What goes best with bubbly?
What goes best with bubbly? Some pair it with beluga caviar, others prefer foie gras or smoked salmon. But now the best accompaniment for fine champagne can be revealed after a lifetime's work: the humble radish.
The amazing truth was part of a discovery by a renowned French chemist who spent half a century painstakingly researching which foods go best with different wines.
Jacques Puisais, 93, has now convinced experts of the validity of his methods, including Didier Depond, the head of the venerable Delamotte champagne maker.
“Radishes and champagne are a perfect match,” Depond said. He is so enamoured of the piquant, peppery bite of the radish when paired with the crispness of a dry fizz that he has taken to growing his own radishes.
“They have all the virtues. They cost hardly anything and they don’t make you fat,” Depond said during a recent virtual champagne tasting with 28 guests.
Connoisseurs have known for some time that the salad vegetable makes an ideal accompaniment for champagne but it took the coronavirus lockdown for the merits of the unlikely pairing to reach a wider public in France.
The pandemic robbed the champagne market of its sparkle, with sales sinking by up to 80 per cent as festivities, especially weddings, dried up. Producers went online, organising virtual wine tastings and offering advice on serving temperatures and aperitif snacks.
Many people who took part in the pre-supper events, designed to help them to relax after a hard day working from home, were astonished to be advised to prepare radishes, more commonly eaten by the French with butter and salt, alongside smoked salmon, ham, and slices of Comte or a similar mild cheese.
“Radishes certainly became a talking point,” Depond said. “But when people try them, they realise immediately.”
Dr Puisais explained the science to The Daily Telegraph: “Radish gives you a stimulation that is similar to champagne. The piquant taste of the radish is recorded in your brain so that when you then take a sip of champagne, the champagne tastes more fruity.”
Dr Puisais, who describes himself as a “taste philosopher”, holds a PhD in chemistry and headed a laboratory for many years. “What I regret is that people serve any old thing with champagne,” he said. “Champagne is demanding. It cannot be paired with just anything.”
The Daily Telegraph