What To Pair With Bordeaux Wine
Bordeaux - the wine capital of the world and the epicentre of viticulture. Rich in history and culture, it is easy to understand why this southwestern port is a pilgrimage for aficionados of French wine. However, if you are unable to make an immediate excursion, you can relish the opulent luxury of a bottle of Bordeaux in the comfort of your own home - in 2021 alone, the region exported over 252 million bottles worldwide.
Enjoying an exceptional wine with a meal to compliment its character truly is a treat for the senses. Successfully pairing your wine and food leads to a heightened experience of flavour, texture and quality so you can appreciate your Bordeaux wine in all its glory.
With its ruby red hue and bold flavours of raspberry, blackberry and plum, Merlot is one of the world's most popular wine choices. Merlot produced in Bordeaux is often referred to as 'Cool Climate Merlot' and is more structured and earthy when compared to its Warm Climate counterparts, produced by countries such as Australia or Chile.
Merlot is highly versatile and will generally complement most dishes. From white to red meats, pizza to pasta, a medium-bodied variety will enhance savoury and umami flavours. Should you choose a more robust bottle with a higher alcohol content, you can enjoy your Merlot with bolder flavours found in game meat and mature cheese.
Often confused with a fuller-bodied Merlot when tasted blind, Cabernet Sauvignon is similarly hearty and layered but with a slight increase of acidity and bitterness. Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon - often referred to as Old World - can be defined by aromas of tobacco, leather, oak and liquorice.
Bold, flavourful choices will suit this solid, heady wine. High in tannins, Cabernet Sauvignon perfectly compliments red meats, velvety sauces and peppery piquancies. Such a complex and layered variety of wine can balance rich foods high in fat such as Filet Mignon, Gratin Dauphinois or bleu cheese stuffed mushrooms.
The parent of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc is lighter and takes on a more perfumed, rustic character, with savoury elements of green pepper and herbs. Other familiar fruity flavours can be detected, namely cherry, strawberry and raspberry. This powerful yet elegant variety is exceptionally balanced and drinkable.
Cabernet Franc pairs particularly well with savoury dishes flavoured heavily with herbs such as rosemary, tarragon and dill. A lighter variety will compliment white meat, delicate fish or even herb-crusted grilled lamb. Salty entrées such as olives or Cubanelle peppers stuffed with goat's cheese are superb for balancing the acidity and subtle fruity nature of Cabernet Franc. Young sheep's milk cheeses such as pecorino or feta will work similarly well.
This refreshing dry white wine is popular worldwide for its aromatic, herbaceous charm and attractive lemon-green hue. Sauvignon Blanc is medium-bodied and offers bright, punchy flavours reminiscent of grapefruit and gooseberry, which give way to reveal underlying savoury hints of asparagus and pea shoots. The combination of grassy notes and a tart fruity crispness constitutes a bright, palatable tipple, best served chilled on a warm summer evening.
Light, fresh flavours are ideal to compliment the citrus notes of Sauvignon Blanc; for example, zingy tomato salad, lemon sole and tagliatelle with creamy basil pesto. Sauces and salsas high in good quality olive oil will cut through this variety's acidity, generating an exquisite balance of flavour and texture; this is also applicable to slightly fattier white meats such as pork and oily fish such as salmon.
Full-bodied, rich and waxy, Semillon is France's 4th most popular wine variety, taking its name from the town of Saint-Émilion during the early 1700s. Often blended with Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon is a dry, crisp, refreshing variety with notes of lemon, green apple and pear. Semillon grapes have a deep gold hue and produce high yields, making them popular among growers.
Semillon works harmoniously with heavier fish dishes and seafood such as monkfish, scallops and oysters. Bold, aromatic spices like cardamom and cumin pair well with Semillon's warm, earthy aromas of honey and ginger. The sweet, aniseed kick of fennel-based dishes also work tremendously well with this wine; for example, lemon gnocchi topped with roasted fennel and rocket.