French "du vin" is of course world famous and the quality is exceptional.
The quality depends on the variety of the grape it is made from, the region of France where it is grown and, of course, the climate during that wine-growing year.
And so it is also with French liqueurs and
spirits, they are all of such good quality and are so good as drinks, or in
your favourite recipes!
Wine is often included in French cooking as it enhances the flavours of the dish. It is not the alcohol but the actual flavour that does this.
So, it is always best to use a good quality wine 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.
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 some suggestions about which to drink with your meal, here are a few basic guidelines that 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 consumed 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!
The Burgundy and also the Rhônes are examples of this type. They can be served with duck, goose, offal, game and some cheeses such as the famous Roquefort.
These include clarets from the Medoc or Graves district of France. They can be served with poultry, veal, lamb, beef, ham, game, foie 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 Côtes du Rhône, 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...keep an eye open for Tavel, which is an excellent rosé.
Champagne is mostly served as an apéritif or at the end of an evening, but it can be served with the whole meal.
Dry champagne is served as an apéritif, with foie gras, nuts and dried fruit. Sweet champagne is served with desserts and pastries.
French wines are wide-ranging and diverse in character. Check out these story lines that tell you more:
Beaujolais Nouveau explained.
Bordeaux Wines don't need to cost a fortune. (See wine regions of France below.)
Limoux Wines from around the city of Limoux in Languedoc in south-western France.
Malbec from the south-west of France.
Pinot Noir is well worth tracking down.
And then there is Marc "eau de vie", the step from mash to marc is pure chemistry.
An introduction to the mystery of wine tasting and some tips for learning how to taste wine and what to look for in a good wine. Of course it takes a little more practice, but that's the pleasure of the tasting!
To learn more, explore the wine regions of France.
Last but definitely not least!
Opening a bottle of wine with the proper method is very important to ensure the wine is not disturbed and nothing is introduced that should not be there, such as pieces of cork and the wine is not spilt, which would be like sacrilege!