The influence of French cuisine in our culture is undeniable. It has inspired chefs around the world for generations. As interpreted by talented chefs like Escoffier and Bocuse, classic French cuisine will never go out of fashion.
Distinct regions divide France, each with deeply rooted cooking traditions. But one thing unites them all: wine. Whether we’re talking about the alpine highlands, the Atlantic shores, or the warm Mediterranean basin, food always makes a heavenly pairing with the local wine.
Article Table of Contents
Muscadet and Oysters
Strong, humid winds hit the Atlantic coast of North-western France, home to one of the most underrated wine styles: Muscadet from the Melon de Bourgogne grape. This simple-is-beautiful wine pairs well with the oceanic produce of the region. Crustaceans, herring, scallops, and sole are typical of the area. Tourists and locals flock here to enjoy fresh oysters, raw on their shells, with this pitch-perfect white wine.
Sauvignon Blanc and Soft Cheese
Follow the Loire River into continental France and you will find vast Sauvignon Blanc vineyards. Here, the weather is cold enough to produce wines with piercing acidity and enticing, sharp flavors. These wines are perfect for the goat cheeses made in local communes like Valençay and Chavignol. This is the original chèvre; shaped like a small ball, pyramid, or cylinder, with a piquant flavor and creamy texture. Some styles cover the cheese in ash. No matter the presentation, goat cheese and Sauvignon Blanc is a marriage made in heaven.
Artisans also produce Brie and Camembert, which work nicely too. While harder and weightier examples of goat cheese exist, it’s the fresh, soft examples that shine best with Sauvignon Blanc.
Alsace and Choucroute
Alsace is a magical region doused with German spirit. You can see it in the architecture, and also in the favored foods like bratwurst, sausages, schnitzel, and potato pancakes. It all mirrors the typical Germanic table. Their famous mixed platter of charcuterie with sauerkraut, called choucroute garnie, is a great example of the region’s culinary tradition.
Whether it’s Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer, or Muscat, Alsatian white wine goes well with the uncomplicated regional dishes. Tarte Flambé, a pizza-like bread topped with cheese and onion, or the ubiquitous quiche, are classic examples of foods that work well with a tart, white wine. Alsatians make excellent beer, too, a classic pairing to discuss another time.
Burgundy and Boeuf Bourguignon
Hundreds of years of political, religious, and commercial activity have turned the quiet hills of Burgundy into a gourmand’s utopia. From escargot to coq au vin, the province has plenty of inspiriting dishes to offer alongside their world-famous wine.
Boeuf bourguignon is a classic beef stew of the region. This one-pot dish might seem like casual food, but like all French cuisine, it is made from high-quality ingredients and takes serious technique to execute properly.
While carrots, onions, and local herbs lend flavor, the dish is actually named after its secret ingredient: local red wine, or Bourgogne Rouge, made from the Pinot Noir grape. For the wine pairing, a Pinot Noir from Pommard or Gevrey-Chambertin has the weight, acidity, and matching flavors to balance out this substantial dish.
Bordeaux and Canard
Red Bordeaux is almost always a blend of several local grapes, with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the lead. This structured wine is a well-known match with beef and lamb, but locals love pairing it with another specialty of the region: duck.
Confit de Canard consists of flavorful duck meat cooked in duck fat. The result is an intense dish matched only by the tannic grip of these aromatic wines. Acidity is vital to cut the fatty meat, too. The result is a heavenly pairing like no other.
Beaujolais and Andouillette
Beaujolais is both a wine region and a wine style. The young, lively Beaujolais Nouveau is surely the best-known, but dedicated producers make age-worthy examples from the signature Gamay grape.
Lyon is the culinary capital here. The style merges the cuisine of the Mediterranean basin with the sophistication of Burgundy in the north. Its rich culinary history includes the local favorite, Andouillette sausage. This is a sausage made of pork and veal offal. This delicacy is strongly flavored, especially when grilled. It has a wild profile that goes very well with the light-bodied red Beaujolais. The uncomplicated wine plays a crucial role, reviving the palate and adding tantalizing fresh fruit aromas to the pairing.
Provence Rosé and Bouillabaisse
There’s no better seafood stew than the Provençal Bouillabaisse. Fresh, local ingredients and Mediterranean seasoning make this flavorful soup an ideal dish for a warm, sunny day. For the pairing, dry and ripe rosé from the region is the way to go.
Sipping rosé in the Côte d’Azur should be on everyone’s bucket list, and enjoying a warm Bouillabaisse alongside is a peak culinary experience.
The list goes on and on; French food and wine pairings are a longstanding tradition. Local pairings have been fine-tuned by time and recipes that transcend generations. The result: Gastronomic Heaven.
Looking for more? Check out our list of ten class food and wine pairings.