What is the concept behind Bubbledogs?
My husband (chef James Knappett) and I wanted to create a champagne bar that was down-to-earth and unpretentious, promoting grower champagnes (grown and bottled by a single estate, using their own vines). We introduced hot dogs not only because they go well with the acidity of champagne, but because they also make the overall concept more accessible and easy-going.
How did you become interested in wine?
I’ve always been interested in the restaurant business, and through that, wine is something you naturally need to learn. I love learning about wine because the knowledge is endless and forever changing.
How do sparkling wines compare with champagne?
I think there are some amazing sparkling wines that are better than some champagnes and vice versa. Just because it’s from Champagne doesn’t automatically make it better than other sparkling wines. I've tasted some amazing cavas and crémant: a vintage cava, Recaredo 2007 Brut Nature, and Raventos i Blanc de Nit rosé 2010, which we serve by the glass.
What trends are emerging at your restaurant?
Brut Nature seems to be the trend now, or at least people are more willing to try it. I think people’s palates are going for more purity generally, you can see it in the cuisine, too - there’s less fuss and more focus on pure flavours and ingredients.
Are people wanting to be more informed about their drinking choices?
Absolutely, especially with wine. We spend a lot of time with our customers discussing different options on the menu. We want them to have a good time, but we also want them to leave having tasted something new and interesting.
What are some of the best and unusual food pairings for sparkling wine?
The best match, in my opinion, is French fries. Anything that’s salty, oily and rich is a great combination. Foods like lardo, charcuterie, soft cheeses and anything fried. I even love a bag of prawn cocktail crisps with champagne. Acidity is a great friend for fattier foods.
What is your favourite recent wine discovery or obsession?
The wines from Jura and Savoie in France. Because I wanted to learn more about the regions, I naturally became obsessed. It's how I learn best: complete immersion, one subject at a time.
Based on the wine list, what is your favourite London restaurant?
Andrew Edmunds in Soho (www.andrewedmunds.com). This bistro has been around for over 20 years. The food is always great and comforting, never fussy and the atmosphere warm and homely. The wine list is full of gems. I always order a glass of sherry to start, a bottle of white and a bottle of red to pair with the starter, main and finishing off with a cheese course. I love the seasonality of the food and the constantly changing menu.
Your favourite London bar for wine choices?
Mission in Paradise Row (www.missione2.com). The wine list is very unusual and you won’t find your normal options. The prices are great value, too.
TOP FIVE: champagnes/sparkling wines to try
1. Bérèche et Fils Brut Réserve (£42, www.thewinesociety.com)
2. Chartogne-Taillet Sainte Anne Brut (£25, www.thewinesociety.com)
3. Savart L'Ouverture Brut (£32.95, www.robersonwine.com)
4. Jérôme Prévost La Closerie Les Béguines Extra Brut (£44, www.vinetrail.co.uk)
5. Cédric Bouchard Roses de Jeanne "La Haute-Lemblee" Celles-sur-Ource (£65, from mid-July at www.bbr.com)
The best glass for serving fizz?
A Zalto white wine glass (£27.50, www.eurocave.co.uk). They're beautiful glasses and the size and shape of the white wine glass is just perfect for champagne. It’s bigger than a flute to allow more air but not too big to disrupt the bubbles.