By Carl Hanson

Champagne. It's not just for toasting anymore.

Truth is, sparkling wine loves food. Its acidity keeps the wine fresh and lively and the palate on alert. The lowish alcohol won't typically overwhelm food. It's always a great choice with appetizers. And sparkling wine does brunch better than any other booze. (Looking at you, Bloody Mary.) It's also terrific with a wide variety of main dishes.

So let these recipes be your big, bubbly guide to drinking Champagne any ol' time -- for brunch, lunch, dinner, and all manner of snacking in between. Pop the top, and have at 'em!

But first, a word about words. Champagne is a legally protected name. Technically speaking, Champagne refers only to sparkling wine from the Champagne region of France. Bubbles from anyplace else, we're supposed to call "sparkling wine." Certainly we've assured our attorney, Blanche Mirepoix, that we would never use the terms interchangeably, and we thank you for your understanding.

The Best Foods to Pair with Champagne

1. Potato Chips

Champagne has a little secret. Yes, it's the toast of the town and hangs in high society, but from time to time it's not afraid to go a little low-brow. OK, expensive Champagne might be a little chichi for this match-up (and many others below as well). For cheaper French bubbles, look for wine labeled crémant. From Italy, inexpensive prosecco is a smart choice. Spain offers cava -- a good deal. And in the United States, sparkling wines come from California, Oregon, Washington, New York, and even from less well-known places like New Mexico. Bonus: You can make these potato chips in the microwave.

Photo by Tricia

2. Smoked Salmon Sushi Roll

Sparkling wine and sushi, it's an epic move. The wine can handle the soy sauce, the slightly vinegary rice, even the pickled ginger and wasabi. No problems, only opportunities.

Photo by jocemalyn

3. Coconut Shrimp I

Leave the beer for the batter; drink bubbles with these crispy treats. See also, Crispy Fish, Popcorn Shrimp, and Fish Tacos.

Photo by DIZ9829

4. Chef John's BLT Pasta

Champagne and bacon, believe it. A straight-up BLT sandwich would also be great with sparkling wine. The same holds for anything wrapped in bacon and served as an appetizer.

Photo by Allrecipes Magazine

5. Movie Star Popcorn

So you're sitting on the sofa, cramming popcorn into your face, watching trashy TV in your sweatpants. That's cool. Sipping Champagne keeps it classy. Sparkling wine never tattles.

Photo by House of Aqua

6. Chef John's Crab Cakes

Chef John puts it like this: "These are what crab cakes are supposed to be -- basically a fried lump of crabmeat, held together with a minimum of filler. Delicious!" And doubly delicious beside a glass of bubbles.

7. Quick Cheddar Garlic Biscuits

Champagne is often described as having biscuit flavors and smells. You know what else has biscuit flavors and smells? Biscuits. Spread a little butter on your biscuit if you like. Also recommended, the Breakfast Biscuit.

Photo by semiwm2010

8. Chicken Fried Chicken

Fried chicken and sparkling wine, they're kind of a quiet classic, a forbidden romance. And those biscuits above might be nice on the side. For brunch, try Chicken and Waffles.

Photo by Jessica

9. Easy Bacon and Cheese Quiche

The eggs, the bacon, the cheese. This brunch classic demands some bubble time. Don't deny it.

Photo by TM

10. Chef John's French Fries

No way around it, sparkling wine loves the fried stuff. Here, the bubbles will tap dance across the tongue, playing to the textural brilliance (soft inside, crispy outside) of these twice-fried fries.

Photo by Baking Nana

11. Old Charleston Style Shrimp and Grits

Sparkling wine loves and respects shellfish. But add some cheesy grits, and it's like marriage proposal time. See also, Baked Scampi.

Photo by naples34102

12. Southwestern Egg Rolls

A taste of Asia by way of the American Southwest. Pair it with some European bubbles, and you have 3 continents covered. Also recommended, Chicken Flautas.

Photo by Aja

13. Di's Delicious Deluxe Deviled Eggs

Eggs in general say yes to bubbles. And deviled eggs are particularly welcoming. There's just no reason to say no.

14. Seared Scallops with Jalapeno Vinaigrette

The prep takes 5 minutes, the cooking 10 minutes. Dinner's ready in about the time it takes to open a bottle of bubbles.

Photo by Kim's Cooking Now

15. Sukhothai Pad Thai

Make this recipe with chicken, tofu, pork, or shrimp...no matter which way you go, the bubbles will love it. See also, more Thai recipes.

Photo by Allrecipes Magazine

16. Indian-Spiced Roasted Chickpeas

Crispy, crunchy, a little spicy...sparkling wine wants a piece of this action. See also, Pad Thai Popcorn.

Photo by Scotdog

17. Pot Stickers (Chinese Dumplings)

Champagne with dim sum is epic. You might try sparkling rosé with these particular pot stickers; they're stuffed with ground beef and shrimp.

Photo by marljong

18. Strawberry Torte

Strawberries and sparkling wine are, of course, a famous combo. Add lady fingers and whipped cream...and you've just plain blown the doors off this whole pairing thing.

Photo by jillcasey84

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