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26 O C E A N H O M E M A G . C O M | A p r i l + M a y 2 0 1 6 Excellent taste "The best guide to pairing champagne with food is to trust your own palate," says Megan Libby, director of brand education at Moët Hennessy USA. A Toast to Champagne CHAMPAGNE ISN'T JUST FOR CELEBRATIONS AND TOASTS – IT'S THE PERFECT PAIRING WITH FOOD words by Andrew Conway T hink of champagne and the word celebration springs to mind, right? ose pin-size bubbles, like sparkling diamonds, are the perfect way to toast a birthday, marriage or anniversary. But here's a vintage idea: pairing champagne with a leisurely weekend lunch, brunch or an alfresco dinner under the stars, preferably with the sound of the ocean as a romantic backdrop. "e bubbles and crisp acidity of champagne make it the ultimate food partner," says Megan Libby, director of brand education at Moët Hennessy USA. "Champagne navigates a cocktail party and its sea of flavors like no other beverage, so there's no reason not to begin a new tradition of champagne at the dinner table," she adds. While price is an inevitable driving force in the choice of champagne, Libby insists it's worth the investment. "Moët and Chandon is a blend of 100 different wines and takes almost three years to craft by hand, yet costs $45 a bottle," she says. "It's a modest outlay for a special meal." So which foods and champagnes pair best? "I don't subscribe to rules," says Libby. "You should drink what you love with the food you love, but with a little research and attention to detail you can find the perfect pairings." For seafood, Libby's go-to is a Ruinart Blanc de Blancs, a 100-percent Chardonnay champagne that's light and citrusy. With white meat such as roast chicken, Libby recommends Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label or Rosé. While red meat and champagne don't seem like a natural fit, a topnotch rosé cuvée is another excellent pairing. "e rose gold color comes from red wine in the original blend, which gives structure and tannin to the champagne, making it very compatible and a great choice with red meat," says Libby. Vegetarians should opt for brut champagne, or a brut rosé if the vegetables are roasted or on the sweeter side. For a special occasion cheese plate, Krug Grande Cuvée is powerful enough to stand up to intense cheeses, but not too bold to overpower softer ones. Dessert also calls for something special. e tropical fruit and caramel notes in Moët and Chandon's Nectar Imperial or Nectar Imperial Rosé are ideal for cakes or casual party treats. For more elegant desserts, Libby recommends Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec, which can even be served from a decanter. "e only pairing I'd advise against is a very dry brut with a very sweet dessert," adds Libby. "e classic wedding cake and champagne toast is an absolute disaster in my book. But the best guide is your own palate. Trust it and you'll rarely go wrong." THE DETAILS For more information, visit mhusa.com. Entertaining PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF MOËT HENNESSY USA