12 Classic French Food-Wine Pairings

A perfect food-wine pairing elevates both elements. Here are 12 favorite French recipes pairings, including Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhône, Sauternes, and more.

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Oysters and wine in a French bistro.

1. Chablis & Oysters

Chablis is a satellite region of Burgundy, known for its pure chardonnay wines made with little or no oak. Classic Chablis is full of tension, minerality, and zest. The soils of Chablis are rich in calcium and fossils from an ancient sea, making the pairing with oysters natural and perfect. Most oyster dishes pair well with Chablis, but the simplest and finest match is raw.

Ansonia Ideas: Gautheron, Collet
Oyster Ideas: Island Creek, Norumbega

A hill in Vosne-Romanée, Burgundy, in France.

2. White Burgundy & Veal

White Burgundy is the highest expression of Chardonnay. Famous sources include Meursault, Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet, St. Aubin, and Corton-Charlemagne. As long as the wine retains some acidity, it should match beautifully with the subtle, delicate flavors of the veal. We’ve linked our favorite stew below.

Ansonia Ideas: Boyer-Martenot, Morey, Ravaut, Gagnard, Thomas, Belland
Veal Recipe: Marcella Hazan’s Veal Stew with Sage, White Wine, and Cream

Christophe Martin, a winemaker in a vineyard in Gorges, Muscadet, Loire Valley, France.

3. Muscadet & Mussels

Muscadet is the refreshing, uncomplicated white wine made along the Loire River near the Atlantic Coast. With the ocean nearby, it’s a perfect match for shellfish, particularly oysters or mussels.

Ansonia Ideas: Martin-Luneau
Mussles Recipe: David Liebovitz Moules Marinières

Vineyards in Sancerre, Loire Valley, France.

4. Sancerre & Sole/Flounder

Sancerre is pure Sauvignon Blanc, and our favorites (including those from neighboring Pouilly-Fumé) are tank raised with no oak. Their combination of juicy grapefruit and mineral freshness matches beautifully with a fine fish in butter. Julia Child cites the combination as one of her favorites.

Ansonia Ideas: Garenne, Michot
Sole Recipe: Bon Appetit’s Sole Meunière

Vineyards in Condrieu and Côte Rôtie, Northern Rhône Valley, France.

5. Condrieu & Asparagus with Hollandaise

Condrieu is the highest form of Viognier, a grape known for its viscous texture and explosive aromatics. Asparagus is famously difficult to pair with wine, but this combination elevates both into a perfect food-wine pairing. Make sure to use enough lemon in your hollandaise, and don’t overcook your asparagus.

Ansonia Ideas: Bonnefond
Recipe: Bon Appetit’s Hollandaise

 

drawing of ducks

6. Red Burgundy & Duck

Red Burgundy is the most complex and subtle expression of Pinot Noir. At its finest it combines delicate berry fruits with cool earthiness; as it ages red Burgundy picks up notes of underbrush, mushrooms and leather. Our favorite pairing is a carefully roasted duck breast, marrying the delicacy of red meat with a hint of gaminess.

Ansonia Ideas: Gros, Amiot, Varoilles, Quivy, Belland, Ravaut
Duck Recipe: Thomas Keller’s Pan Roasted Duck Breasts

A vineyard in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Rhône Valley, Provence, France.

7. Southern Rhône Red & Stew

Southern Rhone reds usually blend Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and other grapes. The resulting wines are bold and rich, with mouthfilling textures and dark, jammy notes. Most beef stews work well with these sturdy, cozy wines; one of our favorites comes from Patricia Wells, an expert in Provençal cooking.

Ansonia Ideas: Goubert, Souverain, André, Malmont, Joncuas, Mestre
Stew Recipe: Patricia Wells’s Daube au Vin Rouge

A vineyard in Juliénas, Beaujolais, France.

8. Beaujolais & Coq au Vin

Beaujolais is the often-underestimated red from southern Burgundy. Made from pure Gamay, the wines are jubilant and easy to appreciate. The freshness in Beaujolais gives it plenty of tension to cut through the richness of stew, but the berry notes match better with chicken than beef or pork.

Ansonia Ideas: Perrachon, Monnet
Coq au Vin Recipe: Julia Child’s Coq au Vin

A hill in Cornas, Northern Rhône Valley, France.

9. Northern Rhône Syrah & Lamb

Northern Rhône Syrah is as subtle and elegant as the varietal gets, combining dark berry complexion with soaring, lightweight aromatics. Tasters often find notes of smoked meats, bacon, licorice, and cloves, and our favorite food-wine pairing for these is the subtle gaminess of lamb.

Ansonia Ideas: Bonnefond, Saint-Clair, Dumien-Serrette, Tunnel
Lamb Recipe: Daniel Boulud’s Leg of Lamb

The town of Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux, France.

10. Bordeaux & Steak

Steak pairs well with many reds from France, but our favorite match is Bordeaux. In particular, merlot-dominant Bordeaux from the right bank (Pomerol, St-Emilion) provides a juicy foil for the savory richness of fine steak. We recommend splurging on meat quality, and using crunchy flake salt for texture.

Ansonia Ideas: Dauriac, Fleuron de Liot, Lafont-Menaut
Steak Recipe: Bon Appetit’s Perfect Steak

Winemaker Hervé Ligier, winemaker in Arbois, Jura, France.

11. Vin Jaune & Comté

Vin Jaune is the oxidized, sherry-like wine made in France’s Jura region. It’s intense, unusual, and delicious: think notes of walnuts, dried fruit, anise, curry, pine, etc. It can be a bit abrupt on its own, but with cheese – specifically Comté from the same region – it is magical. A legendary food-wine pairing.

Ansonia Ideas: Ligier
Cheese Suggestion: 24-36 month Comté

Winemaker M. Bon of Chateau Voigny, in Sauternes, Bordeaux, France

12. Sauternes & Roquefort

Sauternes is another idiosyncratic wine, but one with a long and famous history. A favorite wine of Thomas Jefferson, Sauternes is made from mold-covered shriveled up grapes just south of Bordeaux – it’s sweet, complex, and remarkable. Look for notes of apricot, pineapple, magon, ginger, caramel and honey. We suggest combining this moldy sweetness with some moldy saltiness: any blue cheese will do, but Roquefort will do best.

Ansonia Ideas: Voigny
Cheese Suggestion: Roquefort (room temperature)