French onion soup combines a variety of strong earthy and umami flavors for a bold and refined meal that many chefs regard as one of the toughest dishes to perfection.
Anthony Bordain once wrote that the keys to a high-quality French onion soup are quality homemade stock, and fully browned and caramelized onions.
When it comes to French onion soup wine pairing, the two main keys are choosing a wine that is both light in body, and full of bright and subtle tasting notes that work with the heavy flavors of the soup to elevate both the food and wine.
Top Choices for French Onion Soup Wine Pairings
Beaujolais Nouveau are simple and fruity, and their release officially welcomes the holiday season for many wine enthusiasts. These French Gamay wines are released to market on the third Thursday of each November, and “Beaujolais Nouveau Day” is celebrated worldwide.
These are the first French wines to be released to market every year, and they are characterized by their light body, fruity flavors, and supreme drinkability. While tasting notes vary slightly each season, Beaujolais Nouveau is always a safe pairing for French Onion Soup.
The established publication Wine Spectator has devoted an entire portion of their “8 & $20” series to this particular combination. Author Nick Fauchald highlights 8 different wine pairing options in an article named “Matchmaker: French Onion Soup and Beaujolais Nouveau.”
Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau is the most popular and widely distributed bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau that is available for purchase all over the world. Many wine enthusiasts are well aware of how well the light body and fruity flavors of the wine balance out the heavy soup.
Jean-Paul Brun Domaine des Terres Dorees Beaujolais Nouveau L’Ancien is a “more serious” and high end bottle of Nouveau that makes for an ideal French onion soup wine pairing. The light body does not interfere with the rich flavors of the soup while still providing fruit flavor.
There are 10 different production areas that are of high enough quality to have been awarded “Cru” designation, and each of them produces a slightly different version of Gamay wine. All of these Beaujolais Crus are quite affordable, making it possible to explore all 10 on a budget.
The 10 Crus of Beaujolais are considered to be the highest quality representations of the Gamay grape in the entire world, and each of them make for fantastic pairings with French onion soup. These wines carry refined and layered flavors of red fruit which shine on the palate.
French onion soup can be a bit rich and full on the palate, which makes the bright red fruit flavors of Beaujolais such a refreshing change of pace during meals. Wine Folly has included this specific combination on their highly informative “Delicious Wines to Pair With Soup” guide.
Yvon Metras Fleurie is one of the most established and highly respected bottless of Gamay from the Cru of Fleurie, which is known to produce particularly light and crisp representations of the Beaujolais style of wine that make for perfect pairings with many heavy soup dishes.
Château des Bachelards Comtesse de Vazeilles Saint-Amour is another Beaujolais wine that has received high marks from important wine critics, and offers all the delicious tasting notes of the region in a refined wine with a light body and clean finish.
Pinot Noir is one of the most popular wine grapes in the entire world, and it produces light bodied red wines that are full of refined layers of flavor. The tasting notes present in Pinot Noir wines are often compared to tart red fruits such as cranberry, cherry, and raspberry.
Pinot Noir makes for a fantastic French onion soup wine pairing for the same reasons as Gamay. Both red wines are light and refined, though Pinot Noir is thought of by many wine experts to have a “higher ceiling” in terms of both quality level and age-worthiness.
Drink and pair is a website that is primarily dedicated to compiling some of the best food and wine pairings on earth into easy to read guides. They recommend a quality bottle of Pinot Noir in the $35 and up range for soup pairing in their “French Onion Soup & Wine Pairing” guide.
Domaine Daniel Rion & Fils Vosne-Romanee is one of the best bottles of Pinot Noir in the world that can be purchased for under $100 per bottle. It is full of bright red fruit flavors and features a light and crisp body that works to break up the heavy soup flavors on the palate.
Black Cottage Pinot Rosé is a unique bottle of pink wine from the Marlborough region of New Zealand that is made using Pinot Noir. It is very crisp and light in body with a clean finish, which makes it a perfect option for serving alongside the heaviest and richest French onion soups.
Viogner is a fairly full bodied French white wine grape that may come as a surprise when it comes to pairing with French onion soup for some wine enthusiasts. While it is usually best to choose lighter bodied wines for this purpose, Viogner is an exception to the rule.
The Viogner grape is bursting with bright and refreshing acidity, which plays well with the deep and earthy flavors of the French onion soup. The grape also contains natural flavors that many report to be similar to apricots, which offers a quick burst of flavor for fatigued palates.
While warm weather regions of new world wine producing countries like Australia and the United States have embraced this white wine grape, the best and most famous bottles of Viogner are produced in its home country of France, particularly in the Condrieu region.
Guigal Condrieu is an affordable and widely distributed bottle of Viogner that is full of bright acidity and light fruity tasting notes. It has received a gold medal at the International Wine Challenge, and makes for one of the best possible white wine pairings with French onion soup.
Chateau-Grillet is a high end bottle of Viogner that is considered by many wine experts and sommeliers to be one of the best in the world. It offers incredible balance and many layers of refined flavors that intrigue even the most experienced pallets.
Dolcetto is a dark skinned Italian wine grape that translates to “The Little Sweet One” in English. While the wine grape is naturally sweet, the wines it produces are usually dry and sweet with deep flavors of earth and spices and a medium to light body.
Dolcetto wines are produced almost exclusively in the country of Italy, and some of the best and most famous examples hail from the Dolcetto d’Alba region that was specifically named for the production of these interesting and versatile food friendly wines.
What makes Dolcetto such a great pairing when it comes to French onion soup is its combination of deef fruit flavors and straightforward light body. These unique Italian wines offer incredible quality at a reasonable price point that is usually under $50 per bottle.
Bruno Giacosa Dolcetto d’Alba is one of the most famous bottles of Dolcetto in the world, and it offers both deep fruit flavors and incredible balance for a refined red wine that pairs well with a variety of different soup options.
Giuseppe Rinaldi Dolcetto d’Alba is another very popular bottle of this unique Italian red wine that can be found at upscale restaurants and wine retailers. It makes for a great French onion soup pairing as it provides structured flavor without overpowering the palate.
Pairing wine with French onion soup can be as simple as picking a light bodied wine with subtle and clean tasting notes. Gamay wines from the French region of Beaujolais make for fantastic options, though many other styles of wine can also make great pairing candidates.
Feel free to leave a comment below if you have found a style of wine that works particularly well when paired with French onion soup, and let other wine enthusiasts in on your favorite combinations!