Pairing Wine With French Onion Soup

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French Onion Soup is a robust, classic dish whose main flavors are the sweetness resulting from the slow caramelization of the onions and the savoriness of the beef broth. A properly prepared French Onion Soup is a hearty and elegant meal, with a touch of sophistication. This delicious experience can be elevated with the correct wine pairing.

Wine Characteristics To Pair With French Onion Soup

CharacteristicDetail
SweetnessDry
AcidityMedium to High
TanninsMedium
BodyMedium to Medium
NotesAromatic \ Earthy

The strong savory flavor profile of this dish will favor a dry wine. Also, French Onion Soup has a creaminess from the melted cheese and beef stock base, therefore you want to look for something that has a Medium to High acidity. 

Due to the strong flavors here, a light tannin red will be lost in the meal. Conversely, a high tannin wine will overpower the sophistication of the soup. Likewise with the body. This is a hearty dish that needs a Medium to Medium bodied wine.

Finally, the strong umami (savory flavors) of this dish goes very well when accompanied by complementary aromatics and congruent earthy, mineral, and herbaceous notes.  

Best Red Wine To Pair With French Onion Soup

Gamay. This red wine from Beaujolais is a lower alcohol, higher acid wine that draws out the flavors of the soup. The fruit flavors of plum, cherry, and raspberry highlight the sweetness of the caramelized onions.

Côtes du Rhône. This region is known for its GSM blends. As such, they are designed to be a very food-friendly pairing. The Medium body and Earthy tones marry with the onions. And you’ll find the pepper and spiciness of these wines are a welcome complement to the sweet onion flavors.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Another Rhône Valley selection, CDP is known for it’s full body and garrigue. These Medium+ tannins of CDP are smoothed out by the cheese, and the fruitiness of its raspberry and plum may enhance the sweetness of the onions.

Pinot Noir. This is a high-acid, low-tannin, medium-body offering that pairs well with French Onion Soup. Like CDP above, that fullness of the cherry, raspberry, and strawberry fruits draws out the onions’ sweetness.

Best White Wine To Pair With French Onion Soup

Viognier. This intensely aromatic white, with stone and tropical fruit flavors offers a welcome contrast to the full onion, garlic, and cheese of the soup. Additionally, the typical creaminess of this wine matches the melted cheese and the bold flavors do not get muted by the heartiness of the onions.

Chardonnay. An oaked Chardonnay is known for its buttery and toastiness. So it is hard to imagine how this could not marry perfectly with that buttery, toasted crouton and creaminess of the melted cheese. Chardonnay also has the acidity to stand toe-to-toe with the strong flavors of the soup.

Grüner Veltliner.  With high acid and medium body, its herbaceous and cirtus flavorings are very complementary to the flavor profile of the meal. The pepper and spice notes this wine leaves in the finish match the earthiness of the onions well.

Vermentino. This deep, aromatic, and powerful white has a Medium- body and Medium+ Acidity. That being said, the complexity of flavors along with the citrus-like finish makes this a safe choice. Although, you may want to look for one that has undergone MLF, (Malolactic Fermentation), as that would impart more creamy, buttery, and richer flavors to the wine.

Best Wines To Pair With French Onion Soup

Here we are looking to elevate the savoriness of the overall dish and the sweetness of the “low and slow” cooked onions.  Therefore, the best pairings to accomplish that are:

  • Beaujolais, or Cru Beaujolais
  • Côtes du Rhône
  • Viognier
  • Chardonnay, (lightly oaked)
  • Grüner Veltliner

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