You’ve heard this saying before: “Good wine pairing is most successful when the wine and the food come from the same region”. Truth or myth?
Well, it is mostly true, but everyone is entitled to an opinion and fortunately, there are a lot of opinions out there. Some might say that good wine pairing can be done by matching wine and food, both produced in the same region. Those “produits du terroir” will have a tendency to naturally blend nicely together. Others will deny those preconceived notions, and think outside of the box. Wine is not a game of “Simon Says”. Have fun, try various food paring and see what works best for you!
This post focuses on foie gras pairing: Foie gras is a popular and well-known delicacy in French cuisine. France is the leading producer and consumer of duck and goose foie gras, and the Gironde and Dordogne regions (southwest of France) proudly carry the reputation of making the best foie gras on earth. So according to the wine pairing “rule” mentioned above, I would be limited to the highly recommended accompaniment for foie gras: the notorious Sauternes. This is a classic match but I’ll be damned if my only option were Sauternes. Don’t get me wrong, Sauternes is an excellent wine, but it is also a desert wine. It is so sweet, it would simply overpower the delicate and buttery taste of foie gras.
Don’t be afraid of trying something else, like a refreshing semi-sweet Riesling from the Rhine region of Germany. Riesling can be a bit on the dry side, but this is what makes it a good match. Thanks to its perfect balance of acidity and sugar, this wine can handle a wide variety of food without being overpowering.
That’s not all! Alsace is one of the biggest consumers of foie gras in France, and they decided to try it with their local wine: the Gewürztraminer. That turned out to be a pretty good match! In some regions, foie gras is served with tiny candied violet petals. Dry Gewürztraminers can also have aromas of passion fruit, roses and other floral notes, which achieves a similar pairing result.
Another option would be the semi-sweet wine called Monbazillac from Bergerac in Dordogne (yes, the town from which the famous writer and lover Cyrano came from). Made with Muscadelle grape (not to be confused with Muscadet wine from the Loire Valley), the Monbazillac is lighter and more peppery than Sauternes.
Let’s not forget the one-of-a-kind Vin Jaune from the Jura region of France, also know as “vin de paille”. With strong aromas and rich woody flavors of various nuts, honey, caramel and gingerbread, this wine is a definite candidate for foie gras. It also pairs beautifully with Comté cheese, but that’s another story.
And of course, there’s always the party wine: Champagne! The yeast and the carbonation, or bubbles, help cut through the fat of the foie gras, therefore providing an excellent match. A “demi-sec” Champagne will do the trick.
To quote Robert Parker (again) – “There can never be any substitute for your own palate nor any better education than tasting the wine yourself.” – So go out there and try some wine pairing of your own. There’s creativity in wine. Don’t be such a conformist and have fun! Just go easy on the foie gras ;)
Cool fact: The practice of fattening birds through forced overfeeding started in Egypt as early as 2500 BC! Whether they particularly sought the fattened livers of migratory birds as a delicacy remains undetermined. The technique was quickly adopted for goose fattening and spread from Egypt to the Mediterranean around the 5th century BC.
Wine quote: “I found a wonderful Pinot Noir that pairs perfectly with my mouth.” – Anonymous. (enjoy more famous excerpts by visiting our wine quotes page.)