A friend of mine recently turned 50. She is a highly regarded sommelier, whose name shall remain confidential for the purpose of discretion. Her birthday party was filled with great people (lots of wine geeks) who were told to each bring two different bottles of wine. So what do you bring to a wine expert who’s celebrating a big number? Champagne of course - and lots of it!
The bubbles were abundant, and it was the perfect thing to sip on to commemorate her special day. One might imagine that fancy food would be the obvious choice with a large group of people. Although we love good food and wine, it does not mean we’re fussy or pretentious. Yes, there were plenty of oysters to shuck and to enjoy between the dips in the lake, but the one thing we couldn’t stop eating was the crisp Miss Vickie’s Original Recipe, sea salt chips! Call it a guilty pleasure, but there is nothing more satisfying and comforting than salty crisp chips and bubbles. At least if you have a salt tooth.
If Champagne is the ultimate treat, there is plenty of delicious well-priced sparkling wine that can be just as enjoyable, but the quality of the chips is non-negotiable. Forget about the Doritos, Ruffles Barbecue or Cheetos Flaming Hot. You want to go with something delicious and simple. Sea salt and sparkling wine work like magic together. Besides, you don’t want the chips to take over the delicate flavours of the sparkler. Miss Vickie’s Original Recipe is a great choice, but I also like kettle chips with sea salt or sea salt and vinegar.
Food and wine pairing does not need to be fancy to be enjoyable. And if you really want to be geeky about something so ‘simple,’ do a bubble and chip tasting. Open a bunch of different bags of chips and create your own tasting to decide which one you think is the best match. That is the kind of thing my wine geek friends and I do! You can even experiment with Canadian bubbles. There are a lot of good options, such as Summerhill Cipes Brut, and Benjamin Bridge Brut 2008 (tested and approved with Miss Vickie’s). Forget about the usual wine and cheese for your next gathering and make it a bubbles and chips night. You’ll make new friends - I promise! Santé!
Michelle Bouffard is a wine educator and journalist who splits her time between Montréal & Vancouver. She is the president of the BC Chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers. She Tweets @michellebwine and Instagrams @michellebouffard.