Away from the glitz of Paris, resting on the mineral-rich soils of northeast France’s Champagne-Ardenne region, lies the quiet town of Épernay.
There, for those versed in the art of vin, the names of the champagne houses lining Champagne Avenue are iconic: Moët & Chandon, Mercier, and Perrier-Jouët — over 100 kilometers of old-world facades, in stately procession. This avenue, a dream to stroll down, is the holy grail of the effervescent libation, and beneath your feet is where the real magic is at work. Old underground chalk mines have become champagne cellars that cocoon thousands of bottles of the magical liquid as it slowly ferments to maturity in a fascinating process that got its roots here centuries back.
Champagne’s journey began around 2,000 years ago, when the Romans first planted grapes in the region, christening it ‘Campagnia.’ They intended to create a flat wine, but because of the cold winters there, the wine didn’t fully ferment before it was bottled. Come spring, it began its fermentation again inside the bottle.
The fragile bottles frequently exploded during fermentation, and the surviving bottles were found unintentionally bubbly. While the French sought to remove the bubbles, the Brits took to the sparkling version, discovering a way to produce it deliberately, and the French nobility soon followed.
The “wine of kings, the king of wines,” in the words of Guy de Maupassant, spread in popularity, starting at the Versailles and peaking during Louis XIV’s reign. Rumor has it that the king first tasted champagne as a teenager at his coronation, and enjoyed it so much he rarely drank anything else for the rest of his life.
Today, authentic French champagne retains its royal reputation. While delightful in a glass, it also shines in culinary adaptations such as delicate champagne jam. Lightly sweet, it is typically served as an accompaniment to foie gras; here, we paired it simply with crusty bread, goat cheese, and salty caviar for a bright and savory flavor burst.
Champagne Jam Toast
Cut baguette into thin slices. Spread slices with your choice of toppings: caviar, fig marmalade, goat cheese, mashed roasted asparagus — then top with champagne jam.
Serve alongside a champagne apéritif.
or more info on Champagne Jam, please visit e-gastronomie.com * This article not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Story by Kate Missine
Original recipe by Gaelle Didillion
Translated by Zhao Wen
Food styling and photography by Gaelle Didillion and Jie Freishter