Matching Wining With Dining

How well does the wine go with the meal we’ve ordered?
(Lunch with Warren Trabant at L’Epi Dupin)

Matching Wining with Dining

Parler Paris–your daily taste of life in Paris and France

Monday, March 8, 2004
Paris, France

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Dear Parler Paris Reader,

Every month, we benefit from Max Bachellerie’s amazing knowledge of wines with a lesson or explanation or about a specific production area in France. Max is back this month with talk about the most imprecise ‘science’ of the coordination of Wine and Food! The first rule, again, is that there are no rules! However, we can discuss some “truths” which can later be modified according to your personal likes.

– It’s better to serve a white wine before a red one
– It’s more delightful to drink a dry white wine before a sugared white one
– An obvious sequence for red wines is:

*Light before stronger
*Simple before complex
*Young before mature

Concerning types of food, we can say the following:

– Simple foods with simple wines
– Simple meal, only one wine
– Light dish with light wine
– Fatty dish with red, slightly chilled wine
– Strong dishes, like game, with strong red wine
– Match regional dishes with regional wines
– Match high level cuisine with high level wines

Accordingly, and due to the fact that everyone has their own personal tastes, habits, and budget, etc., you cannot expect that I will be providing you with a list of dishes and their complementary wines. However, I’ll give you some more ‘rules’ and mistakes to avoid.


If you intend to serve several different wines during the meal, begin with the lightest red or a dry white wine. Let me remind you that a too sugared white wine with foie gras is heretical (think about your palate if you follow a sugared white with a red wine!) So I prefer serving foie gras with a demi sec white or a Gewurztraminer. For a salad with dressing (oil, vinegar…), I would say: No wine.

Fish, Seafood

The choice is more or less simple:

– No red wine (except if you’ve cooked the fish in red wine)
– Grilled fish: rich dry white wines (Burgundy, Rhone Valley)
– Fish with sauce: fine dry white wine (Loire Valley)
– Shellfish: very dry white wine (Sauvignon)(For those who cannot drink white wine, a rose wine can be served.)


By following this next advice you will avoid mistakes:

– White meat (fowl, veal, pork): Light, spicy red wine (a not too strong Syrah, for example) If these meats are prepared with a white sauce, do not hesitate to serve a strong white wine, e.g. a Burgundy. — Red meat: all red wines with tannins like Merlot and Cabernet-Sauvignon.
– Game: red wine, as strong as possible. Madiran with tannat grapes is perfect.


According to the strength of the cheese, select a proportionally strong wine. As a change, I suggest daring to serve a white wine! It’s fantastic, and a light way to ease digestion after a big, wonderful meal. Also, it’s a new trend! With blue cheeses, a sugared white wine is perfect.


By the time you reach this point in the meal, if you’re like me, it’s sometimes already too much! So, my best suggestion (perhaps not the least expensive) is a nice glass of very chilled…champagne!

Before I say “A la prochaine, ” let me give you my two last fantastic experiments in ‘matching’ wine and food:

– with a pan fried foie gras (foie gras ‘cru’): a glass of cognac
– with very spicy Indian food (meat): a late harvested white wine

Bon Appétit!

Max Bachellerie for Parler Paris

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. Max does private wine tasting parties! Visit /parlerparis/gourmet/maxonwine.html for more details or contact him at or call +33 (0) Also, don’t forget to join us tomorrow at Parler Paris Après Midi, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at La Pierre du Marais (upstairs). See /parlerparis/apresmidi.html for the details.

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* Further resources:

* Survival French! Get your French up to snuff with the best teacher in town. As part of the Travel Writers Workshop…open to everyone

* Practice speaking FRENCH…Celebrating our 6th Year in Paris
With a 6th Anniversary Hot Chili Lunch Saturday, April 3, 11 a.m.

* Great meals in Paris don’t have to be expensive. Parisians do it every day…pay less. Learn how.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

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every week, read more about a subscription here: or call 1-800-643-2479.


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