The French, whether love them or hate them – you can’t help but fall in love with their wine. Similar to the people, French wines are not in your face or reveal all they have to offer in one sip. These wines slowly unfold, to reveal their depth and complexity, luring you in, and keeping you longing for just one more glass.
Gothamist spent this past week in Paris rekindling our love affair with French wines. These wines are not the most approachable - with their complex labels and high-ticket prices, can be quite intimidating. But like the first time jumping into the deep end of the pool, sometimes you just need to close your eyes, cross your fingers and dive in. So that we did – delicate lush Burgundies, bold complex Bordeauxs, lively Rhones – we tried them all, and for the sake of accuracy – we tried them again (and again).
We discovered through our wine exploration that each region of France has it’s own unique personality and we had the opportunity to get up close and personal with each one, all from our comfy seat at the La Tartine wine bar in Paris…
The wines of Bordeaux, may be the most famous - but of the three regions we focused on, probably the least exciting (at least in our price range). Now if we were looking to pair steak au poivre or lamb with these wines – it may be different but they just didn't seduce us like the other wines we had. What did work well in these wines were the beautiful structure of black currant fruit and mineral notes. What we are referring to when we say mineral notes are hints of granite and rock scents found in the wine – we know it sounds crazy but next time your are sipping on Bordeaux, smell it and you’ll know exactly what we are referring to.
Grapes: Red wine: blends of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc. White wine: Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon
This is our pick for a wine with a great French meal
With the recent success of Sideways, Pinot Noirs from Burgundy have become the newest celebrity of wines. It is certainly well deserved, but we hate that the secret is out. But truth be told, the Pinot Noirs from Burgundy are perhaps one of life’s great pleasures. The velvet texture and smooth fruit notes are refined yet expressive. The wine opens to slowly reveal raspberry notes and finishes with hints of earth and mushroom (again, we know these descriptions sounds crazy but that's the beautiful thing about French wines – the dimension of the flavors).
Grapes: Red wine: Pinot Noir. White wine: Chardonnay
This wine is great alone or can be paired with Chicken sautéed with mushrooms.
The wines from Rhone are exciting, spicy and full of life. This was our wine of choice for those late nights on the Seine. These wines achieve that wonderful balance of fruit and spice – bursting with blackberry fruit and notes of white pepper. These wines are great to serve at a cocktail party with tapas or on it’s own.
Grapes: Red wine: Syrah and Grenache. White wine: Viognier
If you are looking for a fabulous French wine to spice up your evening this is it. Also try wines from the Languedoc region, they have great spice and are quite affordable.
Well, we barely scratched the surface of the great wines of France but we hope this was enough to whet your appetite. You don't have to go to Paris to re-discover these amazing wines - New York is brimming with fabulous wine bars and restaurants specializing in French wine like A.O.C. and Rhone - but if you do, please send our regards to
Fabien, who helped us to understand the best of France.