French onion soup wine pairing

Published December 12th, 2022

Onion soup or 'soupe a l'oignons' is a classic dish of the French tradition, which has become one of the best-known recipes in the world.

French onion soup wine pairing.

Versatile and tasty, this soup has very ancient origins, as it was already widespread in ancient Rome, where it was especially appreciated by gladiators for its firming properties.

But there are a huge amount of guesses about the origin of the current recipe. It is said that it was Louis XV who invented it during a night hunger attack in his hunting lodge. According to another legend instead, the recipe was presented by Chef Nicolas Appert to the Duke of Lorraine during a stop at the hotel "La Pomme d'Or" while he was traveling to Versailles to meet Louis XV.

Others assume that the dish (or a version thereof) is actually of Tuscan origin, served at the wedding lunch between Caterina de Medici and King Henry II of Orleans in 1533.

Probably we will not be able to find an answer to the questions about its origin in this article, but we will give an overview of the main features of this delicious dish and the best french onion soup wine pairing to enjoy it at its best!

French onion soup wine pairing: the basics.

French onion soup wine pairing: the basics

Traditionally served in steaming-looking terracotta cocotte, the onion soup is a succulent dish with a soft and melting texture. In addition to abundant onions, this recipe calls for butter and grated gruyere cheese in particular, as well as croutons to accompany it.

The pungency of the onions is softened with cooking in favor of delicate sweetness, especially if you choose the traditional French golden onions, which have firm pulp and a pleasant smell. The cheese and the butter add substance and richness to the dish, balancing the flavors.

So, when picking the best wine to go with french onion soup, it is essential to choose something that is not too delicate in aromas and structure as it may be overwhelmed by the intense flavors of the onions. Acidity may also be of good use as it can cut through the significant fat component of this dish.

For these reasons, white wine is often the first choice for an onion soup wine pairing, but red wines can also work extremely well, especially if medium-bodied and not excessively aged.

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Best wine with French onion soup - Viognier.

Best wine with French onion soup

As usual in wine and food pairings, there is no single answer. There are always so many factors to consider, not least your own personal taste that influences the choice.

As a general rule, we believe that the best wine pairing with french onion soup is Viognier, which offers the right structure, aromas, and acidity to accompany this delicious French dish. And, if you want to treat yourself, choose a Condrieu wine.

Our suggestion: Delas Condrieu La Galopine

Red wine pairing with French onion soup

To create a balanced wine pairing with onion soup, the intense flavors of the dish need complementary aromas and congruent earthy, mineral, and herbaceous notes.

If you prefer red wine, the main rule to follow is to choose a wine that has light tannins and that is not too alcoholic as it may otherwise overpower the dish. The best choice will be a young red that is not too full-bodied and has good acidity to support and clean up the creaminess of the melted cheese and the beef broth base.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is the ideal red wine pairing for french onion soup. Its fresh fragrance of red fruits and undergrowth notes can complement the sweetness of caramelized onions. While the mushroom and truffle notes are a good match with the rustic character of the soup. The lively acidity and velvety tannins make the wine subtle and fresh to balance the fatness of the dish without overwhelming it in structure.

Better to choose a juicy and young Pinot Noir, like a wine from the New World, perhaps from a country with a cold climate that guarantees good acidity supported by fruity notes.

Our suggestion: Failla Willamette Valley Pinot Noir


The onion soup is a tasty dish with well-defined flavors but a delicate structure and it is essential to combine it with a wine that is not too full-bodied or very alcoholic and does not overwhelm the food.

The ideal is therefore a fresh, lively, and fruity wine with a good dose of acidity such as Beaujolais. The brilliant acidity of Gamay is able to enhance the flavor of the soup, cleansing the palate of the fatness of the cheese. The bright flavors of cherry, raspberry, plum, and strawberry pick up the sweetness of the onion. And the moderate alcohol content of Beaujolais is ideal for not overwhelming the harmonious texture of the soup with too much heat. 

Our suggestion: Joseph Drouhin Beaujolais Villages


Dolcetto is a simple and expressive wine with a well-balanced freshness and a delicious intensity of floral and fruity aromas and flavors that express all its character. On the palate, it is crisp and dry with a medium body and light tannins.

Although the acidity of the wine is not high, it is still sufficient to balance the fatness of the dish and the moderate alcohol value is perfect for its delicacy. The gentle final note of bitterness typical of Dolcetto is the perfect counterpart to the sweetness of the soup and the fruity aromas of the wine can enhance the flavors of this hearty dish in harmony.

Our suggestion: Dogliani DOCG "Briccolero", Biologico, Chionetti

Côtes du Rhône

Côtes du Rhône is a medium-bodied red wine from the Rhône Valley in southern France. Produced mainly from Grenache grapes, this red with its fruity character and earthy notes is very suitable for simple traditional and peasant recipes such as French onion soup.

The lively raspberry and strawberry flavors typical of the Côtes du Rhône provide a nice contrast to the savory richness of the French onion soup. The spicy notes of black pepper and herbs complement the rusticity of the onions. The medium body and good acidity complete this tasty combination that is definitely worth a try.

Our suggestion: Côte du Rhône Rouge “Les Argiles”, Domaine Raymond Usseglio

White wine for French onion soup

To appreciate this dish at its true value, it is important to find a wine that will delight your taste buds! If you want to play it safe, pick a white wine.

It will require plenty of freshness to counterbalance the fat of the cheese, a certain roundness to temper the pungency and delicate sweetness of the onion, and a balanced strength in alcohol to oppose the salty nuances.


Viognier is a white grape variety of French origin that produces medium-bodied wines that can create a surprising pairings with a French onion soup. Viognier-based wines have a bright, refreshing acidity that pairs well with the deep, rustic flavors of French onion soup. Thanks to the stone fruit aromas typical of Viognier and its roundness which are ideal for balancing the flavors of this substantial dish, this can be considered as the best French onion soup white wine pairing.

Viognier has now become an international grape and is grown all over the world but French wines offer an elegance and balance more suited to the soup.

Our suggestion: Domaine de la Janasse Principaute d'Orange Viognier

Pinot Gris

Why not choose an Alsace Pinot Gris to enhance this dish? This dry white wine is defined by its structure, elegance, and its pronounced and variegated bouquet. A beautiful tension and incredible freshness temper its aromatic power by combining smoky notes and dried fruit, apricot, honey, beeswax, and gingerbread.

The match between this supple wine and onion soup will create a harmonious balance between power and freshness.

Our suggestion: Lucien Albrecht Pinot Gris Cuvee Romanus

Oaked Chardonnay

Chardonnay is one of the most popular white wines in the world and is produced practically everywhere with different styles that offer great versatility in combinations with food. Chardonnays that are aged in oak have everything you need for a great pairing with an onion soup.

The fruity aromas of the Chardonnay combine well with the nutty notes of the gruyere cheese. The toasted, buttery flavors can enhance the full-bodied richness of French onion soup and the croutons it's served with.

In addition, a Chardonnay will be able, with its acidity and liveliness, to counteract the salty and fat content of the dish by cutting the pungency of the onion. It will bring a lot of freshness while resisting the strong flavors without being  overwhelmed.

Our suggestion: Parducci Small Lot Chardonnay


With the arrival of the cold season, there is nothing better than a good soup. Onion soup in its classic French version is real goodness, enriched by the fatness of the butter and cheese and the caramelization of the onions.

Choosing the best french onion soup wine pairing, as we have seen, is not complicated. Just pay attention to the characteristics of the dish, let yourself be guided by our advice and choose your favorite wine!

Photo credits Cleavers