Ask the Somm: Your Wine Questions Answered

Embark on a vinous journey with Jean-Michel Deluc, a Master Sommelier renowned for his expertise in French wines. 

Ask the Somm

Unlock the secrets of the wine world with answers to your questions, whether you're a wine novice or a connoisseur. Master Sommelier Jean-Michel Deluc, the founder of Le Petit Ballon, shares his wealth of expertise on serving, tasting, and pairing French wines. 

Serving and Tasting French Wines


What is the ideal temperature to serve wine? 

For champagne, sparkling wines and sweet wines, aim for around 8°C (47°F). 
For dry wines, white wines and rosé wines, should be between 10°C (50°F) and 12°C (54°F). 
Light red wines are best served between 14°C (57°F) and 16°C (60°F), while full-bodied reds shine around 18°C (64°F). 
Never serve a wine over 18°C (64°F).  


Why do you carafe the wine? 

Decanting wine smoothes it out – which is perfect for young wines. A carafe can age a wine one or two years quickly. Be cautious with old wines, don’t automatically put them in a carafe!  


What is the best way to taste wine? 

The ideal time is in the morning when you're rested. Find a quiet, well-lit place without noise or perfume. 

Wine & Food Pairings 


What can you pair rosé wines with? 

Rosé pairs well with many dishes, from fish to meat. Rosé wines have a rich history; initially, all wines were white or rosé. For a while, it is true that they didn’t have a very good reputation because there were often made with whatever was bad for reds. However, today France produces fantastic rosé wines such as Bandol PDO


Which wine should I use for cooking? 

Consider the dish's acidity when choosing a wine for cooking. You don't need to spend a lot; look for acidity to enhance digestibility. 


Which wines should we drink for apéritif? 

Dry white or rosé wines are fashionable for apéritif today. They pair perfectly with small bites or a good French-style cheese and charcuterie board. Personally, I love the Provence rosé wines’ atmosphere – evoking the sea, sun, and beaches… 


What is the best wine for fish and seafood? 

For grilled, steamed, or boiled fish and seafood, opt for white wine with good acidity. For grilled fish or gambas, rosé wine is an excellent choice. 


Which wine pair best with beef? 

Red wine is ideal, but it depends on the beef's preparation. Grilled, medium/rare beef suits a full-bodied red with tannins. Beef in a sauce, like Beef Bourguignon, pairs well with a full-bodied, slightly aged wine. 


What is the best wine with chocolate? 

Pair chocolate with a sweet red wine with oxidation, like Banyuls, Rasteau, Rivesaltes, or Maury. 


What is the best wine to drink with… insects? 

Choose an easy-drinking wine with high acidity to refresh your palate because of the spices insects are usually prepared with. 

Wine Terroirs 


What are the most common French food and wine pairings? 

French wines pair perfectly with local cuisines. Alsatian wines complement Alsatian dishes very well, while Provence and Mediterranean wines are a perfect match with Provençal dishes.


What is the difference between Chardonnay and Muscadet?  

Though both originated in Burgundy, they're different grape varieties. Chardonnay is from the Mâconnais region, while Muscadet (Melon de Bourgogne) is more common in the Loire Valley, near the Atlantic, producing a very dry, simple white wine. 

Sommelier Role 


What is the job of a sommelier? 

A sommelier manages wine service in a restaurant. 


What makes a good sommelier? 

Being sober is the first quality! A good sommelier is honest, passionate, and possesses extensive wine knowledge. 


Why do sommeliers spit? 

Considering I taste between 8,000 and 10,000 wines a year, drinking everything would be a bit much! Spitting ensure sommeliers they can assess wines without getting drunk. 


… Is French wine the best wine? 

Excellent wine requires great land, grapes, climate, and skilled winemakers. France is fortunate to often have all four! 


Interested in learning more about wine? Check out our beginner's guide to French wine

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