With tiers of sandwiches, cakes and scones on the menu, an afternoon tea is one of Britain’s great culinary traditions. To celebrate the heritage, this week is Afternoon Tea Week in the UK and many will be enjoying a cup of Darjeeling or Earl Grey with their finger food.
While a cuppa is a standard offering, why not add some sparkle to your tea party? Here, Francoise Peretti, director of the Champagne Bureau UK, chooses the perfect champagne styles to go with your favourite tea time bites.
Whether it’s cakes and pastries you prefer, or something on the savoury side, Peretti suggests what champagne to pair for a perfect afternoon tea.
Pink hued rosé champagne
Smoked salmon on buttered brown bread or soft prawn rolls
“For the seafood aficionado, I would recommend a pink hued rosé champagne. An exceptionally versatile style that matches oily fish and shellfish harmoniously, the red berry aromas and flavours of this style also work delightfully with pastries or cakes featuring strawberries and raspberries.”
Zero dosage champagne
Cucumber sandwich with minted cream cheese
“I would recommend a zero dosage champagne, also known as ‘Extra Brut’, for a vegetarian-based teatime. The delicate flavours pair very well with the no-frills, low-to-no sugar style which will let the vegetables’ natural sweetness to express themselves.”
Blanc de blancs champagne
Egg mayonnaise and cress sandwich
“I would recommend a blanc de blancs champagne for more creamy or rich elements, in particular buttery pastries. Made from 100% chardonnay, a blanc de blancs champagne is a fresh and lively style known for its citrus fruit flavours and aromas. This will balance your experience, cutting through any potential heaviness and making everything taste much lighter.”
Blanc de noirs champagne
Coronation chicken or beef pastrami with caramelised onions sandwich
“For meat lovers, I would recommend choosing a blanc de noirs champagne. This is a white champagne made from 100% black grapes – pinot noir or meunier. With more structure, this style offers champagne holding against the meat powerful flavours. Potentially opening on red fruit flavours, a blanc de boirs champagne also fares well with sweet/savoury combinations.”
Freshly baked scones with strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream
“For the quintessential afternoon tea snacks, I would recommend trying a demi-sec champagne. Still incredibly fresh but slightly sweeter, it is softer on the palate when paired with sugary treats.”
A secret tip…
“If you want to pair one special bottle for the whole tea party, choose vintage champagne from your favourite style. Vintage champagnes are aged on the lees for a minimum of three years, although many are in fact aged for a lot longer, sometimes up to a decade. The wines have time to develop deeper layers of complexity and new aromas. At times brioche, pastry, butter and toffee aromas and flavours. Sometimes even earthy tobacco, dried fruits, and spice. With the capacity to pair with different snacks and dishes, your vintage champagne will be the ultimate food-pairing star wine for your next teatime.”