Getting FUNKY With French Wine!

This review of The Funky Door Bistro and Wine Room is based off my experience attending the Summer Passport Series: France I wine dinner on June 7, 2016. The Summer Passport Series is taught by owner and Level II Court of Master Sommeliers, Carrie Britton.

Don’t you love it when you have the opportunity to listen to an expert share about a topic that you are passionate about?

That’s how I felt when I attended the first dinner of this summer’s Passport Series at The Funky Door Bistro & Wine Room. If you’ve never attended a wine dinner at The Funky Door, you are missing out. Let me just tell you that they do it up right! The Summer Passport Series is an elegant (but totally unpretentious) journey through the world’s wine regions.

Each dinner focuses on a different country and delights you with eight perfectly paired courses. The series highlights the splendid wines of France on two separate nights. Other dinners feature Spain and Portugal, Italy, South Africa, Chile and Argentina, Australia and New Zealand. Of course the U.S.’s most famous wine regions, California and Oregon, share the spotlight later in the series. Other lesser-known European countries are spotlighted as well.

This week, I got my “passport” stamped in France—a country arguably home to the best food and wine in the world. If you follow this blog or if you’ve had more than a five minute conversation with me, you know that I love France. I am obsessed with French wine and French food. Naturally, this dinner could have gone either way for me. Thankfully, I loved everything about this wine dinner, and I knew by the 3rd course that it warranted a full review on this week’s blog.


What’s the deal with French wines?

So, here’s the thing. French wines can be super-intimidating. The labels are tricky, the appellation system is a maze, and—for those of us who’ve ordered incorrectly and been rebuffed by a Parisian waiter—their pretension leaves them feeling a little off-limits. Many of them are also super-expensive, which does nothing for their accessibility, right? Do any of these misnomers about French wine sound familiar? If so, I want to sing a song to your oenophile ears.

French wine is not pretentious…But you might be.

When Carrie Britton, owner and chief wine geek at The Funky Door, said we were going to begin and end our evening in Alsace, I admittedly had my doubts (spoiler alert: I wasn’t disappointed). Don’t get me wrong–Alsace is lovely–but because it sits right on the border of Germany, I generally regard it more for its beer production than its wine. See…we all have some snobbery we need to work through.

Y’all. Snobbery will get you nowhere.

Carrie began our tour de France with a cheese board and some bubbles from the Alsace-Lorraine. The sparkling Brut Rosé was delicious. It’s also a steal and my new go-to for bubbles. Yep, you read that right. A fantastic sparkling wine can be found in France, outside Champagne and Burgundy, and be sold at a moderate-low price point. (I found it locally for $18-$22 per bottle.) I may have revisited that Lucien Albrecht several times, but I promise it in no way tainted my judgment for the rest of the evening.

French wine is genius.

If you think the French take their wine-making seriously, well, you’d be correct. But, if you think that’s a problem….you’d be dead wrong. Look, I’m all about innovation, creativity, and breaking the mold. I’m a Millennial, for the love! I have great respect to those who are changing it up in the wine world. But, an examination of French wines demonstrates that their ancient and detailed production processes are nothing short of brilliant. Rigorous control and classification standards have contributed to a consistent history of producing the world’s finest and most diverse wines. Carrie explained it this way:

“Few parts of the earth offer the soil types, microclimates, aspect, and drainage PLUS ages of wisdom and intelligence of winemakers like in France. More than anywhere on earth, the wines of France speak of their origins with elegance and finesse that is centuries in the making.”

I’m no Sommelier, but I tend to agree.

The French are pretty snobby about their wines and wine-making standards, but they should be! On a recent trip to Burgundy, France, my amazing French wine guide, Youri, explained it very plainly. He said, “I take you to the countryside before I take you to the cellar because you must bear witness to the creation of the wine in order to appreciate it. In Bourgogne (Burgundy), the land is everything. In California, you drink a good wine because a human made it that way. In France, you drink a great wine because God made it that way.”

Wine tour in Burgundy. France

French wine plays well with others.

That Cremant d’Alsace I mentioned earlier was the first wine we were offered at the dinner, and it was wonderful all by itself! I love a good pairing, but rarely have I appreciated the changes food brought about in wine as I did on this evening. Carrie explained, “French wines are made for food, and finding that perfect pairing makes the wine and the food better.”

She speaks the truth.

That first wine was soon joined by a duck pâté with strawberry, and this combo opened up my palate perfectly for the things to come. I cannot say enough about this. The inspired cuisine was just as critical to the dinner’s success as the wine selection. Evidence of this is how thoroughly I—a red wine loyalist—enjoyed the white selections. In fact, my favorite course of the night was an explosive pairing of Leflaive Bourgogne Blanc Les Setilles (yep, that’s a white Burgundy…try it today. It will bless your life.) with a perfectly seared sea bass and—wait for it—a WHITE CHOCOLATE BEURRE BLANC.

Knock. Me. Over.

This was one of the best combinations I’ve ever had. In my life. #dying. Carrie, I beg of you, please put this on your menu.

French wine pairing


French wine and food pairings


French wine tours

{Which brings me to my next point}

French wine is so dang good.

…And it doesn’t have to cost as much as a sofa. I told you that I’m a red wine lover, and Carrie’s selections did not disappoint. They were fabulous picks for the evening, not just because of their variety and evaluation, but because of their price position in the market.

The great thing about a tasting like this is also the opportunity for comparison. I get that some people don’t get into pinot noir like I do, but the Louis Jadot Couvent des Jacobins (also from Burgundy–my personal wine mecca) was my favorite wine of the night and the one I was most excited to see on the menu. J’adore the Bourgogne region of France. I spent several minutes just comparing the three reds we were offered. In addition to the pinot, there was a wonderful Beaujolais and a splendid Malbec from Cahors—an area of France that is also home to the finest foie gras on the planet. They were all wonderful, and I appreciated the challenge of breaking down their unique qualities.


“Great wines please the intellect as much as the palate.”                         -Carrie Britton



French wine is inspiring.

I left the first dinner of the Summer Passport Series feeling terribly inspired (and maybe a little tipsy). What a great reminder of how special food and wine are and the important role they play in our travel. Carrie said that her passion for wine was brought about by her love of travel.

“I loved that I could have a wine in a wonderful place and then have that same wine when I got home. It somehow transports me back to that special place.”

I would venture that, likewise, enjoying the wines here at home only allows them to tell part of their story. Just like a trip to your home town, the wines come to life when you experience them in the place of their birth. Next time I’m in need of vacation inspiration, I’ll be sure to make my reservation at The Funky Door.


I would like to sincerely thank Carrie Britton for generously sharing her knowledge and her lovely wines! I cannot wait for the next class in the series where we will visit the South of France—pure summertime perfection. Ah, I can already taste the rosé and the bouillabaisse! For more information, or to make your reservation for the any of the Summer Passport Series dinners (which I strongly suggest you do right this second), visit The Funky Door online or call 806.687.0505.

Of course, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that European food and wine tours are The Jetlag Experience’s signature service. Perhaps this review has whet your palate for a taste of Bourgogne? If you are interested in a fully-customized food & wine journey to Europe, please visit The Jetlag Experience for more info, or reach out to me directly.

Ciao Chow!