I’m rarely persuaded when people say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. How could a meal without wine lay claim to that title? An exception might be when the breakfast is based around wine, and when that wine comes from some of the most outstanding producers in Napa Valley. It also doesn’t hurt if the breakfast takes place at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence and is hosted by Dorie Greenspan.

Yesterday’s breakfast, 10am

My grueling task was to evaluate pairings between these Napa Valley wines and different French foods. Were the golden gougères, mixed by Dorie’s own hand, the best pairing for the Honig Sauvignon Blanc? Or were the crab and sea urchin blinis a better match for the wine’s acidity and tropical notes? It was hard to say without eating four or five of each.

Moving on to the red wines, we were asked to consider pairings between a series of rich blended Cabs (>14% alcohol) and some equally high-octane dishes, including foie gras, garlicky snails, and truffled brie. The plush 2007 Cain Five was lovely with a bite of rouget provençale, and the 2005 Proprietary Blend from Roy Estate was a fruity, full-bodied match for the pistachio-studded pied de cochon.

I wasn’t anticipating to love these reds as much as I did. They didn’t live up (or down) to the “fruit bomb” reputation of California wines. They paired quite beautifully with the food, boasting tannins that were softer and more rounded than many Bordeaux wines of similar age. The downside of this new-found appreciation is that there are very few opportunities to drink Napa Valley wines in Paris. When I shared this concern with the group, another guest named Gaetan Turner invited us to stop by his boutique called Comptoir des Andes to learn about additional American and other New World wines at one of their Saturday tastings. Sounds like another solid breakfast plan.

It’s hard to say how much of my new infatuation for Napa wines had simply to do with the setting itself…

… but I was in any case thrilled to be invited, and to be able to offer free tickets to seventeen other lucky readers of Paris by Mouth. Thanks to Jaime Arujo for organizing, to chef Yves Roquel for the delicious breakfast fare, and to our delightful host Dorie Greenspan, who just won the IACP’s award for Cookbook of the Year.

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