Phillip's food matches for Fizz

23rd July 2014

My wife Steph adores Champagne. To celebrate the millennium I bought her a ’64 vintage – the year she was born – and it came as no surprise that it was a good year for Champagne. But you don’t have to break the bank. From Champagne to Asti, these days there are so many types to choose from to match all budgets. As you’ll see from my selection here, you can mark a special occasion for under £7.

Sometimes a celebration starts with just the pop of a cork, so there’s no excuse not to!

1. Pol Roger Brut Réserve NV, £39.99/75cl
If I am buying anyone a present, a magnum of Pol Roger makes a lovely gift. It was Winston Churchill’s favourite fizz, but the reason I like it is for its delicate balance of acidity and bubbles. It’s very drinkable, versatile, not to mention the classiest Champagne on the block.

2. Waitrose Blanc de Blancs Brut NV, £24.99/75cl
When it comes to Champagne, my personal tendency is always for the more oaty and bready flavours and a creamy texture like those found here. This one, made from Chardonnay grapes, works well with lots of food and goes especially well with seafood.

3. Waitrose Blanc de Noirs Brut NV, £21.99/75cl
This is made from Pinot grapes, a miraculous white wine from a red grape, hence its name. And what a Champagne – soft, supple and structured but not overpowering, it has an elegance to it. It rings of class and style.

4. Waitrose Bright and Fruity Sparkling Italian Wine NV, £6.49/75cl
This is made from Glera, the new name for the Prosecco grape, sourced from Italian growers and co-operatives. It’s light and fresh, and if you don’t like the acidity of Champagne, this is a lovely softer alternative – and at 11.5% alcohol it’s a good one for brunch.

5. San Leo Nerello Mascalese/Garganega Rosato NV, £10.49/75cl
This rosé fizz looks so beautiful and delicate but make no mistake, it’s a wonderful match for the canapé recipes on this page. It particularly stood up to the teriyaki and wasn’t overpowered by the sweet and salty beef. If you like rosé in summer, go up a gear with a blush fizz.

6. San Leo Asti NV, £9.99/75cl
Forget everything you think you know about Asti and try this. It’s a relaxed fizz that brings with it cheerful flavours of elderflower that go well with fruit. It lacks the dryness of Champagne and it’s also relatively low alcohol, so great for a picnic or during the day

Fizz Food Match: Summer canapés

Serves 6

Beef teriyaki skewers
500g beef rump steak
1 bunch salad onions,
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

For the teriyaki sauce
125ml soy sauce
4 tbsp mirin
3 tbsp golden caster sugar
1 tbsp clear honey
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed

Smoked salmon farls
2 x 240g packs Rankin
Traditional Irish Potato Farls (4 per pack)
140g pack Peat & Heather Scottish Smoked Salmon
170g tub soured cream
2 tbsp finely chopped chives

Asparagus with aioli
5 tbsp mayonnaise
½ x 20g pack tarragon, chopped
1 small clove garlic, grated
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
300g asparagus tips, trimmed

1. For the beef skewers: whisk together the sauce ingredients. Cut the beef and salad onions into bitesize pieces and pour over the sauce. Cover and chill in the fridge for 2 hours.

2. Drain the sauce into a small pan, bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes until reduced and sticky. Set aside to cool slightly. Meanwhile, thread the beef and salad onions onto 18 skewers. Cook on a preheated griddle for 1-2 minutes on each side until cooked to your liking. Brush with the cooled teriyaki sauce, sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve.

3. For the salmon farls: preheat the oven to 180°C, gas mark 4. Cut each farl into quarters then place on a baking sheet and cook for 8 minutes. Meanwhile, cut the salmon into 32 pieces. Transfer the warm farls to a serving platter, top each with a spoonful of soured cream and a piece of smoked salmon. Season with black pepper and scatter over the chives to serve.

4. For the asparagus: combine the mayonnaise, tarragon, garlic, vinegar and mustard in a bowl and season. Cook the tips in a large pan of boiling water for 2-3 minutes until tender. Drain and serve with the tarragon aioli.

Fizz Food Match: Fresh fruit & elderflower salad

Serves 4

400g pack strawberries, hulled and halved
400g seedless black grapes, halved
2 ripe peaches, stoned and sliced
360g raspberries
175g blueberries
100ml elderflower cordial
3 sprigs fresh mint, leaves torn

1. Combine the fruits and cordial in a large bowl and toss to combine. Transfer to the fridge and chill for 2 hours.

2. Remove from the fridge, stir through the mint leaves and serve straight away.

Order any 6 wines or spirits with free delivery at

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