There are tons of great classic pairings like wine and steak, peanut butter and jelly, bacon and eggs, and grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. They’re established to be best together, complementing each others’ flavors.
There are also lots of popular odd pairings like soda and chicken, chocolate and chips, salami and grapes, and pizza and ranch dressing. They sound weird but they’re known to taste great and are convincing more and more people to give them a try.
A new addition to the list of odd pairings is champagne and french fries. It’s not as weird or gross-sounding as the others in its category but it’s still an unusual combination if you’ll think of it. It’s why it’s not really surprising that it’s gaining a lot of buzz as of late.
If you’ll think about it, fries and champagne don’t really seem that odd to eat together. They don’t have clashing flavors, so why not? The only thing really that’s keeping them apart is the fact that they’re usually consumed on different occasions. You can’t really expect to order a bottle of champagne at Hooters or Chili’s where the fries are bestsellers, right?
French fries are possibly the ultimate comfort food so it’s not always present when the celebratory drink, champagne, is served. Fries are also not always the first thing you’ll order in a fine dining restaurant which are the common places for drinking champagnes. Even at fancy events where champagne flutes are floated around, fries aren’t usually the top picks for party foods.
Honestly, you might need to be someone fancy to get the opportunity to order french fries with your Champagne. Otherwise, there are just not a lot of opportunities for these two items to meet.
It’s a case of low brow and high brow foods, really. French fries are enjoyed by everyone. Some people even consider them as staple foods, despite being quite unhealthy. They’re very accessible and even easy to prepare at home, so there’s pretty much nothing special about them.
Champagne, on the other hand, is one of the farthest things from being an everyday food, unless you’re rich and famous, of course. Regular people don’t always get to pop a $50 bottle of this bubbly on a regular day.
Most of us will more likely reach for an affordable bottle of white wine, rose, or maybe even a flavored beer if we’re feeling like drinking something quite fancy. These drinks are pretty much the last items that most folks will take out of their heavily-guarded liquor cabinets when they want to dig in on a heaping bowl of fries with a nice drink.
However, since fries are salty and starchy, pairing them with a bubbly sweet drink makes perfect sense. According to Marie-Christine Osselin, Moët & Chandon’s wine quality and communication manager, the crunchiness and saltiness of the french fries are the ideal accompaniment to the zesty acidity and delicate bubbliness of champagne. As a result, they balance out each others’ flavors and creates a wonderful experience for your palate.
Wine editor Ray Isle seconds this opinion and emphasizes that it’s a nice thing to pair a greasy dish with a glass of bubbly. Apparently, he’s been recommending this combo to sommeliers for years. In his words, ‘salt and fat plus high acid and bubbles’ are a great combination.
He even goes as far as recommending pork fat rinds as alternatives to french fries. He just doesn’t think the makers of the fancy drinks will support his very homey suggestion.
If you’re the type who likes dipping, however, Osselin cautions that what you take with champagne should be kept simple. It shouldn’t have more than 3 ingredients, so that’s already the potato, salt, and pepper. If you like dipping your fries in sauce, you’ll be pushing it already. It’s not that you can’t, though, but it’s not recommended by experts.
While shocking to a lot of people, it turns out that this pairing has been an industry secret all along. In fact, according to Town and Country, french fries and Delamotte Brut champagne are some of the most famous appetizers in the fancy New Orleans restaurant, Sylvain. They describe it as the ‘perfect combination’ and can cost diners up to a hundred bucks per serving.
The owner, Sean McCusker, discovered the pairing during a Veuve Cliquot event where one of the top guys of the company shared that he loves eating ‘pomme frites’ with his champagne. He gave it a try at Les Halles where Anthony Bourdain was the chef and made what McCusker believed was the best fries in New York and found the experience to be revelatory.
It’s not the same thing but the folks at People also think it’s somehow similar to the concept once offered by the now-defunct Birds & Bubbles eatery in New York. They paired fried chicken with champagne to provide a beautiful balance between acidity and grease and it made waves in 2014 in Manhattan.
If you want to give that a try, The Crack Shack is a fried chicken restaurant with an in-house Moët champagne vending machine, so combining the two will be easy. They also serve french fries, so you can add it to the mix.