Wines of France Visits Underbelly in Houston

Wines Of France Wines of France hosted an event in July that paired French wines with foods that are Houston-inspired and created by Chef Chris Shepard from Underbelly.

Part of an ambitious summer tour to expose people to French wine as an everyday wine that pairs well with American cuisine, Wines of France hosted events in Chicago, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Houston and New Orleans. Each city was carefully chosen for its wine-loving populations and vibrant local culinary scene.

I have a sommelier certification, so when I was invited to this event I almost decided to pass on it. I already know a bit about French wines. I honestly decided to go because it was being held at Underbelly. I’d heard many good things about this place and here was a chance to go without a crowd, with free wine, and free food. Really, really hard to pass up in any case.

Well surprise, surprise! Not only was I greeted with a glass of sparkling (what U.S. city reminds you of Champagne???), the presentation delivered by Sheri Morano, Master of Wine, is an excellent hook into a way to learn and remember French wines. I know I learned a very valuable lesson today and that is, how to help someone else make a memorable and emotional connection with wine.

It began with a light discussion on a particular wine region and its style and then related this style to a city here in the USA; basically pairing the wine style with the style of a city. Truly a fun and entertaining way to think about wines and certainly makes them memorable. I have a quiz for you below.

Korean Braised Goat and Dumplings - Photo by Amy Corron PowerAfter the presentation we had wine and food pairings. When paired correctly, food and wine really do become more than the sum of their parts. The marriage of a wine’s sugar, alcohol, acid and tannins with food can really make your meal that much more enjoyable and this 5-course pairing was no exception.

This is not a food and wine review so I won’t go into those details, but here was our menu:

Sweet Rice Cake with Brûléed Peach at Underbelly in Houston - Photo by Amy Corron PowerThe pairings were fun, the wines excellent and complementary, and the food exquisite. I highly recommend you print this out and go to Underbelly [Do it now!] and use this menu as a guide.

Okay! Okay! I can’t resist. I have to say something about this… the sweet rice cake tasted like a bowl of milk right after you’ve finished eating the frosted flakes! Very nice with the Bruléed Peach.

As promised, the Wine Quiz! Are you ready? Here are the wine regions, their styles and the cities chosen to represent those wine regions. See if you can match up the wine style with the city style. Good luck and let use know how you did in the comments. Cheers!!!

Wine Regions and Styles:

  • Sud-Ouest – earthy and inspiring
  • Burgundy – cultured and refined
  • Languedoc-Roussillon – bold and strong
  • Bordeaux – complex, yet versatile
  • Provence – fresh and vibrant
  • Rhône Valley – vivacious and full of spirit
  • Beaujolais – approachable and food friendly
  • Champagne – elegant and bubbly
  • Loire Valley – charming and gracious
  • Alsace – delicate and romantic

U.S. Cities:

  • New York, New York
  • San Francisco
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Dallas
  • Phoenix
  • Miami
  • New Orleans
  • Charleston
  • St. Louis
  • Hollywood


  • Alsace / San Francisco
  • Beaujolais / St. Louis
  • Bordeaux / New York, New York
  • Burgundy / Washington, D.C.
  • Champagne / Hollywood
  • Languedoc-Roussillon / Dallas
  • Loire / Charleston
  • Provence /  Miami
  • Rhône Valley / New Orleans
  • Sud-Ouest / Phoenix

Hank Greer is a Certified Sommelier working toward his Certified Specialist of Wine certification. Born in Chang Rai, Thailand, Hank has lived in Thailand, Japan and all over the United States. A Lead Web Developer by day, you can also find him at Houston’s hottest night spots. He also blogs about wine and food at Vino HAG.

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