8 part video series on the history of Champagne filmed in France

Best champagnes for weddings

I’m just going to come right out of the gate here and say

champagne and frosted wedding cake is a horrible combo.

Yes, it’s true. Not sure when this poor pairing tradition started, but unless the wedding cake is not a sweet cake (such as a short cake, pound cake or similar plain cakes not commonly served at weddings), then it’s best to skip the whole custom.

wedding champagne
Key to remember: To achieve maximum pleasure, serve sweet wines with sweet foods. Thus, do not serve a Brut champagne with a typical wedding cake, as it will taste bitter and can be harsh, instead offer a chilled, sweet dessert wine such as an Orange Muscat. If you prefer bubbles, try a Moscato d’Asti or a sweet Prosecco from Italy.

demi-sec is the sweetest type of champagne, but it is actually not that sweet. After disgorging the sediment, from the 2nd fermentation in the bottle, there is a small space that is filled with the liquer d’expédition. This is composed of a similar wine and a little sugar (dosage). A dark chocolate flourless cake can go well with a demi-sec rosé (pink) champagne.

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Below is a guideline to the terms you will find on champagne labels and their levels of dosage (sweetness). Typically, non-vintage champagnes have more sugar added than vintage champagnes.

* Ultra Brut or Brut Sauvage (very dry) no dosage at all

* Brut (dry) 0-15 grams of dosage

* Extra Brut (dry) 12-20 grams of dosage

* Sec (slightly sweet) 17-35 grams of dosage

* Demi-sec (sweet) 33-50 grams of dosage

* Doux (very sweet) more than 50 grams of dosage (not commonly found)

Here are some general suggestions on the best champagnes for weddings:
For the reception hour: offer a Blanc de Blancs champagne. This means “white from white”, which literally reflects ‘white wine from white grapes’, and are typically made of 100% Chardonnay grapes. Blanc de Blancs are the most light and most elegant of champagnes. (They also age better and longer to bring out the full, rich complexity of the wine.) They make an outstanding apéritif drink before the meal in order to open up the palate. You can have them alone during a reception or with small bites of food, such as slices of Parmigiano Reggiano, quails’ eggs, smoky tasting foods like smoked salmon and smoked trout pâté, caviar, foie gras, sushi, bacon, oysters, cheese straws, cheddar, brie, fresh goat cheese, gruyère, mushroom or mozzarella tartlets, shrimp, and mini quiches just to name a few wonderful appetizers that go well with champagne.
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Brut Rosé champagnes (pink) go well with figs, dates, walnuts, almonds, chestnuts (try bacon wrapped dates!)

For starter course: offer a Brut style champagne with melon wrapped in prosciutto, salad with cheese (no vinegar dressing), seafood bisque, or creamy asparagus soup with cheesy croutons.

For main course: offer a Brut style champagne with broiled lobster, fresh crab, pan fried scallops, duckling, seabass, monkfish or salmon, poultry, veal, pork tenderloin, tiger shrimp, veal roast, truffles, mushroom ravioli, pasta with white cream sauce, or wild mushroom risotto.

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Or a Brut Rosé champagne with lobster, lamb, salmon, or juicy pink roast beef. (Please note: Champagne doesn’t go well with steak, which is commonly served at American weddings.

For wedding toasts (not paired with cake): offer a Blanc de Blancs without food. They are light in body, delicious and ultimately sparkly and festive!

For wedding cake: Skip champagne and head for sweet dessert wines such as an Orange Muscat and or a Moscato d’Asti or a sweet Prosecco from Italy.

*Champagne Journal's episode 8 showcases some French discussing what they like to pair with their champagnes.

Champagnes are some of the very best food wines indeed! They go with the whole meal as well as with non-sweet desserts. The balance of their acidity plus their effervescence cleanse the palate and get it ready to best savor the next bite of food. They truly make a meal more enjoyable.

Undeniably champagnes are very appropriate for weddings! They pair terrifically with many foods and are the ultimate, festive celebration drink! Nothing puts a smile on a face and heart like champagne. Champagne is perfect for toasts too... just not together with sweet frosted wedding cake.

Let's toast to love!

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Heather and Bruce Ingram

Kristin Noelle Smith was imprinted with the vine as a child living in Modesto, CA (home of one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of California wines). She received both her B.A. and M.B.A. from Northwestern University and has lived in Chicago for the past 25 years. She seeks to offer historical and business perspectives in her wine commentary, with a vibrant enthusiasm for wine’s many unique and exciting facets. You may read more about champagne on her blog. Contact.