Top pairings | The best food pairings for cabernet franc

Top pairings

The best food pairings for cabernet franc

Cabernet franc can be the most food-friendly of wines, as good with fish and veggies as it is with meat but as I pointed out in a recent Guardian column it comes in several styles.

If you’re looking for a food match for cabernet franc I’d be mainly thinking of the lighter more fragrant Loire type which stars on its own in such appellations as Saumur, Saumur-Champigny, Bourgeuil, St Nicolas de Bourgeuil and Chinon. Even then it can vary from vintage to vintage and from lighter wines to more serious oak-aged examples. It can also be used to make rosé and sparkling wine but I’m not focussing on those in this post

It also plays a major part in Bordeaux blends including some of the most famous Bordeaux reds such as Cheval Blanc and in South America where it is generally riper and more full-bodied.

If you’re looking for a match for Bordeaux blends check out this post

What food to pair with red Bordeaux

Fresh young Loire cabernet franc

Young cabernet franc has a distinctly herbal quality and tends to pair well with dishes flavoured with herbs, especially dill, fennel, rosemary and tarragon. Think chicken with herbs like roast chicken with herby crème fraîche or this lavash, chicken and herb pie with barberries, both from Olia Hercules, a herb-crusted rack of lamb or a navarin of lamb

It also has an affinity with green vegetables especially when they’re grilled or roasted - such as grilled asparagus (as you can see here), purple sprouting broccoli and even grilled artichokes. If you’ve got a vegetarian dish of spring vegetables such as asparagus, peas and broad beans you should reach for a bottle. And while it wouldn’t be my first choice with a spanakopita (Greek-style spinach pie) - I’d rather drink a crisp white - it would definitely work.

Pair it with herby Ottolengi-ish salads with bulgur, freekeh or other grains, especially with a herb dressing.

Evan Goldstein in his book Daring Pairings suggests enchiladas verdes, a combination I haven’t tried but I can definitely see would work. Anything with a tomatillo salsa too.

Like gamay, Loire cabernet franc also works well with charcuterie especially terrines and patés

Lightly chilled it can be a really useful pairing for fish, especially grilled tuna or salmon

It’s also good with goats cheese, young pecorino and other young sheep cheeses

and like Beaujolais you can pour it over or drink it with strawberries

More mature oak aged Loire cabernet franc

I’d be thinking of lamb again though maybe slow roast shoulder or a butterflied leg of lamb rather than rosy little lamb cutlets. Steak frites too.

I’d be more inclined to go for duck than chicken and feathered game such as pigeon (squab) pheasant and partridge

It would also work with light offal dishes such as kidneys or sweetbreads. Classic French bistro food.

Riper, more full-bodied cabernet franc from countries such as Argentina, California and South Africa

These behave quite like malbec in terms of wine pairing so red meat, especially steak, is an obvious go to. You could easily drink it with a barbecue including spicy sausages such as chorizo and merguez or with kebabs.

Image by VICUSCHKA at

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