The Perfect Match: Food and Bordeaux Wines – Bordeaux, a region on the west coast of central France, is famous for its picturesque landscape, fairy tale castles, and vast vineyards from whence come some of the world’s most prized wines. The region is divided by the Gironde estuary, which cuts it into Left and Right banks and differentiates between the blends of red Bordeaux wines. A red blend from here, also called a Claret, can be made of up to five grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. Dry and sweet white wines are also produced here, with their popular Sauternes a blend of the following varieties: Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle that have been exposed to the fungus botrytis.
Winemaking in Bordeaux follows centuries-old traditions and nomenclature, wherein bottles are ranked and named according to regions of origin and growth chateaus. That said, Bordeaux has a bottle to offer anyone, from trophy wines to vintage selections to everyday sippers. Paired with food, a relaxed ambience, and some me-time or delightful company, a bottle of Bordeaux wine is sure to be a treat!
But what foods pair best with Bordeaux wines?
Bordeaux Reds, Left Bank
Wines from this area tend to have more of the Cabernet Sauvignon and as such will taste more rugged, earthy, and bitter due to tannins. These are the wines that age well. To smooth out the tannins, Left Bank Bordeaux reds work best with heavier and fatter meats such as beef steaks and lambs. Salt and spices, such as chipotle, soy, and cloves, also work extremely well.
Alternatively, you may prefer simpler dishes that allow the many flavours of this wine to shine through. Should you prefer white meat, such as chicken, try using recipes that incorporate mushrooms and tomatoes.
Bordeaux Reds, Right Bank
Meanwhile, wines from this region are dominant in Merlot, a black and blue fruit. These wines are softer, have lower alcohol and acidity, and taste juicier. As such, sweet and savoury plates, as well as any barbecue of leaner meats like pork and duck, pair nicely with this type of Bordeaux red. Stewed meat with stronger sauces greatly complements a younger bottle of wine.
Called the Entre-Deux-Mers, this region between the 2 banks is more known for its variety of white wines that are dry and fresh or sweet, creamy, and have citrus, apple, or vanilla notes. The sweetness is due to the fungus, which causes the grapes to shrivel. Because white wines tend to be more acidic and/or sweeter, they work well to balance salty cheese and mixed salads. Desserts are also terrific accompaniments. In addition, the versatility and refreshing taste of Bordeaux whites allow for great combinations with many types of seafood: sushi, oysters, clams and fish. White meat, such as chicken, veal, and turkey, is also excellent with Bordeaux whites.
Whenever wine is served, it is best to use the right type of glass and the correct decanting time and temperature to maximize this luxurious experience. However, despite the aforementioned rules, the best guide to serving wines with food is to simply ignore the rules and go with your own preferences! Together, your favourite food and favourite Bordeaux wine will always be the perfect match.