Champagne is fantastic!

What's left in the bottle can make food sparkle

Posted: Wednesday, January 09, 2008


  Photo by Sue Ade/Morris News Ser

Photo by Sue Ade/Morris News Ser

In the week or so since our New Year's Eve celebrations, some of us still have unfinished bottles of champagne taking up space in our refrigerators.Whether it still holds a bit of sparkle or has completely fallen flat, there's much life left in those bottles waiting to get out and take new shape in the form of dishes both savory and sweet.

When champagne is used as an ingredient, it not only lends exceptional flavor to whatever is being prepared, it also fuels the expectation that what we are about to eat will be something special. In fact, whenever we think of champagne, we tend to conjure up thoughts of things that are special as champagne has traditionally been along for the ride in nearly every celebratory event or tradition that occurs in our lives.

I no longer save champagne for just special occasions, but rather enjoy it often and with equal enthusiasm with a diverse array of foods that range from scrambled eggs and strawberries to lobster tails and angel food cake. The cost of champagne can vary from very expensive to exceedingly affordable, but champagne need not be the pricey kind to work well in recipes.

Despite the similarities of champagne to other wines used in cooking, nothing can compare to champagne's natural effervescent properties and reputation for quality. Besides all that, champagne is classy and glamorous and whatever's left in the bottle has the ability to contribute that added bit of sparkle that many recipes lack. Champagne, in a word, is fantastic and the dishes cooked with it are sublime.

The three kinds of champagne most often sold in the United States are brut (very dry), extra dry (slightly sweet), and dry (sweet). The sabayon dessert pictured in the background was made with extra dry champagne. To help berries keep their shape in champagne, freeze them before dropping them into a glass.

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