Deutz at Dinner

It’s a humid summer evening. You’re seated at a restaurant poring over the wine list, trying to find something that matches your mood, the food, and the weather. Something light for the humidity, chilled against the heat.

There are, of course, plenty of options. Pinot noir for beef or lamb. A verdicchio for fish. Alsatian riesling, New Zealand sauvignon blanc, Chablis and so forth. There’s a good chance, though, you weren’t looking at the sparkling end of the wine list.

I don’t think I’m alone if I say sparkling wine doesn’t leap instantly to mind when considering what to drink with a meal. In the Anglo world, bubbles are usually considered an apéritif, a celebratory starter served alone or with minute morsels of dainty delicacies Yet throughout the Continent, Champagne and its sparkling cousins are frequently the go-to wine for many main courses.

I was first exposed to this at a lunch at the Champagne house, Bollinger. Following the Sciences Po International Tasting competition (semi-ironically known as SPIT), the contestants were treated to a four-course lunch. Each course was paired with a different champagne. It was incredible to note the different characteristics of different vintage champagnes, and how well they complemented the food.

Recently, I encountered Deutz at dinner. The Brut Classic had a nose of honey, elderflower, apple and pearblossom; a nutty ‘biscuitiness’ came through after a while. Vanilla was present on the palate, though the wine was not overly oaky.  The complexity of the palate increased in the mouth – apples, elderflower, butter, toast, biscuit, vanilla all competing for attention – before tapering as you swallow, and finally thinning out into a long elderflower-heavy finish. The crisp acidity helps to cut through food, refreshing the palate.

The Brut Classic went exceedingly well with a celeriac tart starter, and fairly well with a main of pork belly and apple sauce. The Deutz Brut Rosé accompanied brilliantly a strawberry soufflé. The palate of strawberries and raspberries followed on brilliantly from a nose of vanilla and redcurrant and is one of the best wine and dessert pairings I’ve encoutered!

Don’t be afraid to take a leaf from the Continent and explore the possibilities of adding some sparkle to your meal. Some traditional champagne-food pairings are noted here, but use your imagination, and the full extent of the wine list!

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About James

James Flewellen is a biophysicist at the University of Oxford. He has competed for the University in international blind tasting competitions and won several awards. In addition, James is a wine educator and wine writer, most recently co-authoring "The Concise Guide to Wine and Blind Tasting". He also writes for the international gastronome site "The Rambling Epicure", and can be contacted for wine consultancy and educational courses through the "Oxford Wine Academy".
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4 Responses to Deutz at Dinner

  1. Neel Burton says:

    We had some Deutz at home yesterday with cantaloupe melon and parma ham. After lunch we walked around the University Parks with the half-bottle in hand, eventually gravitating towards a mulberry tree in fruit. Deutz is very versatile and approachable, but also complex and long. This rare combination makes it a very good all-rounder. I would love to try their top cuvée, the ‘Amour de Deutz’.

  2. beyondanomie says:

    I recall reading somewhere that effervescence in wine often goes hand in hand with versatility in terms of pairing with food. Would you agree this is true, and if so, what is it about those magic little bubbles that helps it work with a range of foods?

    • James says:

      Indeed. I would say there are a number of factors which contribute to sparkling wine’s versatility with food pairing. In the case of Champagne, the primary and secondary flavours of the wine are generally fairly amenable to many foods. Chardonnay is known as the ‘versatile’ grape in that it takes on more the characteristics of the winemaking process, and less so a distinct primary grape flavour. Pinot Noir similarly, but to a much lesser extent. I think this versatility comes through in suiting many foods.

      Champagne is also traditionally paired with ‘rich’ foods: foie gras, terrine, oysters, for instance. The bubbles themselves, or rather the boosted acidity from the additional carbon dioxide is what helps here to cut through that richness, cleansing the palate, and creating an overall pleasant matching. This heightened acidity is what all sparkling wines have in common. And I think this palate-cleansing properties is what facilitates a bubbly’s ability to suit many foods.

      I don’t think Champagne goes ‘amazingly’ with all foods, however it can goes perfectly with a few dishes, and ‘very well’ with many. The celeriac tart and the pork belly I mention being examples of each of these, respectively.

  3. James says:

    I just noticed Deutz has a New Zealand outfit. Their Marlborough Cuvee won the International Sparkling Wine award in London in 1998. Interesting! http://www.deutz.co.nz/

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