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 wine 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.
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 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!
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.