As a French wine club we think a lot about how and when people drink wine. Do you enjoy a delicious glass of red after a long hard day at work? Or do you prefer to plan out your meals and pick a wine that will complement your cooking?
Chances are you probably do a bit of both. Over in France, though, the norm is to always accompany your glass with something delicious to eat, and that approach is really starting to take off in the States. If you think about it, it makes total sense. The French know how to enjoy life to the full and everywhere from humble family dining rooms to gourmet Parisian restaurants the pleasures of the table are taken very seriously. After all, why would you merely have something delicious to drink when you could be having amazing wine and food?
How The French Drink Wine
Over in France you will rarely see people drinking wine, and especially red wine, unless it’s accompanied by food. This tradition holds true even when enjoying an aperitif as the French usually have some canapés or even just some olives and bread on hand to go with their glass of Champagne or crisp white wine.
The norm is to enjoy a glass or two along with your dinner, while the French president famously admitted he likes a glass with his lunch as well. French meals are usually relaxed, multi-course affairs which offer plenty of time to unwind and savor the flavors on your plate and in your glass.
One key benefit to this growing trend is that the idea of wine as a part of your meal rather than a stand-alone drink helps you to drink in moderation. Picking out a nice bottle to go with your dinner adds a special touch to your meal and can help you set limits the amount you drink.
Another strong reason to drink wine with food is that it can help to reduce the risk of a hangover the next day. When you drink alcohol on an empty stomach you absorb the alcohol into your bloodstream far more quickly. Having wine with food helps to slow down this process and protects your liver as well by holding the alcohol in your stomach for longer where it starts to break down.
The other good news is that drinking wine with food can help you to avoid putting on weight. A study in 2007 reported that consuming just two glasses of wine on an empty stomach led to a 25% increase in food intake during the next meal. And as we all know, we’re far more likely to reach for the chips after a few drinks rather than a healthy salad!
Aperitifs and Sharing Boards
If you want to try this new trend a good way to start is by considering where you can combine your wine drinking habits with your meals. If you’re planning to enjoy drinks after work, why not make an evening of it and invite friends over to enjoy sharing platters of cheese and charcuterie or some spicy nachos. Adding food to your afterwork drinks helps to turn it into a special occasion and you’ll appreciate both the wine and the food more than if you were just drinking wine alone as a cocktail.
Low Stress Food and Wine Pairing
Although it might seem daunting to start pairing your meals with wine, it doesn’t have to be stressful at all. To simplify the process and make sure you actually enjoy what you’re eating and drinking, begin by considering what wines and dishes you really like.
Once you’ve done this you can move on to some basic guidelines to help you choose wine and food that pair well together. For example, try to pair rich red wines like Chateauneuf-du-Pape or a red Bordeaux with heavier dishes like a beef stew, steak or pasta with a rich meaty sauce. Another basic guideline is to serve lighter wines, like white wines, with lighter dishes like fish, chicken or salads. If you’re a fan of hot and spicy Mexican or Asian cuisine, try drinking a light red or white wine with plenty of acidity to balance out the heat and cleanse your palate.
None of these rules are set in stone, though, and if you find them too challenging the most important thing to remember is to eat and drink things that you enjoy. If you love a perfectly-cooked steak and you prefer to drink oaky white wines, there’s no reason why you can’t drink these together even though they don’t match up according to traditional food and wine pairing rules.
If you want to try out drinking like the French do, a great way to get started is through our French wine club. Every quarter we carefully source delicious artisanal wines direct from France and ship them direct to your door. Each bottle comes with an information card describing ideal food pairings so you can easily put together a delicious meal to enjoy with family or friends and enjoy a true taste of French culture.