French Advice: Garlic Beware

French Advice: Garlic Beware


In southern France during the summer, dentists have been known to close up shop during food festivals featuring aioli. Aioli (ay OH lee) is homemade garlic mayonnaise, and French cooks are not shy in the garlic department. (What’s a dentist to do?) Moreover, the French slather aioli on just about every easy summertime dish from crunchy vegetables to grilled fish. 

Of course, dentists aren’t the only professional “casualties.” Winemakers are worried too because raw garlic has a stridency and pungency that can make the accompanying wine taste bitter or hollow. Worst of all, garlic today is not your grandmother’s garlic. It’s bred to be even more powerful. So: say goodbye to a slew of good wines? Not quite.

The French have two simple ways of taming the aggressiveness of garlic (thereby keeping dentists and winemakers fully employed and happy). First, the French create a rounder, softer, more mellow garlic flavor by poaching the garlic before they use it in a recipe. Poaching garlic is as simple as dropping the cloves (skins still on) in boiling water for a minute. Not only will the skins slip off far more easily, but the flavor of the garlic will be infinitely more wine friendly. Second, they serve garlicky dishes with bold dry rosé wines. The fruitiness of rosé, plus a rosé’s crisp acidity, act as a cushion and counterbalance to the punch of even the most garlicky dish.

Give it a try and see for yourself. Here’s a simple aioli recipe and we love these two dry roses--one still; one sparkling--which are great all summer long (garlic or not): OJAI Rosé from California and GRUET Sparkling Rosé from New Mexico. 

Do you have a favorite garlic-friendly wine? Tell us below!

Photo Credit: VinhosdeProvence

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