Sparkling wine in South Africa
South Africa, with its sun-kissed vineyards and cool coastal breezes, has long been a haven for wine enthusiasts. The country’s sparkling wine tradition, particularly the renowned Methode Cap Classique (MCC), stands as a testament to its rich winemaking heritage. As you journey through the rolling wine lands, the story of South African bubbles unfurls, combining age-old techniques with modern twists to create effervescent masterpieces that captivate palates worldwide. Whether you’re a seasoned oenophile or a curious newcomer, there’s an enchanting sparkle waiting for you in the heart of Mzansi.
The differences between sparkling wine, champagne, and MCC (methode cap classique)
Sparkling wine is a broad term that describes any wine with bubbles. Champagne, on the other hand, is exclusively from the Champagne region of France, distinguished not just by its origin but by its production process and its unique terroir. Then there’s South Africa’s gem: Methode Cap Classique (MCC). Historically produced using the same rigorous, traditional method as Champagne. To distinguish it further, MCC is undergoing a name transition to simply “Cap Classique“. This evolution marks a celebration of its unique identity while paying homage to the timeless techniques behind it. You can learn more about the differences between sparkling wine, Champagne, and MCC in our blog post.
Sparkling wine and food pairings
Sparkling wine, often the star of celebrations and toast-worthy moments, isn’t just reserved for raising glasses in cheers. Beyond the festivity, its effervescence can be a culinary game-changer when paired with the right dish. This guide aims to elevate your dining experiences, showcasing the sublime matches between various foods and the diverse spectrum of sparkling wines.
What to consider when pairing sparkling wine and food
Understanding the multifaceted world of sparkling wine is crucial for achieving perfect pairings. The characteristics of sparkling wine vary a lot depending on the types of grape varietals used to produce the wine, the style the wine was produced in, and the terroir of production. The flavour profiles can vary from light and zesty to robust and nutty. The degree of sweetness, too, can oscillate from a dry brut to lusciously sweet. Given this vast array, it’s clear that no single dish can universally complement all sparkling wines. We’ve put together a guide with the top sparkling wine and food pairings, ensuring a pairing that’s just right for every bubbly bottle.
Top pairings of food and sparkling wine
Navigating the effervescent world of sparkling wine, it’s crucial to find culinary companions that enhance and harmonise with the bubbly’s character. Here’s our curated list of seven pairings that promise to elevate your sparkling wine experience, each one marrying the wine’s distinct notes with the dish’s unique flavours for an unforgettable gastronomic delight. Dive in and discover your next favourite duo!
1. Brut Cap Classique with Oysters
The pristine, briny essence of oysters finds its soulmate in the light and crisp, mineral undertones of a dry, Brut Cap Classique sparkling wine (try Stettyn Cellar’s Deed Cap Classique Brut NV wine).
This classic pairing works wonders because of the perfect balance struck between the salinity of the oysters and the fresh acidity of the sparkling wine. As the oyster’s marine-laden flavours dance on your palate, the effervescence of the MCC cleanses and revives, prepping your mouth for the next delightful bite. It’s not just the complimentary tastes, but also the textures— the creaminess of the oyster juxtaposed against the bubbly fizz—that create a symphony of sensations. Whether you’re indulging in the wild coastal oysters of the Cape or farm-raised variants, a glass of Brut MCC elevates the experience, encapsulating the very essence of the ocean’s bounty. So, the next time you shuck open a fresh oyster, make sure there’s a chilled glass of South African Brut MCC by its side.
2. Rosé Sparkling Wine with Sushi
Rosé sparkling wine, with its blush undertones and hints of red berries, becomes a sublime companion to the artful world of sushi.
This pairing is about delicate harmonies: the umami-richness of sushi, whether it’s a velvety slice of tuna sashimi or a classic California roll, is enhanced by the Rosé’s vibrant fruit notes. The sushi’s subtle flavours, often accented by soy and wasabi, are refreshed and reset by the wine’s effervescence and crisp acidity. That gentle hint of strawberry or cherry in the Rosé contrasts beautifully with the oceanic nuances of the sushi. Every bite of sushi, followed by a sip of this sparkling delight, is a dance of textures and flavours, ensuring a culinary experience that lingers in memory. So, when your sushi platter graces the table, make sure a chilled bottle of Stettyn Cellar’s Babelki Brut Sparkling Rosé is ready to pour.
3. Demi-Sec Sparkling Wine with Milk Tart (Melktert)
Demi-Sec sparkling wine, known for its slightly sweeter character, finds an exquisite counterpart in the creamy, cinnamon-laced allure of Melktert. This traditional South African dessert, with its smooth custard filling and hint of nutmeg, becomes even more decadent when savoured with the gentle bubbles of a Demi-Sec wine. The wine’s residual sweetness complements the mild sugary notes of the tart, while its effervescence cuts through the creaminess, striking a balance that’s both rich and refreshing. The aromatic spices of the Melktert, particularly the cinnamon, interplay with the wine’s fruity undertones, creating a symphony of flavours that resonate with South African heritage.
For those looking to explore further, this pairing paves the way to experiment with other South African desserts, such as koeksisters or malva pudding, which can also find harmonious partners in sparkling wines. If you’re looking for some other wine and dessert pairings have a look at our white wine and dessert pairing in our white wine and food pairing blog post.
4. Blanc de Blancs with Goat’s Cheese Salad
Blanc de Blancs is a type of sparkling wine crafted solely from Chardonnay grapes. It has pronounced acidity and an elegant profile, making it a dream partner for a fresh goat’s cheese salad. The wine’s zesty acidity slices through the creamy richness of the cheese, creating a palate-cleansing sensation that enhances each bite. This makes every morsel feel fresh and new, allowing you to rediscover the intricate flavours of the salad and wine with each taste. For an impeccable pairing, consider vegetable accompaniments like roasted beetroot, which adds earthy sweetness, or crisp green apples, offering a tart crunch. Walnuts or candied pecans can also introduce a delightful textural contrast, while arugula or baby spinach lay down a peppery green base that’s uplifted by the Blanc de Blancs’ mineral notes. In essence, this pairing is about balance and harmony, creating a refreshing, rich, and utterly captivating experience.
We know not everyone loves goat’s cheese so have a read through our wine and cheese pairing guide for some extra sparkling wine and cheese pairings to try.
5. Rosé Sparkling Wine with Cape Malay Chicken Curry
Curry and sparkling wine might not be a classic food pairing with sparkling wine, but Rosé sparkling wine, with its graceful notes of red berries and subtle floral undertones, offers an unexpected yet delightful pairing with the aromatic spices of Cape Malay chicken curry. The wine’s refreshing bubbles provide a captivating contrast to the curry’s complex, spicy profile, allowing the bright fruit notes to shimmer against the backdrop of chilies and fragrant herbs. This contrast illuminates the nuanced flavours of star anise, clove, and ginger in the curry.
If you’re eager to extend the culinary journey with Rosé sparkling wine, other Cape Malay classics like lamb bredie or bobotie become enticing options. Their interplay of savoury and sweet can beautifully harmonise with the fruity essence of the Rosé.
6. Pinot Noir Sparkling Wine with Biltong
When it comes to robust and characterful pairings, Pinot Noir sparkling wine and biltong stand out as a match made in culinary heaven.
The deep, red fruit notes of the Pinot Noir sparkling wine—think ripe cherries and raspberries—complement the earthy, umami-rich flavours of the biltong. This synergy is heightened as the wine’s effervescence contrasts the chewy texture of the dried meat, offering a palate-refreshing experience after each bite.
Beyond biltong, other dried meats like droëwors (dried sausage) or even game meats such as kudu or springbok biltong, can be exceptional partners for this wine. If you’re in the mood for lighter snacks, roasted nuts, especially almonds or cashews, can play up the wine’s toasty undertones.
Try this wine pairing at home with Stettyn Cellar’s Babelki Rosé (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir), the perfect accompaniment to your pre-braai snacks or to pair with a charcuterie board. If champagne and sparkling wine are not your favourite, why not try one of our red wine and food pairings instead.
7. Cuvée Sparkling Wine with Prawn Braai
Elevate your seaside braai or barbeque experience with the elegant pairing of Cuvée sparkling wine and prawn braai.
Cuvée, often a blend of various grape varieties, carries a nuanced complexity that marries beautifully with the smoky, charred essence of prawns grilled over an open flame. The wine’s lively effervescence and bright citrus notes uplift the spicy, succulent prawns, making every mouthful a burst of harmonious flavours.
To further enhance this symphony of tastes, consider side dishes like a fresh mango salsa, which brings sweetness and tanginess, or a light avocado and corn salad, adding creaminess that resonates with the wine’s texture.
As for sauces, a garlic and herb butter drizzle or a zesty lemon-pepper marinade can further bridge the gap between the prawn’s inherent oceanic flavour and the Cuvée’s layered palate. Together, they form a pairing that speaks of summer, sea, and South African conviviality, a celebration of coastal indulgence.
Try a bottle of Stettyn Cellar’s Deed Cap Classique with your next prawn braai and bring along in a handy four or six bottle champagne cooler bag to ensure it’s kept at the perfect temperature (these champagne cooler bags make excellent gifts too!).
Tips for Creating Your Own Sparkling Wine and Food Pairings
Venturing into the world of sparkling wine and food pairings is an art, but a few guiding principles can ensure your combinations are more hit than miss.
The golden rule is balance: always match the intensity of the wine with that of the dish. A robust sparkling wine demands a flavourful dish, while lighter bubbles suit delicate bites. Acidity is another key player; dishes with a citrus or vinegary note pair beautifully with wines that boast a pronounced acidity, as they complement and elevate each other. When contemplating sweetness, ensure your wine is at least as sweet as your dish, if not slightly sweeter, to prevent the wine from tasting flat. Lastly, don’t forget about texture. The effervescence of sparkling wine can cut through richer dishes, refreshing the palate and enhancing the overall dining experience.
Remember, pairing is about creating a harmonious experience where both the wine and food shine, so trust your palate and enjoy the journey!
Final thoughts on pairing food and sparkling wine
Navigating the world of South African sparkling wine and its potential food pairings is an exciting journey, full of delightful discoveries and memorable moments. The rich history of wine tradition in our Cape region offers a kaleidoscope of taste experiences, from the revered Methode Cap Classique (recently embracing its new moniker, Cap Classique) to the deep complexities of vintage sparkling wine.
While we’ve provided some guiding pairings, the true joy lies in experimenting. Whether it’s a robust Rosé with a Cape Malay dish, a crisp Brut alongside seafood, or a sweet Demi-Sec savoured with traditional South African desserts, the possibilities are endless.
Visit Stettyn’s tasting room near Worcester in the Cape Winelands or shop our online wine store to explore Stettyn’s selection of beautiful South African wines and sparkling wines that will complement your culinary adventures. You can also shop for luxury wine accessories that make perfect gifts for the wine lovers in your life. Cheers to the wonderful world of sparkling wine pairings!