Our Expert Recommends These 14 French Wines To Drink During The Paris Summer Olympics 2024

The summer Olympics are rapidly approaching, and this time around, the city at the heart of it all is Paris. The last time the City of Lights hosted the Summer Games was a century ago, and France has not been an Olympic destination in over 30 years. It's undoubtedly an exciting time for the city's inhabitants, as well as all those who have fallen in love with Paris' timeless charm. Whether you're traveling to experience it all in person or hosting Olympic watch parties with your friends, food and wine are sure to be part of the experience.

To help you plan for the occasion, I've come up with the best wines to pair with a selection of sporting events. As a certified specialist of wine, I looked for options that would best accompany the various Olympic events, highlighting overlapping characteristics while having fun with the pairings. To be clear, only French wines feature in the assortment, as it's the perfect excuse to take a deep dive into the country's wide range of grape varieties and regional styles. Of course, you'll want to come up with a menu to pair with your choices, too.

There are the obligatory bottles that pop as well as classic and remarkable options well worth tasting. Whether you choose what to watch based on the wine recommendation or vice versa, there's no doubt you'll enhance the Olympic festivities with one of these French wines.

1. Basketball with Pineau d'Aunis

Some wine pairings are simply meant to be, and producer Les Athlètes du Vin guarantees there's just one bottle to serve while watching basketball: Pineau d'Aunis. Made up of a small group of winemakers sourcing their grapes from several vineyards in the Loire Valley, Les Athlètes du Vin proves that working with a team is a sure path to success. Much like a winning game of basketball requires nonstop collaboration, this small-scale producer demonstrates the same.

This bottle features a basketball player on the label, making this choice hard to argue. Still, there's more to it than a simple game of matching up images and words. Pineau d'Aunis is relatively uncommon, yet what it lacks in popularity it more than makes up for in flavor. A sprightly pepperiness and hint of spice accompanies each sip, with bold red fruit flavors to smooth it out. Mimicking the bounce of a basketball contrasted with the swoosh as it flies into the net, this pairing is sure to delight.

2. Gymnastics with gamay

Rhythmic and artistic gymnastics prove that strength, grace, and poise come together with stellar results. Both agility and stamina are key characteristics of the sport, culminating in impressive feats seemingly befitting a superhero. Gamay hasn't always been appreciated, as evidenced by a 14th-century duke who demanded all vines be pulled out in Burgundy. Thankfully, the grape now grows in Beaujolais, where it produces a diverse range of wine styles.

You'll find young gamay sold as Beaujolais nouveau mere weeks following harvest, as well as more serious bottles of Beaujolais crus made with vines grown in granite soils. Although the latter are bolder with more complexity, gamay boasts delicate floral notes with hints of earth and spice on the palate. It is both elegant and playful, much like many of the gymnastics routines you'll be watching in awe.

Pick up a bottle of Côte de Brouilly by Alex Foillard, the son of one of Beaujolais' most esteemed producers. With notes of blackberry jam, dried plums, and mushrooms, this robust gamay evokes the juxtaposition of vigor and finesse that's integral to the sport of gymnastics.

3. Artistic swimming with Jura chardonnay

Swimming at the Olympics takes on several forms, but the one that pairs most naturally with wine is artistic. Unlike races and relays, speed isn't the primary aim. Instead, poise, form, and teamwork come into play, along with music to accompany the choreography. There's something classic yet novel about this dazzling display, as it mimics dance and gymnastics in a different setting. A bottle of chardonnay from the alpine region of Jura makes an excellent match for this sport.

Chardonnay is one of the most consumed wine grapes in the world, and it is quick to take on characteristics from the regions where it grows, much like a chameleon. In Jura, it is notably complex, with layers of nuttiness, minerality, and spice intermingled with the typical fruit notes. Try a bottle of Les Pieds sur Terre Chardonnay Les Trouillots by winemaker Valentin Morel for a taste of this expressive style. Smooth and crisp with an acidity that's as refreshing as a dip in the pool, this wine is an obvious sidekick as you view the various artistic swimming routines.

4. Archery with Sancerre

Archery requires utmost precision to hit the target straight on. Whereas some wines slowly open on your palate, introducing themselves with gentle ease or bold tannins that fade away to reveal the complexities beneath, Sancerre is sharp and direct. It's also extremely identifiable, making it that much easier to pinpoint in the glass. Produced in the Loire Valley in the region of the same name, this zingy white wine is made with sauvignon blanc grapes.

Zesty and flinty with notes of citrus, gooseberry, green apple, peach, and grass, this French white wine is a classic option. A bottle of Sancerre by Langlois-Chateau is sure to give you a fine taste for this style of sauvignon blanc. The winery is part of the Bollinger Group of the iconic Bollinger Champagne, guaranteeing only the top quality of production. Green apple, tart peach, straw, lemongrass, and fresh herbs dance on the palate, initiating a mouthwatering reaction that's hard to resist.

5. Beach volleyball with Provence rosé

Rosé is always the answer when it comes to beach day sipping, making it the perfect pairing for the Olympics' beach volleyball games. Not only is Provence the best place in France to look for rosé, but it's also the benchmark style for many rosé wine drinkers and producers. The pale salmon hue exudes delicate aromas with floral notes and hints of red berries and citrus. Its refreshingly dry nature makes rosé an all-around winner on a hot summer day, whether you're enjoying a meal on a patio or lounging at the beach.

You'll want to make sure to appropriately chill your bottle of rosé to highlight the light body and medium acidity that make it so palatable. There are endless Provence rosés on the market, including popular bestsellers like Whispering Angel. That said, if you're looking for a stellar bottle made from a dedicated team run by a husband-and-wife duo, look to Domaine de Sulauze. The organic and biodynamic vineyards place the Provençal terroir front and center, highlighting its unique nature and suitability for lively wines. Try a bottle of Pomponette, made with a blend of grenache, cinsault, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, mourvèdre, and vermentino grapes, for a fresh and fruity take.

6. Cycling with Vouvray

There are plenty of events for fans of cycling at the Olympics, whether you enjoy track, mountain, road, or BMX. Endurance and speed are important features of the competition, while the terrain adds an element of variability that can entirely change the course. Meanwhile, BMX freestyle introduces creativity into the picture, highlighting the versatility of the sport. Similarly, the Vouvray appellation in the Loire Valley is anything but uniform.

The chenin blanc grape is the star player, and it is vinified in dry, medium dry, sweet, and sparkling styles. With its aromatic nature and zingy acidity, it's the perfect contender to pair with cycling in all its variations. Take your pick of style based on the mood, and you're sure to be satisfied. For a refreshingly dry wine to sip on as you watch the cyclists work their magic, reach for a bottle of Domaine de la Rouletiere Vouvray Sec Les Calcaires. Aromas of green apple, peach, and spice mingle with salty back notes for a deliciously rich and zesty result.

7. Diving with Alsace pinot blanc

Diving is a fascinating sport to watch at the Olympics, as it offers a glimpse into what it might be like to fly. In incredible feats of skill and artistry, athletes swoop through the air with precision. Although it requires a certain lightness to take flight, there is far more depth to the process. Similarly, at first sip, pinot blanc might seem like a light-bodied wine with fresh aromas, but when you take it all in, a multitude of layers are unearthed.

Notably, pinot blanc from Alsace is at home in the local terroir, ripening to bring out its fruity undertones while maintaining balanced acidity for a crisp palate. The Emile Beyer winery has been around for several centuries, firmly cementing its place in the Alsatian wine scene. Try a bottle of its pinot blanc blended with auxerrois (a common duo that is simply labeled as pinot blanc) for a fine example of Alsace white wine. Aromas of orchard fruits like apple, pear, and peach mingle with a mineral backbone that keeps every sip as lively and spry as an Olympic diver.

8. Rugby with Cahors malbec

Rugby is certainly rough around the edges, yet targeted precision and teamwork are required to pull off a win. And if you stop to observe the various passes, there is something almost artistic about the movement between players. Malbec is an interesting grape with a similar duality. Although it is Argentina's famed red wine grape, it actually comes from Cahors in southwestern France.

Whereas the South American wines are lush and velvety, in France the result is more rugged around the edges, making it an excellent pairing for a rugby match. Hints of leather with a bitter element are present, rounded out with notes of tart dark fruits and spice. It'll soften as the game goes on, giving you the chance to savor it in all its complexity.

Mary Taylor Wine is an American importer that highlights the nuances of European wine regions without the confusion of understanding appellations and finding quality growers and winemakers. Pick up an imported bottle of Cahors malbec by Didier Pelvillain, a low-intervention producer that lets the fruit speak for itself. This malbec has floral and dark fruit notes with a peppery quality that gives it just the right kick to stand up to a game of rugby.

9. Rowing with Chinon

Watching a rowing team glide along a body of water is pretty mesmerizing. With everyone moving in unison to propel the boat forward, the effect is impressive. There's an element of robustness to the sport, yet the oars need to pierce the water smoothly to ensure maximum speed and the correct direction of motion. Several aspects need to occur at once, similarly to optimal production of some wine grapes, like cabernet franc.

Whereas the grape can be overly green and vegetal with obvious aromas of green pepper and a bitterness, it can also evoke a fruitier profile with a bright acidity. In Chinon in the Loire Valley, it's the best of both worlds, combining a balanced herbal nature with red fruits and a hint of spice. Sip it while you view the rowing competition for a savory accompaniment. A bottle of Domaine Grosbois La Cuisine de ma Mère is sure to inspire your love of cabernet franc. With subtle floral aromas and juicy red fruits paired with herbs, this wine is enjoyable to savor as you observe the rowers doing their magic.

10. Triathlon with Champagne

Triathlon athletes are an impressive bunch, racking up the miles as they swim, cycle, and run to the finish line. It's a feat of endurance and stamina, culminating with a 10-kilometer run that the average person would be hard-pressed to complete. To celebrate the glory, it has to be a bottle of Champagne. Chilled and popped open at the finish line, nothing says congratulations quite like a glass of bubbly. Although you probably won't be simultaneously competing in your own triathlon, you might as well get in the spirit.

While sparkling wine alternatives to Champagne are a great option for everyday occasions, an Olympic triathlon deserves the very best, and there many types of Champagne to choose from. Pick something unique from a small-scale grower Champagne producer, or go with one of the larger Champagne houses for tradition. If you're in the mood for rosé bubbles, Champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé is a fine choice, with notes of red berries and citrus. Meanwhile, for a classic take, Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée is an all-around winner, boasting notes of nutty brioche, apple, and warm spice with a refreshing palate.

11. Equestrian with Bandol red

Olympic equestrian events have been held since ancient Greece, highlighting the longevity of the sport. With various components such as jumps, artistic movements, and cross-country competitions, today, it unites athletes and animals in a way no other activity does. To pair with this enduring sport, an equally long-living wine is a worthy accompaniment. Bandol in Southern France is revered for its complex and weighty red wines, primarily made with the mourvèdre grape, as well as cinsault and grenache.

The velvety texture and layered aromas are luscious and bold, offering a gourmet experience in the glass. The wines are full-bodied with high tannins, giving them a notable structure that is all the more appealing. Domaine Tempier is an iconic winery in Bandol, known for its ageable wines. Get your hands on a red blend such as Cuvée La Migoua, brimming with savory notes of spice, black olives, licorice, and ripe fruit, as you sit back and enjoy another wonder of nature.

12. Fencing with Bordeaux red

Fencing brings to mind a sense of ancient traditions, having evolved over centuries while being a recurring event since the start of the modern Olympic Games in 1896. Yet although it has transformed in some ways, in others it still clings to its classical past and rich heritage. Most French wines carry a similarly layered past filled with customs, but perhaps the best example of them all is Bordeaux. With the same prized estates that were determined in the 1855 classification, tradition reigns.

Bordeaux wines are also esteemed for their age-worthiness, making them that much more long-standing. While you could purchase a bottle and cellar it until the next Summer Olympics or beyond, there are also plenty of styles that are ready to drink. La Sirène de Giscours from the Margaux appellation is an elegant wine that can be savored in its youth as well as over time. Made with a cabernet sauvignon-dominant blend, along with merlot and cabernet franc, it showcases Bordeaux in all its splendor. With silky tannins and concentrated dark fruit, getting your hands on this delightful wine is worth a duel.

13. Surfing with Blanquette de Limoux

There's a lot more to surfing than just catching a wave, and the Olympic event should tame any doubts that it's only meant for beach bums. Tricks and overall agility are part of the skills required to win at the Games. You'll be hard-pressed to be anything but in awe once you watch the surfers doing their thing. To pair with this beachy sport, a bottle of bubbly with a pleasant mousse is up to par.

Opt for something light and vibrant with a bottle of Blanquette de Limoux from Southern France. Although Champagne gets most of the international buzz, Blanquette de Limoux is understood to be the first sparkling wine made in France. Primarily made with the local mauzac grape, as well as small proportions of chardonnay and chenin blanc, this bubbly is bright and refreshing. Try a bottle of Blanquette de Limoux Brut Nature Pif Paf by Face B, which features a lively citrus aroma and nutty finish. With its sunny notes and foamy palate, this wine is a perfect match for a day of surfing ... or just watching surfers.

14. Wrestling with Châteauneuf-du-Pape

There's a certain brute nature to the sport of wrestling, drawing on its Greco-Roman influences as well as in modern variations. Focus and precision are key to the discipline, as each wrestler takes on their opponent both physically and mentally. This intense sport requires a wine with equal weight, and a Châteauneuf-du-Pape red blend stands up to the challenge.

These wines typically feature varying proportions of grenache, syrah, and mourvèdre, though 13 grapes in total must be present in at least minute amounts. The result is decidedly complex, with rich aromas of dark fruit, red berries, spice, licorice, leather, and more. For a suitable pairing to watch the wrestlers engage in combat, try a bottle of Saint Cosme Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The full-bodied wine coats your palate with ripe fruit, dried herbs, spice, and smooth tannins. The flavor is bold and prominent, yet still juicy and lively enough to taste bright with each sip.