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A drink with… Charlotte Page

Head of wine at Joël Robuchon International, Charlotte Page has lovingly crafted the wine list at the newly relaunched L’Atelier Robuchon in London’s Mayfair. The old restaurant closed in 2019 following the death of Joël, and this new version is hoping to follow in the footsteps of its Michelin star international counterparts. Passionate about Champagne in particular, Page explains why it makes such a perfect food match.

‘Too many wine lovers think of Champagne as just an aperitif, or as a drink for celebrations. It is actually a great food match because of its versatility – it’s like having a large palette of colours to paint with.

‘I love the fact that sommeliers have an opportunity to broaden horizons, and to debunk misconceptions. When I suggest Champagne as a food match, many diners believe it will make them more tipsy.

‘Most want a label, such as Krug, but they don’t realise the excitement is with the small growers – and at a fifth of the cost of prestige labels. Ordering from a large Champagne list can be intimidating, but trust your sommelier and you shouldn’t be disappointed.

‘For a good pairing, you have three options. You can either look for an equal match in length and intensity. Or put the spotlight on the Champagne and so keep the food more delicate. Or try the opposite: pair a simple, aperitif-style brut non-vintage with a more complex dish and see how the Champagne sings.

‘With spicy food, you need Pinot Noir – and the more aromatic the Champagne, the better it will go with spicy food. Chinese food with blanc de noirs is a classic combination.

‘It doesn’t have to be complicated to be a great match, though. Try Laurent-Perrier’s La Cuvée Brut NV (£39-£50 Widely available) with a chunk of good-quality Parmesan – heavenly.

‘With vintage wines, very special years (2014 or 2002, say) need a simple food match to show them off at their best. In older vintages, the bubbles become less aggressive, and you start to see tertiary aromas and flavours. Fish might be too delicate for an older Champagne. Cheese soufflé with girolles would be perfect.

‘Desserts generally don’t work well with Champagne. Sugar and dry Champagne are not an ideal combination, because sugar makes the Champagne harsher. Chocolate and Champagne is definitely a forbidden match! If you’re set on Champagne with dessert, choose a dish low in sugar, with red berry flavours and pair it with a blanc de noirs. A vanilla flan with a glass of something higher-dosage [sec or demi-sec] would also work.

‘My desert island pairing would be Cédric Bouchard’s Roses de Jeanne Blanc de Noirs NV served with côte de veau, mashed potato and a veal jus. Heavenly.’

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