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Summer is in full swing, and in the US that often means weekend barbecues with family and friends. But what about in France? How do the French barbecue?

You might be surprised to know that barbecues are actually quite popular in France! However, some key differences exist between American and French barbecues. Continue reading to find out about some of those differences and to get some ideas for hosting your own French-inspired barbecues this summer (with wine pairings, of course!).

French Barbecue with Rosé Wine

BBQ in France versus in the US

One important difference between grilling in France versus in the US can be the grill itself. While gas grills are perfectly acceptable in the States, you won’t find them at a French cookout. People in France tend to use wood-based charcoal to grill on.

Additionally, you won’t find these barbecues happening in public parks like you see in the US. French barbecues tend to be smaller affairs help in one’s backyard.

When you think about typical BBQ food in the US, you probably picture meat slathered with flavorful sauce. When it comes to French cookouts, though, you won’t find many sauces. In France, grillers focus on the natural flavor of the meat. As a result, the French tend to avoid heavy marinading and use of sauces when barbecuing.

So, what do the French prepare at their summer cookouts?

Merguez Sausage

Merguez

Sausage in general is popular for grilling in France, but Merguez is particularly popular. This spicy lamb (and sometimes beef) sausage originated in Morocco and is now a staple of street food in Paris as well as a go-to for barbecues.

The spicy sausage pairs perfectly with a light and fruity Beaujolais red like the Fleurie or a delicious Rosé wine.

Travers de Porc - French Barbecued Pork Ribs

Travers de Porc

“Travers de porc” simply means pork ribs, but in France they aren’t coated in rub or slathered in sauce. The preparation can even be as simple as just olive oil, herbes de Provence, and some black pepper.

Slightly peppery, complex reds with red fruit flavors pair particularly well with barbecued ribs. Our top recommendations include the La Soulane from Roussillon, the Château Real Martin from Provence, and the Château La Genestière Lirac from Tavel.

Cote de Boeuf French Barbecue Dish

Côte de Boeuf

Prime rib, or côte de boeuf, is another popular and delicious French barbecue star. To avoid thermal shock, the beef should be taken out of the refrigerator a few hours before being placed on the grill. Côte de boeuf can simply be grilled naturally as it is. Alternatively, you can rub it with a bit of coarse salt an hour before grilling, remove the salt, and then brush the meat with a light mix of olive oil, pepper, and Herbes de Provence.

Côte de boeuf calls for a strong and flavorful red like the Les Terrasses, Château Haut Calens, or Château de Portets. These silky Bordeaux reds perfectly compliment prime rib for an indulgent summer cookout.

Grilled Sardines French Barbecue Food

Sardines

Another popular barbecue dish in France is grilled sardines. They are perfect when served with a garlicky French aioli. According to this recipe by The Good Life France, all you really need for the sardines is olive oil, skewers, lemons, fleur de sel, and parsley. The aioli requires lots of garlic, some salt, EVOO, and a pestle and mortar.

For this dish, we recommend the aromatic, persistent Les Chênes de Bouscaut or, if you prefer red wine, the light and fruity Domaine Montangeron Fleurie.

Grilled Oysters

Oysters

Grilled oysters, anyone? Grilled oysters in France typically involve butter, garlic, parsley, and sometimes cheese.

A dry white like somMailier favorite La Fleur des Pins from Graves pairs exceptionally well with grilled oysters at a summer cookout.

Tomatoes a la Provencal French Summer Food and Wine

Tomates à la Provençale

Tomates à la Provençale are another French barbecue staple. These are typically roasted in the oven but are excellent served alongside the other grilled dishes.

While tomates à la Provençale are usually seen as a side dish, if they will be taking up the most room on your plate, it makes sense to pair your wine with them. For a classic summer pairing, enjoy the French roasted tomatoes with Rosé. If red wine is more your speed, go with a complex Provencal red like the La Cavale.

Grilled Peaches

Grilled Peaches

Grilled peaches like the ones in this recipe from Go French Yourself are another popular food to find at French summer cookouts. A mouthwatering combination of sweet and peppery, your friends and family will love this summer treat at your next barbecue.

Make this dish even better by pairing the peaches with a chilled glass of Champagne.

French Barbecue with Rosé Wine

Burgers

Burgers are less common at French barbecues but definitely an American staple.

If burgers are on the menu at the next summer barbecue you attend, be sure to bring a bottle of the fresh yet silky Château de Portets red from Laurent’s cousin’s winery in Graves, France.

Get Ready to Barbecue Like the French

Want to learn more about French wine? We’re here to help! Why not check out our French wine club? Every three months we send direct to your door three, six, or twelve bottles of boutique French wines which have been carefully selected by wine experts in France along with detailed information about each wine and food pairing ideas to help you really discover French wine. And as if that wasn’t enough, we also have a wine club gift option for that special wine lover in your life!

We also offering free shipping on 12-bottle orders within the continental US (including our 12-bottle Club Et Voila and Et Voila Gift options). We are also offering 50% off shipping of 12-bottle orders to Hawaii. Mix and match your favorites from our wine cellar, or stock up with 12 bottles of your favorite.

Debra is happy to help with any custom orders. Please reach out to her via email at debra@sommailier.com.

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