On our third date Nick climbed the stairs of my London flat to pick me up for dinner. I leaned over the balcony to greet him and saw that he was carrying two enormous bright yellow bags. Being very American, I called out to him, Hey there! Whats in the big yellow bags? Being very British, he turned red and stammered, oh, um, something it didnt really work out as Id planned Once in my flat, he explained. He knew I did not have Champagne glasses so he thought theyd be a welcome gift. He just did not realize when purchasing 6 glasses that each would be individually contained in a large cardboard cylinder so big that only 3 would fit in each of the largest shopping bags Selfridges had to offer. He could not know it at the time, but his gift to me would become one of my most valued possessions: A set of 6 Riedel Sommelier series Champagne glasses.
These glasses would play a role over and over in our lives. See, we dont just drink Champagne we believe in Champagne. We start meals out with Kir Royals (try one at Bistro Daisy - The best!), we start meals in with Champagne, we open bottles for celebrations, we open bottles for Monday night dinner, and we open bottles to remind ourselves of that special Thursday date. And we opened two bottles when Gustav stopped by, one before and one after.
To begin my conversion of folks to worship at the Church of Champagne, here are two recommendations. Good for sunshine and hurricanes.
Great American sparkling wine from New Mexico. Runs about $14 a bottle (I ordered it special from Wine Seller but Im sure other wine shops will stock it). It has tight little bubbles that feel slightly like carbonation instead of the mellow French bubbles, but the it is a great sparkling for the price. Serve it super chilled with Salmon. Easy drinking and yummy.
To splurge (reasonably): Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose Champagne NV .
This is a great higher-end Champagne that will not break the bank. It is a dry, classic Champagne with yeasty notes partnered with fruity, berry flavours. I have not purchased it in New Orleans, but anyone can order it for you if they do not have it. It is not a difficult wine for retailers to get their hands on.
Champagne pairs with anything or nothing, but it pairs especially well with oily fish like Salmon (even smoked, which can be difficult to pair with wine). The classic combo is Champagne with Caviar (even the cheap stuff is great when you take time to prepare the proper accoutrements). Also try it with Fromage de Meaux, Parmigiano Reggiano or an artisinal Camembert - Im sure the people at St. James Cheese can help you.
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