I was once told of the pairing powers of Champagne and its affinity for fried foods. I felt that I could not just let that statement float in the ether without it being confirmed so I orchestrated a tasting around the end of the month, inviting some close friends to join me at my parents’ house for a fun pairing of grower Champagne with fried chicken from Roscoe’s Chicken ‘n Waffles in Long Beach, to conduct a first-hand experiment on the two. No pairing would be complete without dessert and I thought I would continue with the French theme by marrying the waffles with a Sauterne.

On the menu for the festivities were a couple bottles of grower Champagne; the first of the evening being a NV José Dhondt Blanc de Blancs Champagne (#402) from Oger and the second bottle was NV Chartogne-Taillet “Sainte Anne” Champagne (#401) to be paired with the fried chicken. We would hold off on the waffles, even though the two are meant to be eaten together, and enjoy them with a bottle of 2005 Château d’ Arche Sauterne (#400).

The event began around 4 p.m. and everyone arrived shortly thereafter where we proceeded to Roscoe’s for our respective orders of chicken and waffles to go. Most diners ordered white meat; I changed it up by ordering an extra buckwheat waffle and mostly dark meat.

We waited about twenty minutes for our orders, my buckwheat waffle delayed things unnecessarily, but after we had food in hand it was only a few minutes later before we transferred the fried birds from their to-go packages to our plates.

Uncorking the José Dhondt, we performed a group sniff by raising the flutes to our noses and were excited by the amount of concentrated apple in the bouquet. On the palate the wine had a lot more green apples and a sprits of fresh squeezed lemon, teeming with bright acidity and good weight on the palate it paired well with the chicken and curtailed the lingering affects of the hot sauce that a few of us doused our chicken with.

The Dhondt was quickly becoming a transformative experience, everybody’s previous high of tasting his or her favorite Veuve Clicqout or other Champagne moment was far being surpassed.

It was onto the Chartogne-Taillet for the second bout of chicken and Champagne. The Chartogne-Taillet was more varied in fragrance and quickly assumed its role of talk of the table. With notes of raisins tucked inside a strudel, baked apples and a little bit of earth, on its own it did not mesh with a lot of palates at the table but when added to the crispy fried chicken the wine gracefully supported the weight. With regards to the fried chicken it possibly outperformed the José Dhondt.

Saving room for dessert, I began to pour the contents of the Sauterne around the table; it would be the first time for all the people at the event to try the honey-hued beverage. What I like so much about this style of dessert wine is that it retains a high amount of acidity, mixed with great residual sugars and has lower alcohol than Port or Sherry because it has not been fortified—less sleepy as a result. It is always coupled with sumptuous aromatics and lushly covers the surface area of my mouth.

After the first bite of waffle I quickly sipped the Sauterne and was shocked that it enhanced the sweetness, not taking anything away from the “maple syrup.” There was a little more oak than I remembered in this wine but primarily orange peel and peach notes, it was refreshing, delicious and a dessert in its own right.

Pairing the indie Champagne producers with the fried chicken and Sauterne with waffles was quite an amazing way to punctuate 100 wines in my Countdown-to-500. We continued the night by watching Swingers first and the apposite film Julie and Julia—all about a blogger and her 500 plus recipes in 365 days, I could not help but turn red at the thought of the parallels—later. If this is any sign of things to come then I am seriously looking forward to my next centurion mark.  À votre santé mes amis.