Fad or Future

Wine critics are tipping a move away from prosecco – but how could this affect food?

The last couple of years have seen Italy’s signature sparkling wine flavour everything from crisps and chocolate eggs to jam, but is the bubbly tide turning?

10 May 2019

Boozy food was a trend flagged by Food Spark a few years ago – mainly driven by Brits’ obsession with prosecco. So, is it time for other sparkling wines to muscle in on this area?

Some are claiming the UK is moving on from its passion for prosecco, turning instead to other sparkling products like cremant and cava – which, unlike prosecco, are made using the same techniques as champagne.

To cash in on this trend, winemaker Freixenet has partnered with Mother Clucker to create what it is claiming is the UK’s first-ever cava-battered chicken.

Unsurprisingly, Freixenet claims cava is an excellent pairing alongside savoury food, and the company has decided to put its money where its mouth is by combining its Cordon Negro with street food fave Mother Clucker’s fried chicken.

The cava has notes of Mediterranean fruits to keep the palate crisp and clean, while the acidity in the bubbles slices through the batter, making the meal feel lighter, according the winemaker. The result is a crispy cava-infused batter, which complements the salty and deep-fried flavour of Mother Clucker’s strips. (It’s even been suggested that the new food combo is an upgrade on the traditional beer-battered fish and chips.)

Available exclusively through Deliveroo Editions throughout May, every purchase even comes with a complimentary 20cl bottle of Freixenet Cordon Negro. Trying the promotion back to Mother Clucker’s restaurant, the sparkling beverage will also be available to purchase as part of a combination meal in Clerkenwell.

Another mixed-up mash-up?

Deliveroo is also peddling another curious combo: a samosa/onion bhaji hybrid dubbed the Samhaji, created by Indian fast-casual group Rola Wola, who are in the process of trying to trademark the recipe.

According to Deliveroo, which helped launch the Samhaji exclusively in April, samosas and bhajis are the two most ordered appetisers in the UK. The product consists of crispy onions, chilli, turmeric and lamb parcelled in classic samosa pastry. There’s a vegan version, too, made from lentils, beetroot and a secret seven-spice masala.

But back to that cava-coated chicken – does Sparkie think it’s a bird-brained idea or a trend waiting to bubble over? And what about a side of Samhaji?


Sparkie says:

The cava-coated chicken feels a little difficult to imagine. A higher proof alcohol within a batter mix will potentially make for a crunchier batter, which could be good, but the flavours that a wine leaves behind would be acidic. If those acidic flavours stand out, I think that would take away from it. Either way it is going to come down to taste. It’s obviously going to be more expensive to do this, so it would really have to make a significant impact on the palate.

I think the Samhaji will firmly fall into the fad category. I would be surprised if the patent talk is anything more than a way to get noticed because that process is incredibly expensive and especially difficult for something like a recipe. By having it, I can’t see them making back the cost in the time the patent would be in place unless they were mass produced for retail. I would try the product out of curiosity but I think both products benefit from the flavour/texture frying provides and the bhaji mix can’t get that inside the pastry. So, it's likely just a fad, but the method of getting media attention is interesting.

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