In the Summer months, it turns out, the French love to use garlic the way Americans love to use ketchup (at all times). As you may already know, the French love cooking with garlic anyway (great for the health, bad for the vampires…and the dental hygienists). So what is this special garlic treat for the Summer a la Francaise? It’s a special recipe named Aioli , which is pronounced “ay-OH-lee”. Or, “Le Grand Aïoli”. I know that it’s delicious because, while never having visited France at the time of this writing, I have visited and stayed in Québec City in Canada, twice. It wasn’t Summer, it was May (each time), and in May in Canada it’s still Winter (like the first two weeks of April in Wisconsin), really, but you could still get this delicious, breath-defying spread.
Aioli is really a garlic-infused mayonnaise, which is quite fitting because the French created that, too. (And they prefer mayonnaise to ketchup on their fries. I love both. Just not at the same time.) The French love this stuff for easily prepared foods, such as for a French Bread spread. They use it instead of Ranch dressing for their crispy vegetable dip. Just lots of stuff.
What do garlic and the Le Grand Aïoli have to do with the wine enthusiast? Well, the French love to drink wine with their dishes, and as we have just gotten done elaborating they have a penchant for making foods and dishes with garlic. Unfortunately, the pungent, strident flavors of garlic can kill the rich, subtle overtones of even a high caliber wine, causing it to taste like something closer to vinegar than what it’s meant to taste like. What’s important here is how the French have learned to get around this problem of the wine lover who hates vampires.
The French will poach their garlic , for one thing. This processing, which is quite easy, allows the garlic skins to peel off with great ease while also lessening the raw strength of the garlic’s taste. Now we have a garlic which is more taste-friendly for the wine enthusiast. But the other trick of the French is to make prominent use of rosé wines as their garlicky dish accompaniments. This especially includes dry, full-bodied rosé. A crispy, fruity acidity meets the palate when one drinks a rosé (if you’re an American wine drinker you may be familiar with this flavor-profile from drinking Zinfandel ), and this has just the right chemistry to overwhelm the wine-flavor-killing qualities of garlic.
So. Poach your garlic. Get your dry, full-bodied rosé. Put your Le Grand Aïoli on your potato wedges . Fearlessly!