French Wine and Food Pairings

Awaken Your Inner Sommelier

Here are some popular wine and food pairings featuring French food and wines. You can adapt the suggestions as you wish by pairing with an equivalent wine from a different country.

The study of wine and food pairings is a life long endeavor. Among their many tasks, a professional sommelier, or wine steward, studies these pairings and can recommend a wine to go with any food. In France only a gastronomic restaurant will have a sommelier as a permanent staff member. However, there are a growing number of sommeliers the world over and every year there are a number of prestigious competitions to decide who is the best amongst them.

Basic Food and Wine Pairings

If you don't have access to a sommelier, here are a few wine and food pairings to get you started. Nothing radical or daring here, just the common wisdom that a lot of people follow.
  • Soup - Lots of people say it's better just to skip the wine with the soup course. Since soup is already liquid, it can be hard to find a pleasing contrast with a wine. Perhaps a light red wine such as Beaujolais if you insist, or a dry white wine with a fish soup.
  • Salad dressed in vinaigrette - Once again, lots of experts say it is better just to skip the wine. The vinegar in the salad kills the taste of wine. This would be true of any dish with strong acidity.
  • Eggs - Eggs are considered tricky partners with wine. You'll find recommendations for a dry white wine such as a Muscadet or Riesling, but also for a light red, such as Beaujoulais. Guess you'll just have to try and decide for yourself.
  • Foie gras - Sauternes, which is a sweeter white wine is a classic pairing with foie gras. Champagne as well.
  • Seafood - Oysters with Muscadet or Riesling are a classic combination. Gewurztraminer or Sancerre go well with seafood too.
  • Smoked salmon as well as caviar - Riesling or Chablis. Or you could always just go with vodka. Our Russian friends assure us, however, that if you are going to drink vodka, stick to it for the whole meal.
  • Fish - Dry white wine such as Muscadet, Pouilly-Fumé, Riesling, or Sylvaner.
  • Savoyarde fondue - That's cheese fondue and the recommended wine is a dry white wine, perhaps Apremont.
  • Poultry served in sauce - Dry white wine or a light red such as Beaujolais.
  • Roasted poultry - A light red wine with chicken and turkey and something a bit heavier, such as Bourgogne or Saint Emilion, with duck or goose.
  • Spicy foods - Rosé de Provence would probably work.
  • Red meat - A hearty red wine such as a Bourgogne.
  • Wild game - Same as with red meat, and don't be afraid of trying a red wine with a lot of character here.
  • Dish fixed in a wine sauce - Serve the same wine as used to fix the sauce.
  • Cheese - All sorts of combinations are possible with cheese. In general red wine marries well with cheese, especially strong ones. Goats cheese goes well with dry fruity whites such as Pouilly-Fumé, and Roquefort cheese could be eaten with a Sauternes.
  • Dessert - How about some water? Champagne is often served with dessert in France. Try a port wine with chocolate. That's so good, you might just want to skip the rest of the meal and just start with dessert.

Reminder:
While you're enjoying your wine with your meal, don't forget to drink like lots of French people do: slowly. Savor the flavors and soon you will be your own resident sommelier.

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