Advice for The French Laundry?

Joined Jan 3, 2002
My wife and I will be spending a weekend in March in Napa, and were fortunate enough to reserve a table at The French Laundry.

While I consider myself something of a foodie, I am quite the novice when it comes to pairing wines with food. I understand that The French Laundry does serve some wines by the half-bottle, which would enable us to enjoy a few different wines during the course of the meal. If you have wine suggestions, I'm certainly eager to hear them. I know it is difficult to pair wines with food if you don't know what will be served. If it helps, we'll likely order the nine-course menu, which, if it has not been altered, can be seen here:

I don't expect to be able to dine this extravegantly for quite some time. If you care to share any other advice, I welcome it gladly.

Thank you much.
Joined May 26, 2001
I think you'll be able to ask the sommelier's advice, and get what you would like and can manage, $-wise. Everything I've ever heard and read about The French Laundry says that they are extremely helpful in guiding customers to what the CUSTOMER wants and will enjoy. It always sounds to me like a place with the perfect level of service.

Please tell us about your meal there afterwards. :)
Joined Dec 4, 2001
I've had the pleasure of eating at the French Laundry and I can tell you Joseph, you are in for a very special treat. And like Suzanne says, the food servers are very helpful and will guide you through the wine selection.
I got Thomas Keller's book "The French Laundry" for Christmas and just reading it is almost as good as being there.

Joined Jan 24, 2003
hi joseph

from what i hear & read your in for a treat at the french laundry
its respected worldwide. i wanted to grt the cookbook but at £40.00 its probably cheaper to eat there !.
regarding wine , before cheffing i spent 12 years with europes largest wine wholesaler & am qualified one below master of wine.
the best thing is to listen to the sommelier who will acertain your
spend & suggest accordingly. be careful that the wine bill doesnt exeed the food spend as this becomes inevitable after the first few halve bottles. generally i would recommend shiraz/syrah with spicy. burgundy or bordeux red with game or meat , sauvignon
with fish, chardonnay with chicken, vino de tavola italian
reds with pasta but the combinations are endless and as i said
their sommelier should know his grenoble from his grenache
enjoy your meal please post your opinions im sure there are many who would enjoy reading about your visit to vallhala.


somerset. uk.
Joined Jul 31, 2000
Hi Joseph,

I hope you have a great dining and wine experience.

These are just some idea's off the top of my head but may help.


A dry sparkler or Kabinett




Kabinett or Pinot Noir


Pinot Noir


Soft oaked chardonnay with citrus notes


Pinot Noir or Merlot


Cabernet or meritage



Panna cotta

Barsac or sautern or late harvest riesling



With that said,i'm sure the service staff will be helpful.
Joined Dec 19, 2002
we were there last Thursday. It was a once in a lifetime kind of experience for me. I've never been to any 3-star-type of restaurant, so I have little to compare it with, but it was amazing. Everyone in our group went for the tasting menu, and I think it was a good choice for us (it was different from the one you'll be getting). But as great as the food was, the wine pairings were what put the meal into the stratosphere. I've had a lot of good wine with good food over the years, but nothing like that meal. I was the designated wine geek for the evening, so I ordered most of our wine, but I had a LOT of help from the sommelier. To his credit, he picked up on our tastes very quickly and made several excellent suggestions. We had a group of six, so we had more variety than you're likely to get, but a few of the highlights were as follows:

'79 Baumard Clos de Papillon Savanierres with their butter-poached-oyster-in-tapioca and with a lobster dish. This was incredible wine, but you have to like old Chenin Blanc to enjoy it. If you tend more towards Cal Chardonnay, I'd stay away from it. We loved it, though, and it was amazing with the food. It was also one of the less-expensive wines on the list (but is THAT ever a relative statement! Their wine list is easily the most pricey I've ever seen!)

'00 Zind-Humbrecht Clos Windbuhl Pinot Gris - Also with the above-mentioned seafood and with a halibut dish. Wonderful stuff - lacking a little of the power of the Baumard, but also a little more approachable in its way.

'97 (I think) Clos Erasmus Priorat - Big potent powerful Garnacha that went well with the meat courses - a "pork and beans" dish of pork loin and cassoulet and a beef dish. Intense, smoky wine, maybe a touch oaky but carries it very well.

'97 Querciabella Chianti Classico - with a cheese course. The pairing of the night for me. The cheese was served with a roasted red pepper concoction that was ok with it, but the chianti and the cheese were a phenomenal combination. (In a half bottle).

We had a couple more by the glass as well. Once he figured out what we were into, the sommelier would come by once in a while and ask to pour this or that with the next course. The Querciabella came that way as did a sweet wine (a Cadillac) with a foie gras course.

All in all, a fantastic meal. You won't go wrong with the sommelier's suggestions. Be prepared for some sticker shock (unless you're more familiar with this type of restaurant than I was) but be prepared to have your mind blown by the experience as well!

Have fun!


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