A decidedly delicious delicacy, foie gras is one of France’s richest exports. While the dish itself may conjure images of white table cloths and an impeccably dressed waiter in a glamorous French restaurant, the earliest examples can be traced back to Ancient Egypt. Though the modern home of foie gras is in France, civilisations have indulged in some form of foie gras over the centuries. Whether it be Egyptians, Greeks or Roman, the incredibly smooth, lightly sweet taste of foie gras has won hearts and stomachs wherever it finds home.
How to pair Foie Gras with Wine
Foie Gras on its own is a decadent experience, but with the right wine, the experience takes on new heights. Intensely fatty and rich, foie gras needs a wine with a similar weight to lessen the overall intensity of a dish. Alternatively, using wine with some acidity can cut through the buttery texture of the foie.
A useful saying in the world of wine is ‘if it grows together it goes together.’ Though foie is not grown, we can look to classic areas of production to see the ideal pairings. Alsace and the Southwest of France are both known for fine foie gras. Here, classic wines like the sweet wines of Monbazillac are favorites in the southwest or the rich wines from Alsace like Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer tend to work quite well.
Canadian wines and foie gras
While Canada’s wine industry is small and growing, the nature of the climate allows winemakers to produce a wide range of wines from dry to sweet to sparkling. This bodes well when it comes to pairing with foie gras.
Foie Gras with Sweet Wine.
Foie and Sauternes is a tried and true pairing, but in Canada, we are blessed with a unique style of wine that few can produce: Icewine. On par with foie gras in its sheer decadence, ice wines lend themselves well to foie gras, particularly when the foie gras has got some fruit-based topping as the inherent fruitiness of icewine aligns with the toppings, and the richness of both lessens the perceived richness. Try out a classic. If Icewine is too sweet to have midway through your meal, then a late harvest wine can match just as well.
Sparkling Wine and Foie Gras
Sparkling wines works in quite the opposite way than sweet wines in their ability to pair with foie. Canadian sparkling wines work wonderfully with the salty soft quality of foie, in the same way that sparkling wine and fries work, utilizing the carbonation to lessen the feeling of the salt and fat.
Dry Wine with Foie Gras
Arguably Canada’s best wines are the legendary cool-climate whites of BC and Ontario. The inherent purity of fruit from Canadian wines, their light minerality, and food-friendliness make them perfect to pair with foie gras. Some of the best dry wines to pair are Pinot Gris or floral peach-driven Viognier.
When it comes to red wine, two great options exist, depending on the style of foie gras. For roasted or seared foie gras, a fruit-forward Merlot is a fantastic match. If unsure of the style of foie gras, then a cooler climate earthy Pinot Noir marries well to the earthy flavour of foie and has enough tannin to counteract the fatty dish.