Gallons of Lanson champagne will be served with the 28,000kg of strawberries expected to be consumed over the next two weeks at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club during Wimbledon 2016. But while champagne is the traditional partner to strawberries and cream, it’s not necessarily the best match.
Highly aromatic sweet strawberry varieties like Mara des Bois match and enhance the digestive biscuit flavours of dry champagne. But the uniformly-large strawberries sold at Wimbledon for £2.50 a portion and throughout the nations supermarkets, don’t.
Semi-sweet light strawberry flavours are overwhelmed by the apple flavours found in the driest style of champagne known as ‘brut’ so choose lighter tasting champagne like the Co-op’s Aubert et Fils (£20.99) – being neither overly sweet or dry the wine has universal appeal. Made of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with a dash of Pinot Meunier, this less well-known champagne tastes of coconut and strawberries – a good match to the fresh fruit itself.
There are many champagne-matching strawberry varieties grown in this country, but you’ll need to look beyond your local Sainsbury’s or Tesco to find them. Farmer’s markets or Pick Your Own fruit farms are where the short shelf-life old-fashioned tasting strawberries can be found. Varieties like Cambridge Favourite, Honeoye and the autumn bearer Aromel, match champagne best when eaten fresh, very ripe and without sugar. If you like your summer fruit topping a cheesecake or meringue, then a sweeter wine is required.
Tattinger’s Demi Sec champagne is not a naturally sweet wine: five teaspoons of sugar are added to each bottle to reach its ‘half-dry’ state. If you like your sparkle even sweeter then drink Mumm Demi Sec with your fruit desserts. It has eight teaspoons of sugar per bottle and you might find it overpowers your tastebuds, making it difficult to taste the slice of sweet pudding.
The French needn’t have it all their own way. Italy’s Martini Asti (£6.50 Morrisons), a sparkling Moscato grape wine, goes well with desserts and also with main dishes which have cream sauces. It is just 7.5% alcohol by volume, so it’s a good choice for those who want to enjoy wine throughout a meal without keeling over.
PG Wine Review
Co-op Les Pionniers Champagne NV
The high proportion of Pinot Noir in this blend makes for an apple and lemony tasting champagne.
Lanson Black Label Brut Champagne
£22 Tesco, £23 Asda, £23 Sainsbury’s
Dry fruity flavours balanced with a bit of honey.
Asda Extra Special Vintage 2007 Champagne
Good price, good wine.
Tattinger Brut Reserve Champagne
£27 Asda, £35 Tesco
It even comes in a pretty box. Creamy flavours.
Dom Perignon Vintage Champagne
If you want to do the James Bond bit then it must be Dom Perignon. Not sure he’d have sourced his from Sainsbury’s, but hey times change. Fresh almond and smoky flavours.
© Paula Goddard 2013 www.paulagoddard.com