Stein attacks French wine

News Wine News
  • Thursday 11 August 2005

Award-winning UK chef Rick Stein OBE has lambasted French wine, saying the majority of it is mediocre.

Returning to the UK after spending three months in south-western France filming a new television series for the BBC, Stein had an unfavourable impression of the country’s wines.

Although he did admit that the best French wines were ‘still the best in the world’, the popular television chef was highly critical of the majority.

‘I have to say there is a lot of vin very ordinaire out there,’ said Stein. ‘For every one really good French wine, there are ten bad ones.’

The chef, who part-owns a winery in Australia, also attacked the protectionist attitude of French wine drinkers, saying they ‘stick doggedly to their own stuff.’

‘While they still make the best, they’re missing out on all those lovely Australians and New Zealands and Chileans they could be enjoying.’

Stein, whose Seafood Restaurant in Padstow, Cornwall received Decanter’s Restaurant of the Year award in 1989, also poured scorn on French wine lists, citing one restaurant he visited as being particularly bad.

‘There wasn’t a white on the list that was less than four years old,’ he said.

His observations on British regional dishes will come as a boon to those who took umbrage at French premier Jacques Chirac’s recent comments that British cuisine was the worst in Europe, after Finland.

‘The French talk up their regional dishes, but in my view we seriously talk ours down. A well-cooked Lancashire hotpot of Welsh cawl (chicken and vegetable broth) is every bit the equal of a French cassoulet or a poule au pot,’ he said.

Stein’s comments on French gastronomy were not all bad, however. He praised the Gallic nation for its better food markets, ready-to-eat food, portion control, moderate drinking and the fact that the French take time to svaour a meal.

‘A lot of Brits have become foodies in recent years – but as a nation the French have been foodies for centuries,’ he said.

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