L’apéro, or l’apéritif is a time-honored tradition in France: an hour or so before dinner, l’apéro marks the time to unwind with a glass of wine and a few light bites. If you’re looking for some fresh ideas on what to choose for a Bordeaux-inspired apéro, here are three styles and simple food pairings to consider.
A glass of sparkling wine is one of the best ways to start the meal. Consider Crémant de Bordeaux, one of the region’s best-kept secrets. Crémants are non-Champagne French sparkling wines made with the classic method. Crémants de Bordeaux are usually produced in a brut style and can be found in white and rosé versions. Both are fruity, crisp, and dry, and perfect paired with oysters and shrimp skewers.
Bordeaux offers a wide choice of white wines, with many options to consider for the apéro hour. Madeline Triffon, MS, finds that “dry whites from Bordeaux can be found in a range of styles with impressive wines from the from the top estates.” In particular, vibrant and mineral-driven Sauvignon Blanc-based whites from appellations such as Entre-deux-Mers and Premières Côtes de Bordeaux offer balance, drinkability, and versatility when it comes to food pairing. Also look for richer, oak-aged wines from the Péssac-Leognan appellation. These Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc blends have layered aromas and flavors of spicy baked apple and pear, crème brulée, and ripe citrus. Crisp and flavorful Bordeaux whites pair beautifully with a fun and fruity jam, a sharp hard cheese, and a rosemary cracker.
The apéro hour is a time for discovery and relaxation, ideal for tasting a new red style from Bordeaux. Bordeaux rouge is made in a wide range of styles, from lighter, softer wines for everyday enjoyment to some of the greatest age-worthy reds. The New Reds of Bordeaux are modern and easy-to-drink, making them a perfect choice for apéro. Youthful, fruit-driven wines can be found in appellations such as Côtes de Bourg, Côtes de Bordeaux, and Fronsac. Wines from Right Bank appellations of Saint-Émilion and adjacent satellite regions (Lussac-Saint-Émilion, Montagne-Saint-Émilion, etc.) are Merlot-based, round, and structured with soft tannins. Finally, wines from the classified growth estates in St-Estèphe, Pauillac, St-Julien, and Margaux offer unparalleled character and complexity. Peter Granoff, MS, says that “wines from the satellite appellations such as Bourg, Blaye, and Saint-Émilion can offer exceptional value and drinkability. Otherwise, with wines from the classified growth chateaux, seek out values that can be found in lesser vintages.” The new reds of Bordeaux are a great pairing for charcuterie boards; make sure to include at least one soft cheese, marinated olives, prosciutto, and crusty baguette.
To learn more about Bordeaux, watch the virtual learning series,
How the Experts Tackle Bordeaux.
Article written by Tim Gaiser, Master Sommelier