In honor of Bastille Day—or la fête nationale, Katie Melchior of @FrenchWineTutor is taking us on a virtual tasting tour of France through our wines. Read on to learn more and join us in celebrating by cracking open your favorite French wine. Cheers!
Let’s start in the northwest corner of France, the Western Loire Valley. I have nothing but fond memories of Muscadet, and it remains one of my go-to French white wines today. This wine is a classic example of the category, with a characteristic combination of lemon-lime acidity and a breath of salinity from the Atlantic Ocean.
Pairings: French oysters are classic, but this is also going to be a great one for all kinds of other seafood and fish (like cod – known as cabillaud in France, which the French eat pretty regularly), and its tang will go nicely with the soft goat cheeses from the Loire Valley, like Crottin de Chavignol and Bûcherondin.
Hop on the virtual train from Nantes to Bordeaux. Once you arrive and settle into a nice little bistrot, you’ll probably find a Bordeaux just like this one on the menu. While Bordeaux is renowned for its high-priced grand cru classé, I’m always more interested in regional appellations like this one that you can open just about anywhere and pair with just about anything. The value for price ratio here (and for many appellations like it) is incredible. This wine is 95% Merlot, and only 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, which means it’s a bit more lush, approachable, and great to drink now.
Pairings: If you really want to go all-out southwestern French, this wine screams to be paired with a salade magret de canard – a French duck breast salad. And if you’re feeling extra fancy, seared foie gras will also be a major hit.
There is no other region in the world that elevates the rosé category more than Provence. This one is full of luscious strawberry and raspberry aromas. On the palate, it explodes with juiciness and is balanced with medium acidity. While drinking this, it’s almost like I could smell the Mediterranean breeze and lavender wafting through the air. Ah, Provence – the true heart and soul of France!
Pairings: Provence has no shortage of culinary delights, many of which will be easy to replicate in your American kitchen. Make a deliciously light salade niçoise or pair this wine with grilled white asparagus. If you’re looking for something a bit warmer, make the most of your summer vegetables with a classic ratatouille and roasted chicken.
Rhône and Provence are sisters both in geography and winemaking tradition. You can easily drive from Aix-en-Provence to the heart of the Rhône region within an hour, and when you get there, you’ll find wines for all seasons and occasions. Côtes du Rhône is, in my opinion, the perfect summer red. Juicy, fruit-forward (think blackberries and dark cherries in this Grenache dominant blend), great with a bit of chill and way too easy to drink -- that’s what you’ll find in this delicious light red.
Pairings: Lyon, at the north of the Rhône Valley, is a French culinary mecca and its influence is evident throughout the region. A less famous French salad from there is the salade lyonnaise, which follows the same pattern as salade niçoise but substitutes bacon for the tuna. The salty umami you’ll get from the Syrah in the wine and the bacon will be addicting.
Et voilà! I hope you pop open a bottle of one of these impeccable options from France this Bastille Day. No matter where you are in the world, I truly believe that French wines can always enrich your experience. Pick up these wines on ninetypluscellars.com and follow me on Instagram at @FrenchWineTutor for more recommendations, pronunciations, and pairings!