Within minutes of arriving at Carnivale du Vin, I was handed a glass of Roederer Champagne, kissed by Emeril, and made serious eye contact with Sammy Hagar, dressed in a red tuxedo. It was that sort of evening.
The swanky dinner and live auction, held earlier this month in New Orleans, is the premiere fundraiser for The Emeril Lagasse Foundation. For the second year in a row, Champagne Louis Roederer was a proud sponsor of the event, and donated champagne for the weekend’s various activities, including a rare jeroboam of Cristal Rose for the live auction on Saturday night (it went home with Mario Batali).
Meeting Mr. Bubbly himself, Gregory Balogh, President & CEO of Maisons Marques & Domaines, and with the holidays right around the corner, I couldn’t resist asking him a few questions about my favorite fizzy elixir.
Why is it the best time of year to drink champagne?
I recommend drinking champagne all year as an aperitif and I personally also drink it with some appetizers such as Scottish smoke salmon, caviar, white asparagus with hollandaise.
Is there an ideal way to enjoy champagne?
Champagne is best at about 45ºF and I like to use a glass that is wider than a flute which allows the bouquet to open correctly. The glass should allow swirling which is almost impossible with a flute.
What are your three favorite Champagne pairings?
Brut NV pairs well with a fresh goat cheese, a creamy veal or chicken dish. A Brut Vintage with a little bet of cellaring can go with most dishes and I often consume a Rosé during an entire meal. Rosé Champagne has the power and body to stand up to most dishes.
Are you a fan of easy embellishments (e.g. a few pomegranate seeds or a splash or St. Germaine) or a purist?
I am a purist. Great Champagnes have so many nuances and aromas that I would not dare to modify what the grapes are trying to express.
Why is it worth it to drink the real deal versus sparkling wines like prosseco or cava?
Once you are a fan of Champagne or a very good sparkling wine and consume them often it is very difficult to switch to a prosseco or cava as we are in a different world.
What three dream companions would you choose to drink Champagne with (living or dead)?
Mick Jagger, Penélope Cruz, and Buster Posey
What can we expect from Roederer in the coming year?
Only the best.