Top 10 French White Wines

France is popular for its rich cuisine and its cuisine wouldn’t be complete without its complementary wines. Now here are top ten French white wines for those out there who prefer fish, seafood, or fowl over red meat dishes.

1. Laurent Perrier Ultra Brut NV

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Price: $32.99
Champagne is one of the most popular drinks you will most often find in parties. Now this one has rich tones of peach stones, orange blossoms, and lemon zest with a hint of almonds. This lively wine would complement pescetarian dishes really well.

2. Le Meurger Bourgogne Chardonnay 2008

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Price: $18.99
Burgundy is a place that’s famous not only for its Pinot noir grapes but also for its Chardonnay. So knowing that this bottle came from there could only mean good things for anyone who gets their hands on this. This wine has hints of cinnamon, honey, butter, and nuts. It would complement risotto and pasta dishes.

3. Chateau Ste. Michelle & Dr. Loosen Eroica Riesling 2006

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Price: $15.99
This wine was made from Riesling grapes and has subtles traces of sweet melon, peach, and honeysuckle. It is a popular vintage because it is just lively and sweet enough for an entire dinner. It would complement a variety of chicken dishes quite well.

4. Domaine de Bellivière Jasnières les Rosiers 2004

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Price: $29.99
This bottle was made from Chenin Blanc grapes, a not so popular variety. It has hints of tropical fruits such as pineapples or guava but has obvious traces of other flavors such as honey, marzipan, peach, and quince jelly. It would complement grilled or spicy fish, or other seafood dishes.

5. Château Le Grand Verdus Ct-6 Bordeaux Blanc Aoc 2007

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Price: $23.63
This white wine from the Bordeaux region has rich traces of reserved fruits and could be excellent for cooking. It also tastes a bit lush and a tad sweet on the tongue. It would go well with creamy pasta and rice dishes.

6. Paul Blanck Gewürztraminer Alsace Altenbourg 2000

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Price: $15.00
This bottle of of white wine was made with Gewürztraminer grapes from the Alsace region of France. It has traces of very ripe fruits and could have hints of lychees. It also has roses, passion fruit, and other sweet floral aromas. It would complement any fowl dishes particularly ones with turkey or chicken meat.

7. Château Puysserguier, Saint Chinian White, 2008

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Price: $19.74
This bottle is a blend of Grencache Blanc, Maranne, and Vermentino grapes. It has subtle hints of honey and spice , and acacia flowers. This wine would complement vegetable or pasta dishes quite well.

8. Picpoul de Pinet, Fougeray de Beauclair 2007

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Price: $8.93
This wine from the Burgundy region of France was made with Picpoul (or Piquepoul) blanc grapes. It has subtle traces of nuts, cinammon, dry herbs and spice, and even ripe orchard fruits. It goes well with fish and shellfish dishes.

9. Cote Tariquet Vin de Pays des CĂ´tes de Gascogne 2007

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Price: $7.99
This table wine is a blend of a variety of Chardonnay grapes from Armagnac region of France. It is filled with the taste of rich tropical fruits and is a good complementary wine for vegetable or rice dishes.

10. Domaine Josmeyer Mise du Printemps Pinot Blanc Alsace 2008

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Price: $4.99
This bottle is full of rich white fruits and beautiful grape and peardrop aromas. It would complement seafood dishes, particularly shrimp, or a plate of spicy tomato salad.

So, are you convinced yet that white wine could be as great for dinner as the red? You should try whipping your favorite fish or chicken dishes today, pick up a bottle of white wine to go with it, and be surprised by how good the combo is. Bon appetit!

8 Interesting Facts on French Cuisine

French cuisine has been gaining fans for centuries now. And there’s really no puzzle about it. French food is amazingly rich, both in flavor and tradition. And they can be really stylish as well, especially if you go to one of those fancy French restaurants. So for all those French cuisine aficionados out there, here are 8 interesting facts on this wonderfully popular cuisine.

1. Dinner has four parts

French cuisine is noted for its painstakingly careful preparations and dinners could often be a whole evening affair. In fact, a typical dinner in France consists of four parts; a) appetizer, b) main course, c) cheeses and bread, and d) dessert. Sometimes, an alcoholic drink called a digestive is even offered after dessert. Amazing, right? But then, if you were forced to have dinner with annoying relatives, it could be quite an excruciating ordeal. Haha.

2. Lunches last at least two hours

For the French people, food should be consumed with as much care as they were prepared. In fact, lunch breaks are no less than two-hour midday breaks for people in the cities. Yes, most offices in France give employees two hours every day for lunches. And if you work in a small town, you could be even luckier because breaks there could be more than two hours. Lucky employees! I mean, who wouldn’t want to have two-hour lunch breaks?

3. Wines are as important as meals

During main meals, the French typically puts two glasses for each plate. Why? Well, one is for water, the other is for wine. Yes, they would more often than not have wine with their food. And yes, that story about children in France being allowed to drink wine with meals might very well be true. You see, the French believe that wine is an integral part of meals. But of course, they make sure they serve wine that would complement the meal. I believe the old rule of “white wine for seafood and poultry, red wine for red meat” applies, most of the time.

4. Aperitif is served with appetizers

When I first heard about this, I thought it could just be any drink that you serve to guests while they wait for the appetizers, such as soda or juice. I know! I could be such an ignoramus sometimes. But actually, aperitif is an alcoholic drink, usually a cocktail. And it is served along with, not before, the appetizers. Cocktails that could serve as great aperitifs are martinis, gimlets, and manhattans.

5. Truffles are fungi, not chocolate confections

In France, when you mention truffle, people wouldn’t be thinking about a flavorful chocolate ball. They would be thinking of an aromatic fungus that would be perfect for an omelette. You read that right! Truffles are fungi. They are found mostly in Western Europe and they are collected in the wild by sicking pigs, or dogs, on them. I’m not joking. Pigs and dogs are used to find these fungi because they’re the only animals that could smell and find them, as these are usually buried underground.

6. Dishes are often regional

I have read somewhere that one of the reasons French cuisine has excellent dishes is because most French chefs use only fresh ingredients. This means that their recipes have ingredients that are readily available at local markets. For instance, towns near the sea would most likely serve seafood dishes. On the other hand, places in the south of France would often use fruits and vegetables in their recipes because, due to their mild climate, those are the ingredients they have in abundance.

7. There are three types of French cuisine

Apparently, French cuisine is a category with its own subcategories. Stylish, right? Now, the three types of French cuisine are; a) Classical French Cuisine – mainly regional dishes; rich and filling dishes, usually uses cream-based sauces, a-1) Haute cuisine – the more expensive and classier type of Classical French cuisine, most often served in French restaurants outside France, b) Cuisine Nouvelle – simpler and lighter recipes, portions are smaller, heavy cream sauces are avoided, mainly seasonal dishes using local ingredients, c) Cuisine du terroir – mainly regional specialities, strictly uses local ingredients, and food traditions are the main focus when cooking.

8. Italian influences

According to experts, and I’m not sure if this has really been confirmed by meticulous fact checkers, French cuisine is believed to have started right around the time Henry II married the Italian royal consort Catherine de Medici. It is said that Catherine was very fond of parties and festivities. And when she came to France to marry the king, she brought with her an entourage of the finest chefs and pastry makers from Italy at that time to help her organize all the lavish feasts she wanted to hold.

Well, do you know of any other interesting factoids about French cuisine? If you do, don’t hesitate to share. You can never know too much about something as delectably rich and intriguing as French cuisine.

 

7 Most Famous Kinds of French Cheese

One of the things I love about French dinners is that cheeses actually have their own place in them. I mean, where else would you be served cheese between the main course and dessert? And you would be served not just one yummy French cheese, but four! I tell you, French dinners are delectablyly charminng. Obviously, I love cheese. Now, here are seven most famous kinds of French cheese.

1. Camembert

Camembert
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Price: $8.80
Camembert is made from usually pasteurized cow’s milk. In France, however, they prefer to use raw unpasteurized cow’s milk. It is soft, gooey, and creamy inside with a white dry rind outside. It is said to have been invented in Normandy, in a town called Camembert. But some experts say this could just be a popular local myth. Another interesting tidbit about this cheese is that the famous surrealist painter Salvador Dali mentioned it was the inspiration behind his most famous painting of a runny clock entitled “The Persistence of Memory”. Experts say Camembert goes well with red wine.

2. Brie de Meaux

Brie de Meaux
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Price: $19.99
Brie is made from whole or skimmed cow’s milk that could be pasteurized or unpasteurized. It looks a bit like Camembert and it also uses the same species of mold but it is more solid on the inside. If your Brie looks as gooey as a Camembert, it is most probably overripe, which you don’t really want. It was invented in Brie, the province for which it was named after. Although this type of French cheese is usually white, there is a type of Brie that has a brownish and drier rind called Brie Noir. It is drier and has a daker color because it is aged longer than the typical Brie. Like Camembert, Brie is served with red wine.

3. Roquefort

Roquefort
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Price: $25.49
Roquefort is a popular blue cheese made from ewe’s milk. It is made, like most French cheeses, in rounds and is white in color with spots of blue green, which is actually mold, all over it. The production of this cheese is quite curious because it is aged inside caves that can only be found in Mont Combalou in Roquefort-sur-Soulzon. Originally, the mold for this cheese was taken directly from the cave soil but now it is cultured inside labs. Moreover, technically this cheese can be made outside of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon but they cannot take the name Roquefort because the label is protected by French law. Quite snobbish, right? And in my opinion, so French. I read somewhere that Zinfandel goes well with Roquefort.

4. Boursin

Boursin
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Price: $7.25
Boursin is a cream cheese that is made from cow’s milk mixed with salt, spices, and herbs. It was invented by, and named after, a French cheesemaker named Francois Boursin from Normandy in 1957. Boursin Garlic & Fine Herbs, the original recipe only has milk, cream, salt, pepper, garlic, chives, and parsley. This variety continues to be the most popular one today. Most people eat this creamily delicious cheese with bread, usually a baguette. It goes well with a bottle of fruity red wine.

5. Reblochon

Reblochon
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Price: $84.00
Reblochon is a soft cheese from raw or unpasteurized cow’s milk. It is aged in caves or cellars in the mountains of Haute Savoie. There is a charming anecdote regarding this cheese’s name and origin. The story goes that during the Middle Ages, farmers paid their taxes with milk from their cattle. But in order to pay less, the farmers do not fully milk their animals. (I guess nobody really likes taxes, even then. I sure don’t.) And after the tax collectors go, the farmers milk their cattle again. The much richer milk they get with the second milking is the one they use to make Reblochon. In fact, the word Reblochon comes from the French word “reblocher” which means “to milk the cow’s again”. Reblochon is said to have a nutty taste and a strong herby smell. Similar to Boursin, a bottle of fruity red wine would complement this yummy cheese.

6. Munster

Munster
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Price: $13.99
Munster is a soft white cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk from cattle found in the mountain range in northeastern France called Vosges. It is said to have been first made by monks who lived in Munster Valley, who came from Ireland. Munster is rubbed by hand with a cloth soaked in a rock salt and water solution. Then it is left outside for a week. After a week, the cheese is brought inside the caves where they are left to age. However, the cheese is washed and brushed every two days. Munster cheese has quite a strong flavor and smell, and it is usually paired with red wine.

7. Pont l’Evèque

Pont l'Evèque
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Price: $16.19
Pont l’Evèque is a pale yellow cheese with a white orange rind. It is considered to be among the world’s oldest cheeses. It is known to have been first produced during the Middles ages, around the thirteenth century. It was first known by the name of d’Angelot. Centuries later, it was mainly manufactured in a community called Pont l’Evèque in Normandy. And that was how it later adapted the name. It is often made from pasteurized cow’s milk. It is a soft creamy and buttery cheese with a rather strong aroma or odor. Some say it goes well with Pinot Noir, while others say it is perfect with Champagne. My advice? Try both and decide for yourself which one complements Pont l’Evèque best.

Is your favorite French cheese in this list? If it’s not, what is your favorite French cheese? What wine do you usually serve with it? Do you know any interesting stories behind your favorite French cheese?

 

Dill and Butter Sauces

A proper sauce is an indispensable addition served with French appetizers, salads, and main courses. Various types of French mayonnaises and marinades feature raw or gently heated ingredients and add valuable enzymes and a heavenly taste to vegetables, meats, and fish dishes.

Creamy Dill Sauce:

This refreshing sauce goes wonderfully with cold roast beef, poached salmon, cold cooked ham, or salmon mousse. Beat 1 egg and combine with 1 tbsp grated onion, 4 tbsp lemon juice, 4 tbsp finely chopped dill, 1 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 1 cup crème fraîche or piima cream. Check for seasonings and add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice, if desired. Serve immediately.

Beurre Blanc (Butter Sauce):

This is a classic French sauce served with fish dishes. Place in a small pan 6 tbsp minced shallots, 6 tbsp dry white wine, and 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice. Bring to boil and reduce to about 2 tbsp. Piece after piece, add 1/2 cup butter cut into small cubes, whisking thoroughly after each addition. Sauce should thicken and become frothy. As soon as all butter has been melted, remove the sauce from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve right away with cold or hot fish.

Béarnaise Sauce:

This wonderful sauce is a great complement to grilled meats or fish. The taste is fantastic, but making it requires some mastering. In a small saucepan, combine 2 tbsp finely chopped shallots or green onions, 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh or dried tarragon, and 2 tbsp each of white wine vinegar and white wine or vermouth. Bring to boil and reduce to about 1 tbsp. Piece after piece, add 1/2 cup butter cut into small cubes, whisking constantly until all butter has been melted. Slowly, drop by drop, add 5 beaten eggs yolks, whisking the sauce constantly until it has thickened. Remove from the heat and add a bit of fresh lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Serve warm.

French Sorrel

French sorrel (Rumex Scutatus), a mildly acidic cultivated green herb, has always been praised throughout Europe, especially in France where it enjoys its greatest popularity. It is a very ancient herb; its name is derived from the Teutonic word for “sour”. Ancient species of sorrel were extensively used in pharaonic Egypt and its allied type, garden sorrel, is still employed in modern Egyptian cooking. The ancient Greeks and Romans respected the herb for its role in promoting digestion and considered it a good complement to rich, fatty meals.To store, put French sorrel into a sealed plastic bag and keep in the refrigerator. Sorrel does not dry well, but it can be frozen successfully. Its leaves, rich in potassium and vitamins C and A, will keep its beneficial qualities and great taste for a long time, but they are especially good when fresh.

In cooking, sorrel is generally pureed and can be a perfect base for sauces that accompany poached eggs and fish. This herb is also used in mixed green salads, sandwiches, omelettes, and with soft goat cheeses, veal, pork, and fish. Be careful to cut it only with stainless steel knives and refrain from cooking it in metal pots, because the high acidity of sorrel causes them to discolour. In modern French cuisine, this herb is most notably used to prepare the three popular dishes: sorrel soup, salmon with sorrel sauce, or “saumon a l’oseille”, and

veal stew with sorrel:

Heat 4 tsp of olive oil and butter in a heavy skillet, add about 1 kg of cubed boneless veal (in small batches), sauté over low heat until golden, and transfer to a casserole pot. In the same skillet, sauté 2 finely chopped onions and about 250 gm mushrooms until they are tender. Transfer to the casserole pot with 1 cup each of home-made chicken stock and dry white wine and add bouquet garni (a French term for a bundle of herbs, usually, parsley, thyme, and a bay leaf) and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for about 2 hours, until the veal is tender. Transfer the veal cubes to a serving dish. Remove the bouquet garni. Reduce the cooking liquid by rapid boiling, stir in chopped French sorrel (about 250 gm), and cook until soft, for about 10 min. Pour over the veal and serve with white rice and a glass of red Burgundy wine. Enjoy!