Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to a special lunch with the Chef de Cave of Ruinart Champagne, Frédéric Panaïotis, to try a selection of their wines with a small group of fellow enthusiasts.
We met in a beautiful Greenwich Village loft and mingled while everyone arrived and had snacks from the chef, while sipping glasses of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs.
The wines were expertly accompanied with a menu prepared by chef Michelle Bernstein of Michy’s in Miami.
Among the dishes that Chef Michelle prepared were salmon, prepared sous vide with a poached egg, a duck cassoulet with cranberry beans and baby turnips and a cheese plate with pears and figs.
Frédéric was eager to show that champagne isn’t just meant for a special occasions, as many Champagne houses have led us to believe over the years, but can actually be paired with any type of food that a still wine can. This has always been an opinion in our house—I love pairing sparkling wines with everything from sushi to buttered popcorn. It is always the perfect match.
As we ate, Frédéric answered our many questions: How is vineyard was coping with from global warming and green farming? How are you getting people interested in champagne again? He answered every question with the same warm smile and quick wit, and his passion for the grapes was evident.
The convivial afternoon was just like having lunch with a small group of friends, despite not knowing anyone else there. Of course, as the champagne had its way, we were all great pals by the end.