Sparkling wine is the star of summer picnics and garden gatherings, but what’s best to eat with favourites like Champagne, Prosecco, Cava and English sparkling? We asked people behind the stands at Decanter's Sparkling Exploration tasting in London for their ideal pairings...

Summer sparkling wine pairings

Sparkling wines have a reputation as aperitifs, but many of them are great at any point in a summer meal. 

Decanter asked those showing wines at the Sparkling Exploration tasting held at Church House in Westminster what their ideal summer wine pairings would be. See their answers below:

Prosecco

For many, Prosecco is the unassailable summer staple of al fresco drinking and dining. The founder of Sommelier’s Choice, Tim McLaughlin-Green, was representing Nino Franco from Prosecco Superiore. He shared his celebrity chef Prosecco pairing experience…

‘Three years ago, we went to Rick Stein’s restaurant and cooked with his son Jack. We paired the Primo Franco 2013 with his lobster curry — it was amazing. People usually associate Austrian wines with curries and Asian spices, but this was a great pairing for richer Prosecco styles.’

Cava

Pamela Anzano, representing Cava producer Gramona, unsurprisingly offered a traditional Spanish perspective on Cava wine pairing.

‘In Spain we often pair Cava with meat, because it can handle it. You can take something like cooked lamb and the Cava can handle it. Cheeses too, like aged Manchego. I’d choose Gramona’s III Lustros Brut Nature Cava 2009 and I’d pair with rich meats, such as Spanish jamón ibérico.’

sparkling wine pairings

Sparkling masterclass – new trends from around the world. Image Credit: Catherine Lowe – cathlowe.com

English sparkling

English sparkling is a grower on the summer picnic scene, with its producers gaining increasing recognition. Sommelier Laura Rhys MS, representing award-winning Gusbourne Estate from Kent, said:

‘A really lovely dessert I had with Gusbourne Brut Rosé 2013 the other day was strawberry macaroons, fresh cream and strawberries. Or a strawberry and mint sorbet is a delicious pairing, too.’



Champagne

Thomas Laculle-Moutard’s heritage combines two Champagne houses — his father Patrick Laculle took over Laculle Champagne family business in 1980, and then married Anges Moutard of Famille Moutard Champagne. At the event he represented both sides of the family, but he chose Laculle for his French minimalist pairing…

‘Personally, I would take a glass of Laculle’s Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne NV. For Chardonnay Champagne, smoked salmon on toast is best, with crème fraîche. Or perhaps on a hot summer’s day enjoyed with fresh strawberries and raspberries.’

sparkling wine pairings

Salmon canapés served at the Decanter Sparkling Exploration. Image Credit: Catherine Lowe – cathlowe.com

Crémant

Crémant’s popularity has been on the rise as a value Champagne alternative. It’s a sparkling wine made in the same ‘traditional method’ — where the second fermentation takes place in the bottle. Notable Crémants are produced in French regions such as Loire, Burgundy, Limoux and Alsace. Bestheim has been producing Crémant in Alsace since 1765, and we asked their export manager Emmanuel Vergely for his ideal pairing:

‘I would choose Bestheim’s Grand Prestige Brut Cremant d’Alsace 2010, paired with grilled salmon and rice pilaf. You want a simple, pure dish like this to allow for full expression of the wine.’


French Crémant – Beyond Champagne


Franciacorta

This lesser-known Italian sparkling style is not to be overlooked, and if your palate is tiring of Prosecco this is a refreshing alternative. The Sparkling Exploration welcomed five Franciacorta producers, including organic wines from Barone Pizzini. Managing partner Silvano Brescianini said:

‘With Barone Pizzini Animante Brut NV, I would have to have a classic dish — spaghetti vongole. The creamy white wine sauce and fresh fish with the taste of sea work perfectly with the rounded flavours, driven by the Chardonnay.’


Franciacorta sparkling wines to drink


Written by Laura Seal for Decanter.com

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