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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ruinart: Bubbles And Batter?

Champagne, Fish 'n' Chips: Say It Aint Sole!

Okay - so eating fish and chips with a fine Champagne may seem a little weird but it made complete sense to me.  Allow me a few lines to set this appetite for degustation in a historical context. You see, as a young teen, I was sent out to the local youth club every Saturday night.  Aside from the opportunity to hang with older kids and listen to music my parents wouldn't allow in the house, youth club was my chance to get fish and chips at the "chippy" just around the corner. At 9 pm, we would collectively gather our jackets and, like a clutch of chattering ducklings, brave the cold for the hundred yard walk to our gustatory reward. 

Yes, it was almost always cold.  It was Ireland, and the youth club was closed during what we called the "summer months"), but I digress.  The smell of hot oil, freshly cooked chips and crisp batter filled the air, and we were transported almost cartoon-like on the wafting scent to the brightly lit doorway.  We would often share a portion of fish and chips between two or three - partly out of a need to combine our pocket money and partly because the servings were simply huge. At least, that is my recollection.

We would huddle together, can of ice cold Coca-Cola in one hand, and the other, frigid, carefully lifting the freshly salted, crisp and steaming delight from the paper.  Oooh, I can almost smell and taste it. I can also remember the sensory confusion of combining ice cold and intense heat, when it was my turn to hold the food. I would have to balance the hot chip packet in same hand in which I needed to hold my coke, liberating the other hand so I could still eat.  It was almost painful but all I was interested in was devouring the glorious deep fried delight before it cooled in the night air. The chilled, carbonated soda was, I thought, the ideal thing to wash it all down, leaving only a salty, greasy memory on my lips.

I was reminiscing about these halcyon days with another expat colleague, whilst complaining that no such thing existed close enough to my home outside Baltimore when I was struck by the somewhat obvious idea that I could recreate my once-favored meal.  However, this idea also presented a new and somewhat tantalizing opportunity. What would be my grown-up beverage of choice, soda?  Nah!  It would be Champagne!  Yes, it would be bubbles, and I knew just the one with which what I wanted to try my home-fried treasure - Ruinart Blanc de Blanc NV.

In Belfast, in the '70s/'80s, hot, fresh, Fish and Chips was frequently the closest thing to sunshine in a long dreary winter of conflict.

I retrieved the champagne from the chill cabinet and set about preparing my home made fish and chips.  I cubed a 1 lb piece of cod in to approximately 1" pieces while the oil heated.  I made a simple beer (Guinness) batter and seasoned some flour in which to drench the fish.  If you need details reach out to me on twitter @BruisedGrape The results are pictured above and I can tell you, I was once again transported back to the youth club.  So, what about the champagne?

Sample kindly shared by Moet Hennessy USA

Ruinart Blanc de Blanc NV – no need to wait here. The cork released and glasses poured, this wine was delicious. I used simple white wine glasses for the wonderfully aromatic Ruinart. Beautifully high-toned aromas buttered toasted brioche, nutmeg, candied lemon, honey and orange zest and blossom leaped from the glass. On the palate, the brioche was layered with Seville orange marmalade and great notes of honey nectarine, and ginger baking spice. (Ruinart is on twitter @CarnetsRuinart

It was clean, crisp upon entry, finishing creamy dry with lovely bitter-edge lemon pith.  I loved everything about this wine, even the fact that I might not want to cellar it for a few years as I do with some others. The Ruinart gave the impression of being a pleasure to enjoy now, no waiting required. A highly rewarding experience. Available around the USA for approximately $65, meaning it may not be an everyday sipper but if you need a reward for what life can throw at you...   Here's your wine!  If you really need a score on this, I would place this comfortably in the 92-93 point range.

Follow me on twitter @bruisedGrape

Your comments are always appreciated! 

Disclosure: This was a media sample provided for the review process.

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