What to Drink with Foie Gras

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What is the best, or most customary, drink to have with fois gras?

One part of your question is easy — the classic accompaniment for foie gras is Sauternes, a full-bodied, sweet white wine that, because of its high acidity, is a good foil for rich foods. Champagne is probably the second choice, both because it also cuts through the richness of the foie gras, and because it, like foie gras, is generally reserved for special occasions.

But — and there's always a but in talking about food and drink — there are several variables that might influence your choice of drink. Michael A. Ginor, who has written the definitive book on foie gras, Foie Gras: A Passion (Canada, UK) dedicates several pages of his coffee-table cookbook to the pairing of wine and foie gras. How the foie gras is prepared — seared, poached, roasted, whipped, or molded into a terrine — greatly affects its texture, Ginor says, and therefore will determine whether you would want a light, medium, or full-bodied wine to go with it.

Similarly, the temperature at which the foie gras is served, and when it is served in a multi-course meal also would influence your choice of wine. Ginor says a foie gras terrine and a chilled glass of Sauternes as a first course would be enough to bring any meal to a screeching halt. "There is nowhere to go from there — winewise," he says. As an afternoon snack or an early evening meal, however, the same combination is absolutely satisfying.

The more than 80 recipes in his book, which come from some of the world's best chefs, each include the chef's suggestion for one or two wines that complement the dish. One observation Ginor makes is that the chefs tended to pick wines that are popular where they live, reinforcing Ginor's primary suggestion that you should pick a wine you like to go with your foie gras. He says when he thinks of foie gras, he automatically thinks of red wine — specifically an aged Bordeaux. But then, he says, he is a red-wine drinker and his favorite wine is Bordeaux. That may not suit everyone and might not be a good pairing for every foie gras dish. But, he says, if you pick a wine you like, you are "halfway toward a good match."

For the teetotalers of the world, there is no classic or definitive drink that accompanies foie gras, but we'd probably choose water.

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