A Primer on Pairing the Perfect Wine with Your French Bistro Meal

Randy Risner Vallejo

January 7, 2021

Attorney Randy Risner Talks Perfect French Food and Wine Pairings for Meetings
Lawyers rarely cook. Attorneys like Randy Risner order in or eat out while they work.

You might find that strange since most lawyers are known for loving good food. That comes from dining out often. Randy Risner’s personal favorite, French food, goes best with wine.

Depending on the dish you order, your wine differs. In a French restaurant, you might have more than one wine with dinner. You would order one wine to compliment dinner based on the entrée and one to complement the dessert.

With respect to the entrée, choose your wine based upon the meat of the dish – fish, chicken, lamb, pork, or beef. While once you become deft at this, you can add to the complexity by also considering the sauce or au jus or choosing a contrasting taste that would still bring out the flavors in the meal, explained attorney Randy Risner.

Randy Risner’s Meal Pair Suggestions

We’ll start with the basics. These essential food and wine combinations will taste good together every time, Randy Risner said.

  • Bleu cheese by itself or in a salad pairs well with Sauternes,
  • Brie cheese, chicken, lobster, scallops pair well with Chardonnay,
  • Acidic pork, oysters, shrimp, whitefish pair well with Sauvignon Blanc,
  • Salmon, fatty fish, and duck pair well with Pinot Noir.
  • Turkey, pheasant, quail pair well with Pinot Noir, red or white Burgundy, Zinfandel
  • Lamb pairs well with Red Bordeaux,
  • Traditional pork pairs well with Beaujolais,
  • Beef, venison, grilled meat pair well with Cabernet Sauvignon,
  • Braised meat and game meat such as wild bison, buffalo, or venison pair well with Burgundy,
  • Skate wing with brown butter pairs well with virtually any white wine.

Randy Risner Explains Advanced Pairings

Although this does go past the basic red with beef, white with chicken or fish, that gets too basic. You do need to gain a grasp of which meats and fish pair well with which before you advance to the complexities of how a particular sauce might influence your wine choice, Randy Risner says.

For example, if you ordered a chicken dish with a spicy sauce, you might order a glass or carafe of Gewurztraminer, but if you ordered a grilled chicken dish, a glass or carafe of Grenache would better suit the meal. You probably noticed that this violates that basic rule of white with this, red with that. Once you learn French food and wines, you can flout that rule and sometimes pair a wine that under the overarching rule of food and wine pairing would seem in conflict.

During a business meeting, luncheon, or dinner, Randy Risner suggests ordering a non-alcoholic wine. Choosing a non-alcoholic option keeps you sharp while complimenting your meal. Many fine winemakers now offer non-alcoholic options alongside their traditional selections.