The Best Type Of Wine To Use In Traditional French Onion Soup

In the cozy realm of comfort foods, few dishes hold as much allure as the rich, soul-warming embrace of French onion soup. With its caramelized onions, savory broth, and gooey melted cheese, each spoonful is a symphony of flavors for the palate. But when it comes to selecting a good red wine to elevate this classic dish, not all varietals are created equal. While you don't need to overthink the selection, it is important to avoid some.

First, this is not the time or place for sweet wines. While they may be delightful for sipping, their overly sugary nature can overwhelm the delicate balance of flavors in French onion soup, tipping the scales towards cloying rather than comforting.

So, what red wines are traditionally used in this beloved recipe? Look no further than the classic French wines coming from Burgandy. These dry, medium-bodied wines bring a depth of flavor and complexity that harmonizes beautifully with the savory sweetness of the caramelized onions, enhancing rather than overpowering the dish. 

"Any red wine can be substituted in a pinch, but whatever wine you use will impart significant flavor to the dish," Nathaniel Lee, the recipe developer behind Tasting Table's easy French onion soup, said. "I would not recommend very heavy or sweet wines like zinfandel, merlot, or syrah, unless those taste profiles are specifically desired."

Reach for a relatively dry red wine

The world of red wine is vast and varied, offering a treasure trove of options to explore beyond the traditional picks. For French onion soup, consider reaching for a red wine with spice notes, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir. These varietals add a subtle kick of pepper and earthiness that play well with the soup's rich flavors.

Keep in mind to choose a wine that not only will work well within the soup, but that is one you enjoy sipping. The wine you use will contribute plenty of flavor to the overall dish in the end.

What makes these dry, medium-bodied red wines with spice notes such ideal companions for French onion soup? It all comes down to balance. The subtle sweetness of the onions finds its match in the fruit-forward notes of the wine, while the spice adds depth and complexity without taking away from the signature taste of the dish. The result is a marriage of flavors that create a wonderful balance of complementary aromatics with each spoonful.

So, the next time you find yourself craving the comforting embrace of French onion soup, don't forget to reach for the perfect bottle of red wine to cook into the comfort food. Whether you stick with tradition and opt for a classic French varietal or venture into new territory with a spicy Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Grenache, one thing's for certain — every bite will be a celebration of flavor, warmth, and timeless culinary tradition.