If you only think of Champagne on special occasions, then AJ Ojeda-Pons is celebrating most days of the year.
“For the longest time, I had a motto: Drink Champagne every day,” says the sommelier, who mans the wine list at Geoffrey Zakarian’s The Lambs Club. “Champagne is not just a celebratory item, it’s really a very versatile wine.”
How versatile? Ojeda-Pons sips a glass of bubbly to start many of his meals, whether that’s a cheese plate with fruit, a burger or even a bowl of popcorn while watching TV. Though all Champagne is grown in one small region of France (anything else is sparkling wine), “there’s so many houses, there’s so many vintners, there’s so many styles of it, from very, very dry to very, very rich,” he explains. “There’s always something that I can find to drink.”
Besides bringing its own aroma and flavor, Ojeda-Pons describes Champagne’s effect as adding “an extra layer” that changes the texture and character of food.
While we ponder splashing a little New Year’s Eve on our Wednesday night usual (read: Szechuan chicken), Ojeda-Pons gave us some ideas about using Champagne to enhance Thanksgiving dinner.