them on a table, and pour a bottle of bubbles. Congratulations, you have just bought yourself an extra hour panicking at the stove.
Much the same with Champagne, the wine never needs food to be completely satisfying. This doesn’t mean it isn’t fantastic with food. It is well known that in Champagne, the local wine is served throughout the meal, and there’s no reason you can’t emulate this. We like to drink Champagne with chicken or turkey, and the yeasty, bready notes in great champagne go exceptionally well with bread sauce. The same bready notes call out for cheesy breadsticks or even a cheese board with fresh baguettes. Wine writer Victoria Moore loves to mix some of her leftover roast bird with mayonnaise before piling it on top of toast and drinking the rest of the Champagne. Again, the wine is very happy with crisps, and even goes excellently with fish and chips – a fantastic idea for the post-Christmas ‘I can’t be bothered to cook’ period.
Whether you’re mixing Prosseco with orange juice or carefully choosing your vintage Champagnes for the season, don’t let the festive season pass you by without the magical sound of a popping mushroom cork.