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PAIRED – Champagne & Sparkling WinesBy Fran Flynn & David Stevens-Castro

  • Writers Digest Book Awards – First Place – Reference Category
  • Gourmand World Cook Book Awards – A ‘Best in the World’ award – Food & Wine Matching category
  • Foreword Reviews – Finalist – Cookbook of the Year
  • Australian Wine Communicator of the Year Awards – Finalist – Best Wine Book of the year

    These awards followed on from winning ‘Best in Australia’ in two categories of the Gourmand regional awards for ‘Food & Wine Pairing’ and ‘French Wine’ earlier in the year


Food and wine pairing can be easy! All you need are taste buds and a sense of adventure.

This beautifully presented, full colour recipe book will encourage and support you to experience the pleasure of food and wine pairing for yourself. The first volume showcases sparkling wines of all styles, and challenges usual perceptions by offering sparkling wines with tantalising home-cooked recipes for all courses of a meal, not just with finger food.

The delicious recipes, presented by husband-and-wife team wine expert David Stevens-Castro and food photographer Fran Flynn create a foundation to apply your new pairing skills with confidence. Leave your comfort zone behind, try the unexpected, and bask in discoveries that your taste buds will be forever grateful for.

Renowned award-winning wine expert Tyson Stezler contributes a foreword and discusses the current trends in champagne and sparkling wine consumption.

Aimed at anyone with an interest in food and wine, this book uses a light-hearted and accessible style of language, plus full-colour illustrations to guide you on the right path to understanding food and wine pairings for yourself, with the added benefit of demystifying terminology and explaining wine labelling.

Seven chapters each showcase a style of sparkling wine, present a visual synopsis of the country of origin, supply complimentary cheese ideas, and several recipes that will pair with the topical variety. Every recipe illustrated with full colour photographs is introduced by Fran, while David narrates some pairing suggestions.

Common misconceptions about wine are dispelled, a broad range of dishes suitable for sharing and entertaining are presented, and suggestions on how you can introduce your friends to the wonderful world of food and wine are also provided.

Note: All measurements appear in both imperial and metric format throughout the book.

Guest Post

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 with some new ideas that will surprise
your guests and open the door to new discoveries that your tastebuds will be
forever grateful for.

Did you know that:

While true champagne (i.e. produced in the
Champagne region of France) is usually at least $50/bottle, 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. 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

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 our recipe for lamb cutlets. (link here)

Italy also produces a lot of sparkling red, the
best known of which is lambrusco. Lambrusco suffers from a bit of a bad name as
a cheap, sweet and even unappealing beverage, however, quality lambrusco does
exist. Dry (secco in Italian) examples are available also.

In general dry (brut/extra brut in French) sparkling
wines tend to match very nicely with oily, nutty and egg-based dishes.
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.

Moscato is a low-alcohol sweet, often pink,
sparkling wine.
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!).


If you would like to learn more, check out PAIRED:
Champagne & Sparkling Wines – The food and wine matching recipe book for
by David Stevens-Castro and Fran Flynn. The book is available from (link

Stuffed Mushrooms

with ricotta & sun-dried tomatoes

Large juicy portabello mushrooms stuffed
with lush, creamy ricotta cheese, paired with a light, fresh prosecco – it’s an
easy and very pleasurable combination. This dish even sports the colours of
Italy, as well as a sense of Italian flavours. It’s also an ideal share dish
and surprisingly rich too. Usually one large mushroom per person is enough for
a satisfying starter.


Suggested match Dry non-vintage prosecco ideally from
Veneto, Italy

Pairing style /


This is a classic example of ‘what grows together goes
together’ with the Italian influence of the dish matching nicely with the
Italian wine. A light easy-drinking non-vintage prosecco beautifully cleanses
the palate after the richness of the ricotta. The potentially strong flavours
of the onion, sun-dried tomato and parmesan are pleasantly restrained by the
acidity of the wine.


(7oz) ricotta cheese,

preferably fresh and full-fat

(1¾oz) sun-dried tomatoes,

finely chopped

tablespoon fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

large portabello mushrooms 

small red onion, finely diced

garlic clove, peeled

and minced


coarsely grated

& pepper


Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F. Mix ricotta,
sun-dried tomatoes and finely chopped parsley in a bowl and put to one side.

Remove the stems of the mushrooms and
finely chop. Gently fry with onion and garlic until just softened. Allow to
cool slightly and then add to ricotta blend and mix fully.

Re-grease the same pan with a little bit of
oil, to seal the mushrooms. Put on a high heat, add a few drops of water and
place a large saucepan lid propped at an angle over the mushrooms to increase
humidity and prevent drying while frying. Fry for about a minute each side.

Once sealed, place mushrooms in an oven
dish on a layer of baking paper and heap with ricotta mix, until all mushrooms
have a dome of the ricotta blend on top. Sprinkle with some parmesan.

Bake for 20–25 minutes or until tender. Transfer to a
wire tray and top with some freshly chopped parsley, salt and pepper and a
little bit more parmesan. Serve immediately.



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