Cheers! It’s a champagne dinner

- Paula C. Nocon () - November 13, 2002 - 12:00am
The French gastronome Anthelme Brillat-Savarin once said, "A meal without wine is like a day without sunshine," and the food-and-wine-loving French, as we know, would all seem to agree.

But what about a meal without champagne?

Though traditionally known as a celebratory drink more than as an accompaniment to food, champagne can indeed bring sunshine to any banquet. Some would even say that this wine of all wines is the smoothest white wine one can drink with food.

Thus, the champagne dinner.

A unique and luxurious departure from the usual red or white wine-accompanied feasts, the House of Champagne Deutz (pronounced doots) and the Peninsula Manila Hotel recently co-hosted an exquisite champagne dinner of five courses and three champagnes. Pen executive chef Gordon Landy and Old Manila’s chef de cuisine Nicolas Deviche concocted the perfect dishes to go with Deutz’s three prize-winning selections: the Blanc de Blanc 1996, the Deutz Peninsula NV and the Cuvee William Deutz 1995.

The Peninsula Manila and Deutz export director Jean-Marc Lallier-Deutz transported their guides to a bygone era under Old Manila’s soft lighting, amid red and white roses, and through a rainbow of flavors that emerged from a marriage of fine food and fine champagne.

Throughout the evening, Monsieur Lallier, direct descendant of founder William Deutz, regaled the party with proud anecdotes on his family’s wine-making past, since the House of Deutz’s inception at Aÿ, Champagne, France, in 1838, to its present status as the champagne of choice by those "in the know." Through wars, financial woes, riots, the Great Depression, and the German occupation, the House has stood proud and strong over its 150-year history, quietly producing wines that consistently rank in the world’s top 100.

Deutz Blanc de Blanc 1996 accompanied the appetizer: smoked foie gras, lobster and new potato salad with hazelnut vinaigrette. This seductive champagne is considered an ideal aperitif, perfect to start a meal – it is bright gold with a greenish tinge, with an aroma of fruit and flowers.

Though perfectly balanced, the wine has a clearly defined character, and is crisp and suave at the same time.

This was followed by the soup, creamy bouillon of coco beans scented with truffles and chanterelle mushrooms. All were heady with the aroma of the truffles, considered "black gold" by many, as they tipped their bowls almost simultaneously to get to the very last drop!

The next champagne, the light and fruity Deutz Peninsula house champagne, was served with open seafood ravioli with sea urchin foam. This wine is a collaboration between Deutz with the prestigious Peninsula group, whereby the eight Peninsula hotels all around the world have carried the Deutz non-vintage champagne under the Pen label for the past seven years.

Finally, the most awaited main course: roast veal tenderloin with parsley linguini, sweet bread and artichoke fricassee, culminated with Cuvee William Deutz 1995. This champagne is served with only the most refined of dishes – the palate is tender, with a soft, velvety texture and a bright, golden color with plentiful fine bubbles. It was a joy to watch all the diners dip their noses into their champagne flutes, sip the wine carefully, and break into smiles of discreet satisfaction. Jean-Marc looked very pleased.

As a fitting end to the evening, upon the visit of chefs Landy and DeViche and over dessert of star anis mousse with raspberry poached pear, the entire party burst into hearty applause.

The evening was indeed a celebration of Deutz, of Peninsula, of the joy of eating and drinking well – that brought out high spirits and only the very best bubbly. In this sense, perhaps, every fine meal is a celebration worthy of a fine celebratory champagne.
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