French wines and French food – a marriage made in heaven! They go together so well, it is a way of life in France that is second to none.
French is of course world famous and the quality is exceptional. The quality depends on the variety of the grape it is made from, the wine regions of France it is grown and of course, the climate during that wine growing year.
And so it is also with their French liqueurs and spirits, they are all of such good quality and are so good as drinks or in your favourite recipes!
They are often included in French cooking as they enhance the flavours of the dish. It is not the alcohol but the actual flavour which does this.
It is always best to use a good quality as the results will be far better.
Reds used in cooking are usually good full bodied types. An example here would be a lesser Burgundy such as a Macon or a Claret such as Saint-Emilion.
White is best if using a dry but not sweet. A white Macon from the Pinot Blanc or the Chardonnay grape is suitable.
Fortified, spirits and liqueurs are used for flavouring a dish as in a sauce, gravy or desserts. They are often expensive but only a small amount is used. An example of these are Cointreau, Grand Marnier, Madeira and Brandy.
To Serve with Your Meal
It can be overwhelming if you are a novice drinker as there is so much choice. However, on a personal level, I feel that you can enjoy any with your meal as long as you enjoy them together, that is good!
However if you would like a few tips on which to drink with your meal here are a few basic guidelines which you may find helpful
Basically they should complement the food and not overpower it. A robust type would overpower a delicate dish; a dry one would taste sour if drunk with a sweet dessert
I particularly enjoy Daube which is a very tasty, slow cooked casserole. A good example here would be a Burgundy red as this would go wonderfully well with the rich meaty casserole (and in fact for cooking the dish). A Burgundy would also be good with a dish of rabbit and prunes – delicious!
Full Bodied Reds
The Burgundy and also the Rhones are examples of this type. They can be served with duck, goose, offal, game and some cheeses such as the famous Roquefort.
Light Bodied Reds
These include Clarets from the Medoc or Graves district of France. They can be served with poultry, veal, lamb, beef, ham, game, foi gras, and some soft cheeses such as Camembert.
Full Bodied Dry Whites
These are served with fish, poultry and also veal in creamy sauces. Examples here are Cotes Du Rhone, White Burgundy or Graves.
Light Dry Whites
A good example of a light dry white is a good Riesling from the Alsace region, a Muscadet or Chablis. These are excellent with fish, cold meats, egg dishes and entreés.
These (not the champagnes) are wonderful with desserts, creams, soufflés, and of course wonderful French cakes!
Rosé are so versatile, they can be served with most food but particularly with cold dishes, patés , egg dishes and pork.
Champagne is mostly served as an apéritif or at the end of an evening but it can also be served with the whole meal.
Dry champagne is served as an apéritif, with foi gras, nuts and dried fruit. Sweet champagne is served with desserts and pastries.