Best Wine for French Onion Soup

French onion soup is a classic dish that’s popular around the world. The combination of beef broth, caramelized onions and cheese is a simple yet delicious meal that’s easy enough for everyday dinner or something special for entertaining friends and family.

While there are several different ways to prepare French onion soup, it’s always best to serve it with a glass of red wine. Let’s take a look at the best wines to pair with this classic French dish:

Zinfandel

Zinfandels are a dark red wine with intense flavors of black pepper, tobacco and vanilla. They pair well with the sweetness of caramelized onions and beef stock. In fact, there are no rules when it comes to matching wines with food. You can try anything that sounds good to you. Zinfandels come from many different places around the world including California in the US; Australia; Italy; France and more.

I recommend the following Zins:

Journeyman Wines, San Lorenzo ‘The Pearl’ Old Vine Red (Alexander Valley)

A floral bouquet with notes of tobacco and anise. This is a bold, full-bodied red

It has rich flavors of chocolate, with dark fruits and pepper. Velvet smooth mouthfeel and a tannic finish. Let it breathe before serving.

Hartford Family Winery Hartford Dina’s Vineyard Zinfandel

Hartford Russian River Valley Zinfandel presents aromas of ripe plum, blackberry and black cherry. White pepper and allspice add complexity to this wine’s fruity bouquet. A burst of blueberry, raspberry, nutmeg and chocolate flavors lead to a long-lasting finish.

Carlisle Papera Ranch Zinfandel 2020

Another excellent Zinfandel from Russian River, California. 

Ruby-red in color. On the nose it is bright cherry with aromas of blackberry and raspberry with notes of vanilla and tobacco. It is medium-full-bodied and very smooth on the palate. 

Beaujolais

The Beaujolais wine is a great pairing for a French onion soup with a vegetarian base. It’s light and fruity, usually served chilled, and makes an excellent match for the soup. The cheese topping adds to the flavor profile of this dish as well as its texture, so it’s important to choose a wine that compliments both elements.

A light fruit flavor like you’d find in red grapes works best here. Try Beaujolais or another light red such as or Pinot Noir (though these will have more tannins than your average Beaujolais).

I recommend one of the following excellent Beaujolais:

Domaine Jean Foillard Morgon Cote du Py

Critic tasting note: (2007 vintage) “This is a great glass of fruitiness, all red berry flavors, sweetness and softness. It has a density at the same time, coming from the concentrated, ripe fruits. This is a pleasure of a wine, the only hint of aging potential coming from soft tannins and final acidity.” – 89/100Wine Enthusiast

Domaine Marcel Lapierre Morgon

Critic tasting note: (2007 vintage) “Bottled unfiltered, this shows extravagant fruit, very rich, black cherry in character, with tannins that veer between serious structured concentration and balanced with the fruit. The texture is sweet, the fruit deliciously ripe, showing good concentration as well as an exuberant play between acidity and fruit.” – 91/100Wine Enthusiast

Chateau Thivin Cote de Brouilly Cuvee Zaccharie

Critic tasting note: (2020 vintage) “The top wine from this estate, this draws much of its texture from the volcanic soil of Mount Brouilly. That gives a tight character to this young wine and also great promise. Black fruits, acidity, and tannins and vanilla from wood aging come together well in a wine ready to drink from 2024. Roger Voss” – 94/100Wine Enthusiast

Riesling

A medium-to-dry Riesling can complement the beefy broth. Rieslings are best with beef-based dishes and make a great pairing for French onion soup. The soup is typically made with wine, and German wine works here.

There are sweet and dry versions of Riesling, so you have to be careful about what kind of soup you’re making when choosing one to pair with it. For a sweet wine, try a German Riesling. For a dry wine, try an Austrian Riesling. The best Rieslings come from Germany or Austria and are typically made with grapes that have been aged in oak barrels (which is why they’re so good with red meat).

Check out one of these excellent examples of Riesling:

Georg Albrecht Schneider Niersteiner Riesling Kabinett 2017

This Kabinett is a fresh, crisp wine with lingering sweetness balanced by tart lemon-lime acidity. Delicate wisps of smoke and earth lend touches of complexity throughout, adding dimensions to its fruity character.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese

Spätlese Riesling is richer and more intense in flavor than Kabinett. It comes with a lively minerality that perfectly balances the bright white peach and lemon fruit you’ll find here. Worth seeking out.

Ransom Sunnyside Vineyard Riesling (Willamette Valley of Oregon)

From the vineyard themselves, “This single vineyard, old vine bottling from the South Salem Hills is a classic, terroir-revealing Riesling. Opening with fresh fruit aromas of key lime and pineapple, the palate offers vivid acidity and flavors of Meyer lemon zest and candied ginger wrapped around a mineral vein. The wine finishes fresh and bright, with a beguiling note of honeysuckle blossom. A delight to drink now, but also exceedingly age-worthy.” 

Pinot Noir

A Pinot Noir will add to the complexity of the soup without overpowering it. Pinot Noir is a red wine, but it’s an aromatic one, which means that it should be a bit lighter in the body than some other red wines. It can also be dry or sweet, so you have lots of options when it comes to your pairing.

I would choose from the following Pinot Noir:

2016 Domaine Lecheneaut Les Pruliers

This is towards the more expensive end of the price range but no doubt this is an exceptional wine. Les Pruliers has a strong color. The wine offers aromas of fresh red fruit, wild prunes, and licorice. As it ages, it adds depth and roundness. It has aromas of cocoa, and smoked meat.

2019 Fanny Sabre Bourgogne Rouge

More affordable is the Fanny Sabre Bourgogne Rouge. This is an organic pinot noir that’s delicate, easy to drink, and naturally delicious. It has a fresh, crunchy, summer pudding fruit flavor with crisp acidity and just lip-smacking moreishness. And because it’s low in sulfur, it’s great for summer or winter drinking.

2018 Corazza Pinot Nero

At the lower end of the price range is the Pinot Nero. This is a unique wine from Friuli, a region in northeastern Italy. It’s made from the pinot noir grape and is unlike other pinot noirs you might be used to. It’s light, bright, and easy to drink.

French Bordeaux

Whether it’s a chilly winter evening or a cool summer day, Bordeaux is the perfect pairing. Bordeaux is a red wine from the Bordeaux region of France and has been produced for centuries.

The blend typically consists of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes that are aged in oak barrels for up to two years before being bottled. It can be enjoyed by itself or paired with food like steak or French onion soup, which are both well-known as classic French dishes.

Try one of these excellent examples of Bordeaux:

2019 Duffau-Lagarrosse Chateau Beausejour

This wine is harvested from old vines grown in chalky clay soil, which delivers a distinctive wine. It opens with a fruity bouquet of raspberry and blueberry with hints of plum, chocolate, and spice. It is also fruity on the palate. Rich, medium to full-bodied, beautifully balanced, and a wine that will age well if cellared.

2020 Chateau Mangot Cuvee Todeschini ‘Distique’

A great value authentic Bordeaux. It is ruby red in color with aromas of black and red berry fruit. It has notes of cherry, vanilla, and oak. This is a dry, medium acid, medium alcohol Bordeaux with good tannins.  Another that will benefit from aging.

2018 Errazuriz Don Maximiano Founder’s Reserve

Looking beyond France’s borders for some value, this Chilean red is bold and exceptional.  Bordeaux is deeply ruby red in color with an instant smack of blackberry and cherry.  It has notes of oak with chocolate, black pepper, and a little spice. It has good acid and the finish is velvet smooth. Outstanding wine.

French Chardonnay

In a nutshell, Chardonnay is a white grape, and it makes a great pairing for French onion soup. The reason why this particular wine goes so well with the soup is that it complements the savory flavors of onions and garlic without overpowering them.

Chardonnay also has a smooth finish that works well with rich dishes like French onion soup. It’s not too dry or too sweet; instead, it does just enough to balance out the strong flavors of your meal without overwhelming them.

These are some of the best Chardonnays you can try:

Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay

This vineyard is located in California, and it’s a great place to start your search for a good Chardonnay with crab legs. This wine is made from grapes grown in the Sonoma Valley, where the climate is ideal for growing them. Fermented and aged in French and American oak barrels for richness, toastiness, and complexity.

J. Lohr Chardonnay

This California winery has been making award-winning wines for over 30 years, and this Chardonnay is no exception. They use grapes from their own vineyards in Monterey County, which means that you can be sure the quality is always high. This wine has a rich golden color with notes of citrus and vanilla on the nose.

Ladera Vineyards Chardonnay

This Chardonnay is made from grapes grown in the Santa Lucia Highlands, which is a cool climate area. It’s aged in French oak barrels for about 15 months before being bottled and has notes of vanilla and toasted hazelnuts on the nose.

Hagafen Cellars “Reserve” Napa Valley Chardonnay

Made from grapes grown in Napa Valley. It has a rich golden color with notes of citrus, vanilla, and toasted hazelnuts on the nose. It’s aged for about 18 months in French oak barrels before being bottled.

Syrah

This wine is a good match for the onions, cheese, and beef broth. Syrah is a red wine made from the Syrah grape and is best served with beef or lamb but works just fine with French Onion Soup. This wine has a rich smoky flavor that lingers on the tongue, perfect for pairing with strong flavors like cheese and beef broth.

Try one of these fine examples:

Calcareous Reserve Syrah 2020, Paso Robles

From the winery. “Aged in 40% deeply toasted French barrels for 18 months, our Estate Syrah is made to showcase the depth and power of the varietal from our soil. Full of juicy blackberry, dark cocoa, and tar mingling with rich fully ripe tannin, this massive wine is built for marbled rib eye and slow-smoked pork shoulder. It should age exquisitely for 12+ years.”    

Lewis Cellars Alec’s Blend 2018

A great wine to pair with. Flavors of black and red fruits with black pepper. Notes of vanilla, chocolate with a good acidity. Blended 57% Syrah, 28% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon with the rest Cabernet Franc.

Seppeltsfield 2018 Shiraz (Barossa Valley)

You can’t have a list of great Shiraz without a Barossa Valley and this is a cracker. It is a bold red with a fruity bouquet of dark cherry and blackberry with hints of oak, vanilla, and coffee. Acidity is good with medium tannins.  Highly recommended.

Conclusion

While the French might not agree with me on the pairing of wine and onion soup, they do believe in a perfect match for their beloved dish: Beaujolais. Beaujolais is often enjoyed with food because it’s light and fruity. It pairs particularly well with rich dishes like French onion soup, which can sometimes be overly sweet or heavy tasting on its own. This is my personal choice but the other wines discussed will also work well.

If you are making your own French Onion Soup, I recommend Allrecipes French Onion Soup Gratinée recipe.

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