- Why you should be drinking champagne in winter, too
- A beginner's guide to champagne styles (and food pairings)
There's nothing sommeliers get more excited about than matching fizz with food, except for maybe vin jaune and fondling dirt. Here are five places with an excellent champagne offering and ideas for how to pair it during these months of porridge and jeggings.
Piemontese tortellini of roast rabbit and parmigiano reggiano, veal jus, peas and porcini ($24) with NV Philipponnat Royale Reserve Brut ($27 a glass, $88 a half-bottle).
Customers find this champagne pretty interesting because it has a lot of complexity even though it's a non-vintage," says Kara Maisano, sommelier and wine director at Masani. "It's textured and rich with scents of white truffle, button mushroom, baked grapefruit, buttered toast and dried ginger. Barrel maturation and 30 per cent reserve wine lend perfectly to this subtle, gamey pasta."
313 Drummond Street, Carlton
Roast cauliflower, white miso and furikake ($18) with NV Egly-Ouriet Brut Tradition ($325 a bottle).
"Supernormal's cauliflower is big on savoury notes," says Leanne Altmann, sommelier and beverage director for Andrew McConnell's restaurants. "There's sesame, citrus, dried orange peel and butter, and it works well with champagne that has a little more richness and power. Egly-Ouriet is one of the cult champagne producers and all about concentration and complexity. Such a benchmark. You can always splash out on a bottle of Krug too. Krug kind of goes with everything."
180 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Handmade crab snags in brioche ($28) with Ruinart Rosé ($45 a glass, $310 a bottle).
Ruinart rosé is no longer on the Lui Bar menu but it's still available through Vue de Monde next door if you ask. "The rosé is fresh, fruity and floral with delicious red berry notes that compliment toasted brioche perfectly," says Lui and Vue sommelier Carlos Simoes Santos. "The champagne's high acidity also cuts through the richness of the crab sausages."
Level 55, Rialto, 525 Collins Street, Melbourne
Bellota Wine Bar
Fregola pasta, king prawns, feta and pangrattato ($24) with 2009 Andre Clouet Brut ($110 from Prince Wine Store, plus $15 corkage).
Praise be to bars with wine stores attached. "For a dish that makes the most of the exceptional quality of Australian seafood and warms the cockles in turn, order our fregola pasta with sweet and succulent king prawns," says Bellota manager Megan Bourke. "It lends itself to something with richness, length and generosity, which is delivered in spades by vintage Andre Clouet Brut."
181 Bank Street, South Melbourne
Charred savoy cabbage, fermented quince butter and lemon thyme ($14) with NV Charles Dufour Bulles de Comptoir No. 6 ($190 a bottle).
"I'd lean towards champagne with a touch more dosage in the cooler months compared to summer, like this Charles Dufour NV," says Bar Liberty bar manager and wine buyer Josh Begbie. "It has four grams of sugar per litre but also a small amount of pinot blanc added to the usual pinot noir and chardonnay blend giving it some nice lush wintry yellow fruit characteristics. Perfect for our charred savoy cabbage."
234 Johnston Street, Fitzroy
Melbourne's best bottle shops for champagne
City Wine Shop 159 Spring Street, Melbourne
Blackhearts & Sparrows 202 Swan Street, Richmond, and various locations
Dan Murphy's Cellar 282 Chapel Street, Prahran
Toorak Cellars 18 Beatty Avenue, Armadale
Act of Wine 22 Fanning Street, Southbank
Nicks Wine Merchants 10-12 Jackson Court, Doncaster East
Cloudwine Cellars 317 Clarendon Street, South Melbourne.