The first week of October is National Champagne Week, but then most weeks of the year are ‘national some booze or other week’ – in June, we’d only just recovered from World Gin Day when it was National Martini Day seven days’ later. However, put cynicism aside, because this is basically an excuse for a series of events with the potential of expanding the fizz-drinker’s horizons.
After an opening party at Searcys St Pancras, the highlight is a Laurent Perrier champagne pairing dinner at Searcys , The Gherkin, on Monday 3 October. After a reception with canapés and bubbles, dinner will offer some surprising pairings. Although you’d expect crab, fennel, apple and tarragon mayonnaise or artichoke and truffle salad to pair with a brut champagne, it’s more of a stretch to see a rosé with rack of lamb or goat’s cheese pithiviers or Laurent Perrier’s Ultra Brut with cheesecake or a cheese selection. But Joel Claustre, Searcys’ champagne ambassador, says that a good, complex champagne will pair comfortably with red meat or cheese.
‘Most champagne pairs well with goat’s cheese because they both have relatively high acidity,’ says Claustre. ‘For a rich, creamy cheese – for example Langres, from the Champagne region – you want something with black grapes (pinot noir or pinot meunier) prominent in the blend. And there’s a nuttiness to the chardonnay grape in a blanc de blancs that goes well with sweet, hard alpine cheeses such as Comté.’ He does, however, warn that salty or bitter blue cheeses, such as feta, Rocquefort or Stilton, work less well. Incidentally, there is a specific cheese-pairing event with Heidsieck Monopole at Searcys Westfield Stratford on Friday 7th.
Other events include an exploration of how champagnes differ between bottles and magnums; tastings of lesser known houses such as H Blin; and a champagne cocktail masterclass with Sipsmith at Tonic & Remedy on the City Road (featuring a rose gin distilled for the occasion, which makes an interesting twist on the classic French 75 cocktail). And for those heading out of town on the weekend of 1–2 October, there is a pop-up Lanson bar at the Roman Baths Kitchen in Bath, and a Perrier-Jouët tasting at the Blenheim PalaceOrangery in Woodstock.
For information on all events, go to nationalchampagneweek.co.uk. Tickets to the Laurent Perrier dinner at Searcys, The Gherkin, cost £115 each, and exclusive tables of 10 can be booked. Call 0207 452 5016 or email firstname.lastname@example.org