Behind the French Menu gives a tasty background to French cuisine, French dishes, how they are made and how they should be served.
Where there is a story behind a dish's creation and
that story may aid the diner's enjoyment then that will also be included. Bon appétit!
Kir and Kir Royale the Unique French Aperitifs:. - Behind the French Menu.
Kir and Kir Royale; the quintessential
French Aperitifs. from Behind the French Menu by Bryan G. Newman
A Kir Apéritif.
Photograph by courtesy of Stuart Webster.
Apéritifs are the before dinner drinks that you will often be
offered, for payment, in French restaurants. Kiror a Kir
Royale will rarely be missing from any
list of apéritifs offered anywhere in France.
The recipes for Kir and Kir Royale originated in Burgundy: A true Burgundian Kirwill be served in a wine glass with a taste of Crème
de Cassis, which is a 40% alcohol sweet blackcurrant cordial, over which a
dry white wine, the Bourgogne AligotéAOC will be gently
A Kir Royale pictured with a royal cat.
Photograph courtesy of Kellyoyo.
The recipe for a genuine Kir Royale
aperitif still requires the home grown 40% alcohol black currant, Crème de Cassis; from outside Burgundy a brut, dry, sparkling Champagne replaces the stillAligotéwhite wine. The Champagne makes for a more interesting, though more expensive option; however that change made the Kir Royale the aperitif of choice at Burgundian celebrations. Kir Royale is always served in a Champagne flute or coupe. Today a Kir Royale
is often made, in Burgundy, with a dryCrémantde Bourgogne AOC; the Crémantde Bourgogne AOC is Burgundy's own, excellent, sparkling wine. Outside Burgundy Champagne or another Cremant may be used. For more
on France’s wonderful, sparkling, and inexpensive, Crémant wines see the post: Crémantsare the best value in French sparkling wines.
Kiris named after Canon Felix Kir, a priest who, earned fame in the French resistance
in WWII and was later elected Deputy Mayor of Dijon. According to tradition
while Canon Felix Kir was
the Deputy Mayor of Dijon he exclusively served this, his favorite apéritif, at all official receptions; the Canon did not
invent the drink, but he certainly made it famous and unwittingly
immortalized his own name.
Kir and Kir Royale are equally
popular outside of the région
of Burgundy and outside France; a cold Kir or Kir Royale is always a
refreshing apéritif. Only a
few real purists demand Burgundy's Crème de Cassis and the AligotéAOC white wine anyway. A decent dry white is
important and though I may be baned from Burgundy for saying so there are many better dry white wines, also from Burgundy, than the
original Aligoté AOC.
The good Canon Felix Kirpassed on in 1968 and so he probably never considered the Burgundian option of using a Crémant
de Bourgogne instead of Champagne for Kir Royale; the Crémant de Bourgogne only reached the market with its AOC in the 1970's. Outside of Burgundy other excellent Crémant sparkling wines will be used, while the traditionalists will continue to use a dry Champagne. For more on Champagne and its history see the post: Champagne the most famous sparkling wine in the world.
Kir Breton and
KirNormande are the Bretagne,
Brittany and Normande, Normandy, way to honor Canon Kir’s name. These
two régions grown no wines, but they do have wonderful still and
sparkling ciders. There the local Kiraperitifs may be made
with a dry, still, or dry, sparkling cider, their ciders replacing the white
wine or Champagne. These local Kirswill
be served cold and make an interesting change, though I quickly return to the
originals when I am outside those two régions. For more
on France’s ciders see the post: The Magnificent Ciders of France.
decide to make Kirat home never use
more than two tablespoons of crème de cassis for each glass, and only use a dry wine. I
speak from experience, as too much Crème de Cassis and a wine that is
not dry enough may produce liquid sugar! For a Kir Royale the same limit on the creme de cassis is true; the Champagne or cremant used must be ultra brut, very dry, or brut, dry. Use too much creme de cassis or a sweet Champagne or cremant and the result will be sugar shock!
Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2014
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman