I want to start with a question: how many home-cooked meals do you eat compared to how many fine-dining dishes make their way to your stomach in a given year? Perhaps you are among the lucky few able to regularly indulge in the luxurious world of Michelin-starred restaurants. If, however, you are like me, the ratio more closely resembles the odds of winning Powerball lottery.
Now don’t get me wrong: I love fine dining as much as anyone. There’s nothing better than a team of highly trained culinary assassins and service ninjas moving around a well-appointed dining room, offering up first-class wines alongside plates of food suitable for a royal dinner in the court of Louis XVIII. Exasperatingly complicated marriages of disparate ingredients scintillate your senses as the vinous accompaniment generates new layers of flavour, elevating both to incredible heights.
Now let me ask you, dear reader, how many of these dishes will you create at home? At the end of a long day’s work, will you prepare a gastronomic masterpiece? Or is expediency of the utmost importance? Shall you sacrifice taste in the interest of immediacy? I say, no! Why not pair the complex flavours of a decadent wine with the ease and efficiency of an uncomplicated, though delicious meal? Only rarely can I afford both a decadent meal and an expensive bottle of wine as its pair. And thus, to one of my favourite pastimes: creating a mellifluousness of flavour on a modest budget.
What if a grilled cheese sandwich could be accompanied by a premium bottle of fine wine, like Champagne? Yes, the grilled cheese may be humble. But it can be elevated by using top-notch ingredients like Comté, a nutty, alpine cheese from Jura; or a well-aged Canadian Cheddar or Beemster, where the amino acids have begun to crystallise from ageing, adding a light crunch to each bite. Then again, feel free to add some prosciutto or bacon to your sandwich to add texture and flavour.
I chose a bottle of Philipponnat Royal Brut Réserve with Handeck grilled cheese. Handeck is an aged, wash-rind cows cheese made in the Swiss alpine style in Oxford County, Ontario. It offers up flavours of roasted hazelnuts, brown butter and salt, which are complementary to the rich, brioche notes in the Champagne.
Pursuing the pleasure of food needn’t be a rarity. Pairing a spectacular bottle of fizz with every day, honestly delicious meals, is a sublime treat with no fuss.
NV Philipponnat Royal Réserve Brut Champagne
USA: Buy now for only $52.99 and save $16!