Coupe Champagne Bar pours champagne bottles in Wappingers Falls
Photos courtesy of Vanessa Goodwin
This charming village wine bar makes champagne accessible through fun pairings with food from producers in the Hudson Valley.
Who says enjoying champagne has to be arrogant? People generally reserve sparkling white wine for special occasions like weddings, promotions, and other major life events. However, Vanessa Goodwin, sommelier and owner of the Coupe Champagne Bar in Wappingers Falls, believes every moment deserves a toast.
“I like champagne. It’s one of the things that is such a fun part of our industry… especially when you really get down to it, ”Goodwin enthuses. “It builds that trust among people, when people come together to ‘blow bottles’. Champagne culture is strong.
Goodwin opened the Coupe Champagne Bar in Dutchess County in mid-summer 2021. The colorful and cozy hangout has an extensive wine list and a hole in the wall for pizza orders (it comes from Wagon Wheel Pizza). Coupe’s decor consists of elaborate wallpapers, neon signs, and repurposed furniture. For example, Goodwin transformed a historic church pew into a comfortable sofa. The vibrant patterns and styles have been arranged with “a maiden’s room” in mind, according to Goodwin. When people walk through the doors they are greeted with a bright but relaxed environment and an extremely gracious host.
Coupe Champagne Bar is conveniently located on Main Street in the village of Wappingers Falls. This corner space previously housed The Vinyl Room, a record-themed bar that has since moved to Beacon. Plus, Goodwin started her wine journey where she ended up in Wappingers Falls. Goodwin worked at Italian restaurant Aroma Osteria just over a decade ago, just minutes from where Coupe is now. As a result, she learned a lot about European wines and how to accompany them with food. However, it wasn’t until after a road trip to Canada that it all happened.
“We’re driving all the way to Montreal and of course we’re exhausted. We pulled up to the border, mostly wearing sweatpants, and decide to eat at the next place we see. We’re starving, ”Goodwin recalls. However, the restaurant they stumble upon has a fleet of luxury cars in its parking lot. Each guest was dressed to perfection. Goodwin and his crew, extremely poorly dressed, were seated at the back of the restaurant, out of sight. A sommelier approached the table with a surprising abundance of hospitality.
“He just brought us this bottle and it was simply incredible… Cabernet Sauvignon with a steak, a ‘cab and slice’ as they say in the company. The guy treated us like gold, ”Goodwin notes. “Then he showed me around a wine cellar and told me about his job. Above all, it was the first exhibition I have ever had with a sommelier. I thought, ‘Does this person only take care of the wine? This must be my job.
In no time at all, Goodwin became obsessed with a new dream. Ideally, the next scheduled sommelier exam would take place at the Culinary Institute of America. Goodwin took this opportunity and signed up. It was a stroke of fate, as these exams can be scheduled anywhere in the world. However, that left him just under three months to prepare – a “death wish” for the candidates. From 2 a.m. to 8 a.m., she studied fervently. She fueled her preparations with flash cards, online videos and everything in between. Not only did she pass, but a few months later she passed her level two certification.
“So, in the meantime, I decided to focus on champagne,” says Goodwin. When you really get into winegrower’s champagne – which probably represents 95 percent of the industry in France, but five percent of the industry here – you find producers who are just a father, a mother, a son and daughter working the vines. They have their own small plot of land and can produce less than 2,000 bottles per year. That’s what makes it so special, and wine can be truly amazing.
A champagne that she particularly enjoys sharing with customers uses a Spanish solera aging process. Essentially, the maker does not remove all of the wine from a barrel before aging a new batch of champagne. In other words, a bottle contains a bit of every champagne that the producer has ever made. Other winemakers and distributors that Goodwin works with put her in contact with extremely special wines in small batches, so her stock is always changing.
His passion is to showcase the unique terroirs of champagne, as well as to bring people into the world of bubbles. Part is to identify wines at an affordable price, and another is to teach people to associate champagne with food.
The crunchy, robust and flinty qualities of champagne allow harmonious pairings with junk food. And the people love junk food. Whether it’s buttery popcorn or an over-indulgent grilled cheese, French wine complements a whole range of flavors. Because Goodwin’s wine list is so versatile, she enjoys the challenge of pairing any dish you could think of.
“I just want people to have fun with it. I’m a very straightforward eater, but I want to push the boundaries with alcohol, ”she says.
Her fall brunch series brings a new accord every Sunday. So far, she’s paired tomatillo ramen with sake, lobster rolls with Chardonnay-based champagne, and Oktoberfest kids with semi-dry Reislings. She even struck a pair for funfetti waffles from her street neighbor Sweetbakes Cafe: French Sauternes, an ultra-sweet dessert wine. Other Hudson Valley collaborations include EatChurch in Cold Spring, as well as Sloop Brewing Co. in Easy Fishkill for “Burgers and Beaujolais”. (Follow Coupe Champagne Bar on social media for all kinds of events, from charcuterie workshops to crayfish porridge.)
Of course, the space’s built-in pizza window is perfect for mixing relaxed, oily goodness with wines too often reserved for delicate and elegant plates. Did you know that the slightly fresh Spanish Rioja is the perfect companion to a spicy pepperoni pizza? Goodwin also discovered that volatile acidity Pinots Noirs complement fatty and sour Hawaiian slices. Sausage pies are even better paired with a glass of Col Di Bacche, a Tuscan wine from Amerene with hints of cherries and herbs.
Finally, the Coupe champagne bar serves the classic slices of Wagon Wheel alongside a sparkling white called Crémant d’Alsace, in France.
“So Alsace has these mountains bordering Germany. If you’ve been skiing before, you can actually taste that crisp, cold air on wine. In addition, it is well aged and age on the lees. [a fermentation byproduct], which gives it that buttery and oily medium, ”explains Goodwin. “And, with just a slice of classic cheese, it’s this crazy blend of flavors.”
Goodwin’s friendly and fun vibe permeates the entire space. She found several chairs and tables from Coupe Champagne Bar just down the street in Ruinous Revived. All she did to revive the fire-damaged wall in the back room was seal it and cover it with fleur-de-lis, honoring the space and the businesses that once called it her home. Sleek, clean whites and vibrant vibrant pinks dominate the space. Coupe is not a fancy, pretentious wine bar. It is a place to relax with friends while discovering new flavors and combinations.
“It’s not just champagne, I happen to like it. We have a rotating list of exciting wines from across the country (and the world). I have a full liquor license, so next year I will be bringing a full menu of champagne cocktails.
Comfort is extremely important. When trying new things, people can easily be intimidated. Goodwin recognizes that champagne can seem out of reach to people and feels at the height of his powers with a customer who is unsure of what he likes. She is here to help people discover something they are going to love.
“When you have a good couple, you’ll think about it forever. I’m going to kind of have a quick chat with the customers that come here and get some keywords out of it. Then I take what they say and translate it using my upbringing in the bottle that best suits them instead.
Above all, she wants to share her passion for champagne – and other incredible wines – with the Hudson Valley foodie community. Let loose with a glass of champagne and turn any night into an occasion to celebrate. Plus, with an open mind, you might even discover something you like.
Champagne Bar Coupe
2656 E Main St, Wappingers Falls
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