Consommé is one of the great classics of French cuisine. Though its popularity has declined somewhat, consommé – clarified bouillon of beef or poultry – remains a delicate, savoury dish.  And what season could be better than the heart of winter to appreciate piping hot consommé, though there are also chilled versions which are extremely refreshing in summertime. The ingredients going into consommés and the intensity they deliver are our first clues as to which wines will best accompany them.

Some consommés may contain ravioli, noodles, vegetables, or dice of foie gras. For a successful pairing with consommé that is served warm, the wine has to be served at room temperature. The right match lies in the wine’s ability to work with the persistent flavour of the broth. Quite naturally, we would not select the same wine to go with chicken consommé as we would for beef broth.

Consommé – strengthening the connection between Jura and Spain

With a curried consommé of poultry, I would suggest you choose a 1995 Château-Chalon vin jaune from the Domaine de Jean Macle estate. The utter class of this Château-Chalon illuminates the pairing. Its mineral impression adds depth, and the passage of time has endowed it with great patina on the palate and outstanding persistency, which accompanies the curry with fabulous precision.

“The very special aromatic of this Jerez handles the concentration of the beef consommé magnificently.”

With a double consommé of beef, you can look to a 30-year old Jerez Amontillado from Bodegas Tradicion. This small estate produces just 30,000 bottles a year all together, in all the categories it makes. Its Amontillado is, in actual matter of fact, 45 years old. It spent 12 years underneath the flor film and the remainder of its life in controlled oxidation. This Jerez Amontillado releases very special aromatics with dried fruit mingling with spices and a hint of caramel. This gorgeous rancio is sublimated by great persistency on the palate and blissful bitters. The sotolon present (molecule responsible for aroma compounds of curry, yeast, hazelnut, walnut) works its magic with the concentrated nature of the beef broth. This wine has only 3.4 g of residual sugar per litre.

A consommé of hare with ravioli of foie gras calls for a 1964 Frasqueiras Sercial Madeira wine from Henriques & Henriques. Ageing on natural wood referred to as Canteiro, gives rise to Frasqueiras.  Although the Sercial is the driest member of the family of Madeira wines, it retains a hint of sweetness which mellows with time. The complexity of this wine is utterly seductive. Nuances of toasted sesame, spice and precious woods give it amazing range. Food and wine play off each other endlessly on the palate, the match is both persistent and delicious.

Last but far from least, with a consommé of jumbo shrimp and ginger, I draw your attention to a Manzanilla Classic from Bodegas Rey Fernando de Castilla. The Fino de Manzanilla is now only made in the Andalusian village of Sanlucar de Barrameda. Legislation requires that the wines remain at least two years under flor, however this cuvée spends 5 years under the veil of flor. The result is a very complex range with peaks of hazelnut, spice, hints of rancid butter and a final touch of iodine.  On the palate, it is superbly sapid with outstanding acidity that creates good tension.

La Revue du Vin de France, February 2018