France’s wines and its signature cuisine are both well-established, setting the international standard for what fine dining can truly be. Wine can be enjoyed alone or paired to enhance the flavor profile of a meal. The best French restaurants boast not only a delicious menu but also a curated selection of wines designed to enhance the menu flavors.
For those who aren’t expert wine connoisseurs, it can be a challenge to know which of the region’s diverse wine choices will pair best with any given dish. French cuisine is all about highlighting the flavors of the ingredients, so finding the right wine partnership is crucial to creating the optimal dining experience.
Fortunately, there are some easy-to-remember tips that, if kept in mind, can make selecting the perfect pairing effortless.
The key to understanding French wines is the concept of terroir. Literally, it means “soil,” but when it comes to food and wine, it means so much more. Each region – even each part of each region – has a unique combination of weather, soil, and environment, which is reflected in the grapes that grow there.
Grapes are notoriously finicky plants, so farmers have to know their surroundings intimately to get a healthy harvest. Every French wine is a reflection of the place where it was grown, down to the individual vineyard. This level of intimate specificity means it’s possible to track where the grapes from a certain bottle of wine were grown by the flavor alone.
France has nine main wine-making regions, from Bordeaux to Champagne to Provence, each producing a few signature wines. In other parts of the world, one wine – excellent though it may be – ends up being largely the same as another. French wines can be seen as a liquid reflection of the unique vineyard they come from.
This is why France boasts such a fantastic variety of high-quality wines. In addition, the inevitable connection between food and wine in French cuisine means that most French wines are made specifically to be enjoyed with a meal. This makes them the obvious choice for any restaurant with a decent wine list and even for a novice sommelier.
Now that you know why French wines are an essential part of any meal, it’s time to take a look at an authentic French restaurant menu to explain some pairing rules with real-world examples.
Considering the flavor profile of your dish and the wines on offer will help you pair your meals. Using your wine to balance flavors in the meal, such as the creamy Pappardelle pasta, which can be balanced by the acidity of a good Chardonnay – is called a complementary pairing. On the other hand, you may prefer a congruent pairing, which amplifies the flavors of the dish by echoing them in the wine choice, like pairing a sweet wine with your dessert.
One way to learn which wines pair well with certain dishes is to ask your waiter, bartender, or sommelier for advice and remember the combinations that work well for you. Once you know which types of wines work for your favorite dishes, you’ll build confidence in ordering your own wine pairings.
There’s no better place in the Upper East Side to experience exceptional French cuisine and wine pairing. Jacques Brasserie offers flavorful food, an inviting atmosphere, and an exquisitely curated wine list. Reserve a table and explore the very best of French cuisine as it was meant to be enjoyed.