Pairing food and French wine shouldn’t be complicated and It does not need to be scientific. The most important thing is, it’s fun coming up with great wine and food pairing ideas!
So, let's get started with a simple guide;
Region to Region
Let’s begin with simplest of all food pairing and that is French wines, red and white, from the same region as your plate of choice are a natural pairing so, if they grew up together they generally go together.
Mild to Mild – Big to Big
Keep flavours in balance by matching mild dishes with mild wines and big, flavourful dishes with big, flavourful wines. It’s simple, if we served a delicate wine such as a Beaujolais Gamay with a spicy hot Korma curry it would end up tasting more like water, however, it would be a perfect moment to match spice to spice with a spice-driven red Rhone GSM. Similarly you generally want to match the richness of the dish and the richness of the wine so, in this case, if we had Chicken in a rich cream sauce then it’s time to search the fridge for a rich Chardonnay.
Great with Great – Modest with Modest
If you are hosting a dinner with multiple courses of beautifully prepared dishes then think Great with Great it’s time to open something special but if it's pizza night then modest to modest as there is no use wasting your pricey Bordeaux cabernet.
Complement or Contrast
The most classic concept of pairing food and wine is to use mirror flavours in order to compliment each other. If you have an earthy, mushroom dish; then pair it with an earthy wine like a Red Burgundy that’s classic mirroring. Another classic would be a rich, buttery Chardonnay with a lobster in cream sauce; which is also rich and buttery.
Many people think that this classic mirroring and complementing of flavours is the only way to pair with success. We say have some fun with it and try a contrast. If you have a spicy dish instead of mirroring with a spice-driven Rhone GSM try an off-dry white like Gewürztraminer or even a sweet Sauternes. The sweetness of the wine will counteract the spiciness of the food, creating a balance and cleansing the palate. Or what about an Alsace Riesling with its crisp acidity it is known to be effective at soothing the spicy burn from very hot or spicy foods.
Take a holistic approach
Another classic is to pair the wine with the meat or the protein served in a dish like Burgundy Pinot Noir with duck or a Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon with lamb. While these classic suggestions work, don’t forget that what accompanies a dish, as often the sauce or vegetables offer a more unique or extreme flavour than the main. So, instead of pairing the wine simply to the protein look at the whole picture and if your sauce or side has a powerhouse flavour, use that as your wine pairing inspiration.
Sometimes when in doubt and it may seem too complicated the simplest way to a good pairing is to think about a flexible wine. These are your classic food wines, such as whites with crisp cleansing acidity, Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling for example. Similarly lighter style reds with nice tension and acidity like Pinot Noir or low tannin red wines like GSM blends from the Rhone. These all pair well with a wide range of foods from simple takeaway through to more complex dishes.
Dare to Discover & Have Fun
Life is not meant to be boring and too many people and sommeliers make food and wine pairing look like a technical thesis. Wine and food is fun! Don’t be afraid to explore unusual combinations of aromas, tastes, and textures. There is no single one wine you are “supposed” to drink with every dish. Have fun trying different wines with different foods, trying is learning and before you know it you’ll create a cherished list of terrific pairings ready to impress and be shared.
What do you Like?
The best advice we can provide to get started with food and wine pairings is, it’s all about what you like to drink and eat. Pour wines you like with food you like. It does no good to take a dish you love and pair it with a wine you do not like, simply because someone said it was a perfect wine and food match.
Take all our suggestions above as a suggestion and remember one thing, if you like it, it works!