Similar to the wine in France, the food in Paris has been perfected by focusing on “the one thing,” over and over, for sometimes hundreds of years. Cheese, bread, and chocolate each receive special, individual attention there and it comes through in the flavor profiles in ways that garner a worldwide reputation. Because of the way these foods are cultivated and sourced, they don’t bring with them the same fat and grease content as the American version. This is important to know because this changes the accompanying wine suggested for pairing.
During a trip to the Loire Valley, I met a goat. He had a blue tag in his right ear and was about waist height. I’ll never forget this goat because he made the most amazing cheese. It was disc-shaped and a creamy center with a texture like pudding, but an aftertaste of grapefruit. Paired with an off-dry rose, this goat’s cheese demonstrates how focusing on “the one thing” makes a powerful impact on the dining experience. There are roses from Loire Valley that are perfect with these kinds of cheeses.
In Bordeaux, the wines are classified by the estates, rather than the terroir and/or grape. This makes it harder to remember the names of the wines, especially if you don’t speak French. This is also a good excuse to travel to the Bordeaux region and get a tour. Once you stand in the vineyard of a family estate that has been perfecting their process over (sometimes hundreds of) years, it’s easier to recall that name and blending style.
Here are a few wines with suggestions of dishes to pair them with:
- Beef Bourguignon: red Burgundy, Côtes du Rhône, Gamay (a cousin of Pinot Noir), or Domaine de la Meynarde Plan de Dieu 2012 France
- Crepes: Depends…
- Chocolate: Cerdon du Bugey rosé, Banyuls, Champagne
- Carrot Chickpea (recipe in Tasting Paris): Cerdon du Bugey rosé, Vouvray
- Quiche: Champagne, Beaujolais, Alsace, Medoc, Côtes du Rhône
- Fois Gras: Champagne, Chateau Coutet, or any Sauternes wine
- Charcuterie: Champagne, Beaujolais, Loire red
While many of the best dishes in France, like many of the best dishes anywhere, are heavy in salt and/or fat. It’s going to take an acidic wine to cut through that deliciousness. Wines with a lot of tannins, like a Cabernet or Syrah, will be overkill with a thinly sliced salami or steaming bowl of mussels.
Not trying to be preferential toward Champagne with these foods, but there’s a reason this region has the lockdown on this type of wine. They NEED it to go with their foods, typically made in very high heat and with heavy creams (I’m looking at you cheese souffle.)
Read more from our wine expert, Rebecca, HERE.