The Bubbles Review

for people who love champagne and all things sparkling!

Category: Bubbles Blog (Page 3 of 3)

Tagliatelle Marinara with cream sauce & chives

Bubbles are great to toast a special occasion and also pre-dinner drinks, but what about continuing with the main course? Because we love champagne and all things sparkling we asked our friends David Stevens-Castro and Fran Flynn from Paired Media to share one of their pairing recipes with us.

[Note: If you are gluten free/low carb, some substitutes to try would be home-made zucchini noodles, or try the Slendier Slim Pasta Fettuccine which are both vegetable based or look for a nice gluten free pasta option.]

This is a beautiful luxurious delicate pasta dish that won’t leave you feeling over full. It’s also surprisingly easy to make and presents very impressively. It’s important to keep the sauce of this recipe light and creamy in texture, so that it doesn’t overwhelm the wine. The tagliatelle is effective at holding the sauce and wrapping it around the seafood as you eat and spaghetti is an excellent alternative. Many fish shops sell a pre-prepared marinara mix. For freshness of flavour the fish should be bought the same day as you intend to cook.


Suggested match NV New World sparkling, ideally a fresh young wine.

Pairing style / cleansing

A fresh, citric New World sparkling wine (ie from Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand and the US) will meld beautifully with the pasta flavours. The chives and spring onion create the link between the pasta and the wine, adding a fresh touch to the creaminess of the dish.

Prep 15 min

Cook 10 min

Serves 4


1 packet fresh tagliatelle pasta

2 heaped tablespoons of butter

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

3 spring onions (scallions), chopped

1/2 cup (125ml/4fl oz) dry white wine

200ml (7fl oz) cream

125g (4.5oz) double cream brie, chopped

1½ heaped tablespoons seeded mustard

400g (14oz) seafood marinara mix

bunch fresh chives, chopped


Boil the tagliatelle as per packet’s instructions and set to one side.

Over a high heat melt the butter and add the garlic. Once it starts to sizzle add the spring onions. Reduce heat slightly and stir regularly for about a minute. Add wine and allow to simmer for about 3–4 minutes until the liquid reduces by about a third. Add cream, brie and mustard. Continue to simmer and stir until all the cheese is dissolved.

Introduce the seafood and cook for a further 3–5 minutes, stirring continuously, until the seafood is ready to serve. Taste test to check that the seafood is tender.

Transfer to a large serving bowl and sprinkle liberally with fresh chives. In a colander, refresh the tagliatelle by pouring some hot water over it and shake out any excess water. Plate the tagliatelle and use a ladle to spoon the seafood and sauce on top. Garnish with a final sprinkle of chives.


paired-champagne-and-sparkling-winesRecipe is taken from the multi award winning – PAIRED – Champagne & Sparkling Wines – The food and wine matching recipe book. Written by David Stevens-Castro and Fran Flynn. You can see more of their tips for matching Champagne and Sparkling in our blog – Make every meal sparkle or check out their website – http://www.paired-media.com

Like to keep following us? Sign up to The Bubbles Review list and you will be included in our monthly Subscriber prize draw. In December our giveaway includes a chance to win a copy of the lovely PAIRED – Champagne & Sparkling Wines – The food and wine matching recipe book – Join our list!


Make every meal sparkle

There is a popular misconception that champagne and sparkling wines are only useful for raising a toast or washing down the canapés at a wedding. This couldn’t be further from the truth. With Christmas and New Years Eve just around the corner it’s time to start experimenting, so we asked our friends Fran Flynn and David Stevens-Castro to share some new ideas to surprise your guests and open the door to new discoveries that your tastebuds will be forever grateful for.

Here are some tips on matching bubbles with your food choice:

While true champagne (i.e. produced in the Champagne region of France) is usually around $50/bottle or more, there are other delicious bubbles that come at a lower premium. Having said that, it is still worthwhile buying the best that your budget can afford, unless you have a hot tip for a cheap steal. Or if not champagne you could choose a nice sparkling produced elsewhere.

French sparkling wine with ‘cremant’ on the label is a creamy style of sparkling wine also produced in France. It is produced with similar methodology to champagne but the grapes come from other regions of France. Cava is the name given to sparkling wine produced predominantly in Northern Spain. It is created using native Spanish grapes that usually present a slightly fruitier style to champagne.

In general dry (brut/extra brut in French) sparkling wines tend to match very nicely with oily, nutty and egg-based dishes. Seafood is also a pretty safe bet — and the perfect match for Christmas day prawns. Chicken can work too, but make sure you take into consideration any sauce that accompanies the dish, e.g. something tomato-based is a no-no, however, light creaminess can still enhance nicely.

See the pairing recipe here for Tagliatelle Marinara with cream sauce and chives

There are red varieties of sparkling wine and some can go beautifully with a meaty meal such as duck or lamb. Australia actually produces the largest proportion of available sparkling shiraz. Young examples are usually refreshing, rich, fruity and juicy with a touch of sweetness. Older examples are typically rich and lush in style, and some high quality bottles are suitable for cellaring and aging. Sparkling red offers a surprising texture on the palate and a sparkling shiraz can be a real conversation starter among virgin tasters. For a new angle to the barbie this Christmas, try some sparkling shiraz with your meal.

Moscato is a low-alcohol sweet, often pink, sparkling wine. It generally has an aroma of Turkish delight and is a delightful daytime tipple for holiday time. It is a beautiful accompaniment to an afternoon of high tea with delicate sweet treats or even your Christmas pavlova.

Sparkling rosé can often be mistaken for a sweet wine due to its pink colour but, in fact, it is usually dry in style and very versatile when it comes to matching food. It has a particular affinity with charcuterie (cured and smoked meats), duck, salads, shellfish, berries and chocolate — and even pork! Again, this is particularly enjoyable on a sunny summer’s day.

So put your preconceived notions to one side, take a step out of your comfort zone, offer your guests something new and bask in discoveries that will surprise and delight your palate (not to mention increase your street cred!).


Written by Fran Flynn & David Stevens-Castro paired-champagne-and-sparkling-winesDavid Stevens-Castro is a highly regarded wine expert. He has a degree in Agricultural Science, specialising in fruit and wine production, and extensive experience as a sommelier. Fran Flynn is an award-winning commercial photographer and graphic designer. Living together on the Gold Coast, in Australia, they have pooled their skills as a husband-and-wife team to publish a series of books and share their expertise in the things they love. Check out their multi award winning food and wine match book – PAIRED – Champagne & Sparkling Wines – The food and wine matching recipe book for everyone at their website – www.paired-media.com

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Why that is not a glass of Champagne that you are drinking!

The answer is simple: it may have bubbles, but does it say Champagne on the bottle? If not, it is a sparkling wine – or referred to as bubbles is fine too.

In order to be called champagne, a sparkling wine must come from the Champagne region of France, can only be made using certain grapes, (the most commonly used are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier) and must be made using the traditional method ‘methode champenoise’ (also referred to as ‘methode traditionelle’), in which secondary fermentation (to create the bubbles) occurs in the bottle.

To clarify, all champagne is sparkling wine, but not all sparkling wine is champagne.

Champagnes can be expensive, while sparkling wine is often much more affordable. This comes down to the grape quality as well as the methods used to produce the sparkling wine. While many sparkling wines do implement the labour intensive ‘methode traditionelle’, there are other production techniques used by creating tank wine – sparkling wine carbonated in giant vats instead of individual bottles.

Sparkling wine made using the same process as champagne will have ‘methode traditionelle’, or ‘bottle fermented’ on the label. If you like the champagne style, look for these when purchasing your sparkling wine.

Other names for sparkling wine that you might see are Cava (which comes from Spain), Prosecco (traditionally from Italy, but you might see Australian or US made Proseccos), and Moscato (a sweet style of sparkling from Italy which is also often made in Australia). We are also starting to see French sparkling from other wine regions of France sold in Australia, but due to strict regulations, only if it comes from Champagne can it be labelled as such.

Like our earlier blog on how to pronounce Moët, I feel I need to be specific. If it is not Champagne, it is a glass of bubbles or sparkling, or possibly a Cava or Prosecco, but it is not a Champers or Champagne. And yes bubbles does cover all, which is why we called ourselves The Bubbles Review!

We asked Dan Buckle, Senior Winemaker, from Chandon Australia to give us some detail on the differences between making champagne and making Australian sparkling wine.

Champagne sits among the broader category of sparkling wine, being specifically from Champagne. As such, Champagne wines are regulated by the rules of the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, which are quite prescriptive. Champagne wines are, by definition, restricted in terms of terroir, and whilst there are many fine details of Champenoise vineyard country, from a broader view we can say that the climate is cold, and the soils are chalky.

Elsewhere, sparkling wine is a very broad category, and includes a wide range of varieties, styles, flavours and, indeed, quality. Here in Australia, we have significant liberty to make wines where and how we like, with the main regulatory systems focused on label integrity and the limitations of wine additives. We also have much more land available to plant vineyards, and a far greater range of terroirs to draw from. This means our Chandon wines made here have a uniquely Australian signature, drawing from our unique Australian landscape. This is enviable for Old World winemakers, who are restricted in their scope by the structures of tradition and geography. At Chandon, we focus our production on traditional method, drawing from our French heritage and the savoir faire that comes from our strong connection to Champagne. Not for traditional reasons, rather for quality. We cannot replicate the important yeast aromas and textural benefits from long ageing in the bottle on lees.

The process differences are notable. We arechandon-australia-hd-bottle-shots-76-native-mhiswf110951-revision-1 not constrained to using the same cuvee and tailles juice fractions, which are mandatory in Champagne. We are able to use viticultural practices more suited to our local environment. We can even machine harvest in the cold of night, and we can even make sparkling Pinot noir/Shiraz! The pioneering spirit in Australian winemaking is still very much alive.

Dan Buckle is the Senior Winemaker at Chandon Australia.

domaine-chandon-tasting-barFrench heritage, Australian expertise – Chandon is a celebration of its traditional French heritage and the know-how enjoyed in its Australian homeland. Moët & Chandon meets Australia in a world-class winery in the Yarra Valley. Chandon was honoured with international success at the 2016 Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships, taking out the national trophy for Best Australian Sparkling Wine for the Chandon Prestige Cuvée 2005. It’s a beautiful place to visit and enjoy a tasting at the Cellar Door. Details here www.chandon.com.au/

Like to keep following us? Sign up to The Bubbles Review list and you will be included in our monthly Subscriber prize draw. The monthly giveaway is usually a chance to win a lovely champagne or sparkling gift. Join our list!


Tips for drinking Champagne on a budget

You’ve probably heard the saying ~ “Champagne taste on a beer budget.”?

Maybe your first taste of fine champagne was provided by a wealthy friend or by attending a corporate function where someone else was paying?  Once you’ve developed the taste for it, how can you create more opportunities for drinking quality bubbles on a budget?

If this is you, we have a few tips for you here.

  1. Check out the specials each week.

Check out the specials online each week, or browse the Champagne section of your favourite wine store to see what is on special. Get chatting with the staff; see what they recommend and what is good on price. Sometimes it can be a high quality champagne at a great price, but it is a brand we don’t know. I love these little discoveries! Also consider becoming a wine store member, they often alert you of current champagne specials, or have member only offers. I like to purchase some of my favourites when they are on special and keep them to have on hand for celebratory occasions.

  1. Ask for a Price Match

Many stores will do this and it is always worth asking the question. If you’ve seen it cheaper elsewhere but you are shopping at your local wine store and they are more expensive – ask if they will price match. You will probably need to show proof of the lower price, either printed or show the link on your phone.

  1. Find Free Tastings!

Many wine stores have bottles on tasting for you to sample whilst in store. If you become a member at your favourite wine stores, not only will they alert you to specials, they often have member only nights or will alert you when they have tastings.  This month I attended two FREE tastings hosted by Vintage Cellars.  One was one of my favourites – Louis Roederer – which included the beautiful Cristal (more than $300 per bottle). The other was a Free Champagne Gala evening which included around 15 top Champagne houses all with several different champagnes available for tasting. I felt like I was in heaven!

  1. Get together with a group of friends and share a bottle.

To me this is like the sharing economy for Champagne. I’ve recently started doing this by hosting ‘Bubbly Afternoons’ at my place. Get together with a group of friends, we choose a top bottle that we would like to try but couldn’t afford on our own. Then everyone contributes to the purchase. Groups of four can work well for everyone to have a nice glass with enough for a little top up too. Follow it up with some nice sparkling afterwards and you’ll have a lovely Bubbly Afternoon.

Another way would be to win a bottle! Sign up to our list and you will be included in our monthly Subscriber prize draw. The monthly giveaway is usually a bottle of a lovely champagne or sparkling wine. Join our list!



Natalie Pickett is the Founder of The Bubbles Review which is for people who like champagne and other bubbles, written by people who have a love of all things sparkling! At The Bubbles Review, we like to debunk some myths, make the art of drinking champagne accessible, explore bubbly regions and champagne bars, and provide events for you to join us and indulge.

How do I pronounce Moët?

Vintage photo of pouring champagne against holiday lights

If you come from a land downunder, it is very likely that you often hear this pronounced ‘Mo aye’. Add to that a little Aussie nasal twang, and you could become mistaken and think that the speaker is referring to a town in regional Victoria (Moe), rather than one of our favourite French Champagnes.

When I first started travelling, I packed my things into my little red car and moved from Melbourne to the Gold Coast. It was the late 80s, and Australia was just discovering international inbound tourism and the Gold Coast was being swamped by bus loads of Japanese visitors. New 5 star hotels were opening, first the Sheraton Mirage and then the Hyatt Regency Sanctuary Cove as part of the multi million dollar Sanctuary Cove development.  It was an exciting time! I joined the Hyatt as part of the opening team, and to this day I would say it was one of the best training programs that I have been through and was a great start for my transition from a career in banking into a career in tourism.

I learnt so much about food and wine, which included how to pronounce Moët.  Our wine expert explained that because the ‘t’ in Moët is followed by a vowel, in the full name  Moët et Chandon, in French this meant that it is a hard T.  Having studied French in high school, this also made sense to me, and this started my mission to explain to people how to pronounce Moët whenever I had the opportunity.  I’m not meaning to cause anyone embarrassment, but I feel it is necessary to let people know. It’s like when you have something stuck between your teeth, lipstick on your teeth, your dress tucked into your tights, or your tag hanging out of the back of your shirt.  I always feel like you would rather know, so that you can fix it rather than continue to go about your business causing ongoing potential embarrassment.  So yes, the pronunciation of Moët, for me, falls into the same category – I feel like I need to let you know.

So ingrained is the mispronunciation that I see people look at me when I do pronounce it ‘Mowett’ with a hard ‘t’. The look they give, the sympathy look, ‘Oh the poor thing, she doesn’t know how to pronounce it, it’s French you know’. These exchanges also add fire to my mission of getting the world of social champagne etiquette back on track, and lose any of the Aussie cultural cringe that I feel this ongoing mispronunciation might cause.

After years of explaining the reason for the hard ‘t’ was that it was followed by a vowel (which also meant that I tended towards saying the whole name Moët et Chandon just to be clear, and avoid that sympathy look), I was fortunate to be working as a tour guide in Europe, and on this particular itinerary a trip to Epernay, in the Champagne region of France was included, and so was a guided tour at Moët et Chandon. I asked the guide the question about pronunciation, including the theory I had learnt about the consonant followed by a vowel.  He very politely responded that yes, it was a hard ‘t’, but there was another reason for this.  Moët is actually a Dutch name, he said, ‘See the umlaut over the ‘ë’?’  Yes I did, and no that hadn’t occurred to me, but it did make sense as an umlaut is not used in French. So there you have it. I went to the winery itself to get the correct pronunciation – it is a hard T.

Moët is of course a French champagne, and was founded in 1743 by Claude Moët. He was descended from a family of winemakers established in the Champagne region since the fourteenth century. At the time it was founded as Moët et Cie (Moët & Co.), the word Chandon was added in 1832 after Pierre-Gabriel Chandon’s daughter married into the Moët family.

So say it loud, say it proud – Moët is pronounced ‘Mowett’. Help me share the word and share this story with your friends to help save any future embarrassment!

Side note: Since publishing this blog, many have commented that the accent ë is used in some French words and it is called a tréma. Eg. Noël. Thanks to all of those who have commented. The reason for the hard t, remains, that it is a Dutch name, therefore an umlaut, which is how it was explained to me on my tour.

Natalie Pickett is the Founder of The Bubbles Review which is for people who like champagne and other bubbles, written by people who have a love of all things sparkling! At The Bubbles Review, we like to debunk some myths, make the art of drinking champagne accessible, explore bubbly regions and champagne bars, and provide events for you to join us and indulge.

If you have a love of champagne, join our list to stay informed and receive exclusive offers.  By being a subscriber you will also be included in our monthly draw with a chance to win. The giveaway is usually a lovely bottle of champagne or sparkling. Join our list!

Bubbly News!

Welcome to The Bubbles Review!

Because life is too short not to drink good champagne!

“I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it—unless I’m thirsty.”

Lilly Bollinger, Champagne Royalty!

“I would prefer to live forever in perfect health, but if I must at some time leave this life, I would like to do so ensconced on a chaise longue, perfumed, wearing a velvet robe and pearl earrings, with a flute of champagne beside me and having just discovered the answer to the last problem in a British cryptic crossword.”

Olivia de Havilland, Actress

“In success you deserve it and in defeat, you need it,”

Winston Churchill

“Champagne is appropriate for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.”

Madeline Puckette, Co-Founder, WineFolly

“I have been researching this all of my life and it is my life’s work to understand this hypothesis – Is it really possible to have too much Champagne?”

Natalie Pickett, Founder, The Bubbles Review


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