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If there’s one skill that comes close to matching the excellence of French winemaking, it’s French gastronomy. Paul Williamson, Trainee Manager of Majestic Wine Woking, dips into the gourmet lifestyle to look at some of the best pairings.

France is a country of regions, and nothing portrays the nuances of regional variation quite like wine styles and traditional cuisines. While it may not be the birthplace of wine, many regard France as its spiritual home, as it’s where winemaking first became diversified, refined and regarded as an expression of cultural identity.

This development is reflected in the history of French cuisine, whose dishes proudly represent their humble, regional origins but have been immortalised as classics.

Here at Majestic, we’re equally proud of our broad range of great-value wines from all over France – the perfect accompaniment to those classic regional dishes.

Cassoulet

La Vieille Capitelle 2009, Côteaux du Languedoc
£7.99 or £5.99 when you buy 2 bottles
This is one of my favourites – a slow-cooked, rich stew of beans and meats that screams out for a substantial red. So try this classic Languedoc blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Carignan from Gérard Bertrand, the ex-international rugby player with a steadily growing winemaking reputation. He seems to have got the balance of this blend spot on here, with subtle cassis and herbs on the nose and lashings of dark fruit on the palate. Great value for money too.

Moules à la Normandie

Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2010/11, Domaine de la Tourmaline
£7.49 or £6.49 when you buy 2 bottles
Muscadet with mussels is a classic match, and this very refreshing wine washes them down to great effect. ‘Sur lie’ means the wine has spent an extended period on its lees, or yeast, developing richer, more complex characters. Ripe fruits on the nose carry through to a rich, creamy texture and tart, crisp finish.

Choucroute Garnie

Riesling 2009/10, Cave de Turckheim
£7.99 or £6.99 when you buy 2 bottles
From one of the best regarded producers in Alsace, this has fresh lemons and apples on the nose with interesting mineral overtones. The palate is dry with citrus fruit flavours and a good finish. Its fruity, dry style and soft acidity make it a dream match for the sweet and sour sauerkraut dish, with all the flavours combining majestically.

Confit de Canard

Château Bessan Ségur 2008, Cru Bourgeois, Médoc
£9.99 or £7.99 when you buy 2 bottles
It’s made throughout France but arguably a speciality of Gascony, which is why I have paired confit duck with a Cru Bourgeois from the Médoc. Unusually for a left bank Bordeaux, it’s a Merlotdominated blend with a soft, fruity, easy-drinking style. Lovely juicy berries and subtle oak characters on the nose, with dark fruit on the palate, soft tannins and a substantial finish. Perfect with that juicy soft meat.

Gratinée de Coquilles St-Jacques

Mâcon-Villages 2010, Domaines des Terres Gentilles
£9.99 or £7.99 when you buy 2 bottles
The delicate seafood flavours and light cheese in this dish could easily be overpowered by a rich wine. Instead, this white Burgundy has delicate citrus aromas and a clean, crisp, citrus and stone-fruit palate. Good acidity helps to cut through the cheese and complement this scallop dish from Brittany perfectly.

Boeuf Bourguignon

Côtes du Rhône 2009/10, Domaine Durieu
£9.99 or £7.99 when you buy 2 bottles
Some people pair Boeuf Bourguignon with a red Burgundy, but such a rich, hearty dish requires a wine with similar richness and a fuller body that Pinot Noir just cannot provide. Domaine Durieu has created a classic Côtes du Rhône here with generous berry fruit on the nose, finishing with hints of peppery spice. There’s plenty of fruit on the palate to enhance the highly flavoursome stew.

Bouillabaisse

Côtes de Provence Sainte Victoire 2010, Famille Negrel
£9.99
This is a classy rosé. Sainte Victoire is a top-quality sub-region in the upper slopes of the Côtes de Provence, where the Famille Negrel has been making wine for seven generations. On the nose this displays classic strawberry and delicate floral notes. The palate is dry, crisp and refreshing – a perfect match for seafood. Cinsault adds a touch of soft spice on the palate that harmonises wonderfully with the herbs and spices on show in this classic fish soup.

Coq au Vin

Mâcon Rouge ‘Les Roches Rouges’ 2009/10, Louis Jadot
£9.99 or £8.99 when you buy 2 bottles
For coq au vin you want a red, but nothing so big that it overpowers the chicken. Gamay or Pinot Noir are perfect for the task, and this, from the grapes heartland of Burgundy, is an incredibly affordable offering from the powerful Beaune-based Louis Jadot. It’s fresh, fruity and young, with delightful raspberry and red cherry aromas carrying through onto the palate and good acidity to match the dish.