North Carolina native Sarah Simmons will open Birds and Bubbles in New York City next month. As you might imagine from the restaurant’s name, chicken and sparkling wine are on the menu, the signature pairing being buttermilk-brined fried chicken and a half bottle of one of 40 Champagnes for $55. “Even a sweet-tea addict from Alabama might admit that a good glass of bubbles with crisp acidity and a delicate fizz nicely cuts the greasy richness of that southern staple,” reads a New York Magazine article on the subject.
The Champagne-plus-ordinary-food business model has proven to be a successful one. Bubbledogs in London calls itself “a Champagne bar that does not serve caviar.” Instead, the menu is all hot dog, and the Champagne list is “awesome” says Pearl & Ash wine director Patrick Cappiello. “It’s like the who’s who of great grower Champagnes.”
Cappiello believes the grower Champagne movement is responsible for the excitement around casual Champagne drinking. “Mass-production wine has become less fashionable, and smaller producers are getting more confident,” he told us. It used to be that Champagne growers would supply grapes to the Moëts and Roederers of the world, but now, they’re making their own small batches of bubbly from their own harvests.
Good “farmer fizz,” as importer Terry Theise calls it, is more affordable than big-label Champagne, thus the more casual attitude towards it.
“ Sparkling wines are more food-friendly now than ever,” said Cappiello. “Even if you look at big houses, they have toned back sugar levels in the wines. Ten years ago Veuve Clicquot was sweeter. Our palates are evolving.”
Here are some not-so-highbrow foods that deserve to be enjoyed with a side of bubbles.