nature's gems

Truffle Hunt in France


Decoding Delicacies: A Truffle Hunt in France Paired with Exquisite French Wines and Glassware

Exploring a natural treasure.

Truffle hunting means crisp, fresh mornings looking for one of nature's gems in stunning rural landscapes. When it comes to locations for this mouth-watering pursuit, Périgord stands out as the destination to visit - and there's little wonder why. Just picture yourself standing in the idyllic French countryside, immersed in the earthy aroma of the forest floor, ready to uncover these elusive, delicious gifts thriving underground near the roots of trees.

Sounds rather tempting, right? You'll be pleased to know the fun doesn't stop there. Thanks to France's world-leading wine scene, once you've uncovered your precious truffles, you can pair these earthly treasures with a variety of renowned French wines. Join us as we invite you to explore the captivating world of truffle hunting, the synergy between truffles and French wines, and the pivotal role of glassware in elevating this culinary experience.


The Truffle Hunt – A French Tradition

Let's begin with where it all started. Truffle hunting is deeply rooted in the culture and heritage of France, having originated there during Roman times. The exact cause of the discovery is unclear, but it likely emerged following people observing animals like wild boars foraging for truffles and subsequently recognizing their gastronomic value. By the 18th century, truffle hunting in France had become an organized endeavor, leading to the development of truffle orchards and the intentional cultivation of truffles in the picturesque landscapes of rural France. Today, despite truffle hunting taking place worldwide in countries including Italy, the USA, Spain, China, and Australia, France remains the global leader in truffle production and truffle hunting, with a deep-rooted cultural and culinary connection to these prized fungi.

So, what does the truffle hunting process entail? Truffles are notoriously challenging to locate and unearth, so we humans need some help. Initially, truffle hunters used female pigs (male pigs were often aggressive and thus harder to control) to help them unearth truffles. There was a minor issue with this, though - while pigs were great at finding the truffles, they were equally skilled at gobbling them up before the hunters could get their hands on them. This flaw has seen a shift towards using dogs, known as truffle hounds, in recent years, who are more adept at signaling the location of the truffles to hunters, allowing them to enjoy more of their discoveries than during the days of the truffle hog!

Notable French truffles and regions

The good news about truffle hunting in France is there's a plethora of prized truffles and locations to choose from. The downside to that is that it can be hard to make a decision on where to go and what truffles to aim for. So, where do you go, and what truffle do you try to collect? Some of the most revered truffles you can find in France and their corresponding regions include:

  • The Périgord black truffle. Often referred to as the "black diamond" of French cuisine, this truffle is prized for its earthy and intense aroma. It is primarily found in the Périgord area of the Dordogne region in southwestern France, which is home to some of the rarest, most coveted truffles in the world.
  • The Burgundy truffle. This truffle is known for its strong aroma and flavor profile that ranges from nutty to garlicky. This truffle variety can be found in various regions of France, including its namesake region of Burgundy, but it also grows in parts of eastern and northeastern France.
  • The summer truffle. This truffle is found in various regions of France, including the Périgord, Provence, and the Languedoc. It is harvested during the summer months and is characterized by its milder aroma and flavor compared to the Périgord black truffle and other winter truffles. These milder flavors make it perfect for shaving over lighter meals such as summer salads, adding a distinctive touch of flavor without overwhelming the dish.

Burgundy, Dordogne, and Provence are arguably the best-known and most prestigious epicenters of truffle hunting in France, but a long list of French regions are renowned for their truffle hunting. Some other excellent areas for truffle hunting include Champagne-Ardenne, Franche-Comte, and Lorraine. You can even head to Corsica for your truffle hunt if you'd prefer to carry out this activity in a more Mediterranean environment!


French Wines – A Perfect Truffle Companion

If you want to enhance your truffle experience further, you'll be pleased to know that the marriage of truffles and French wines is a gastronomic match made in heaven. France, often hailed as the wine capital of the world, boasts a rich tapestry of wine regions, each with its terroir and grape varieties. But how do you select which wines to pair with which truffles? A couple of approaches can make this step a little easier for you.

  1. Look at the geography. Ever heard the saying, "What grows together, grows together?" You may have already noticed the considerable overlap between French wine and truffle regions; Burgundy is even better known for its wine than it is for its truffles, Provence is well-known for its rosé wines, and Dordogne is right next door to the Bordeaux wine region. Try enjoying truffles with their regional wine counterparts for an authentic experience that stays true to the part of France you want to capture the character of.
  2. Match intensities. Like with any other food, we want our wines to be manageable with the truffles we're enjoying and vice versa. For example, the earthy richness of Périgord truffles harmonizes beautifully with the rich and complex flavors of a Bordeaux red wine. Lighter, fruit-forward Burgundy red wines pair well with the garlicky aromas of Burgundy truffles, while mild and nutty summer truffles are best enjoyed alongside a buttery Chardonnay or a crisp, dry rosé. Notice that this intensity-based pairing guidance still often follows the 'what grows together, goes together' school of thought.

The Importance of the Right Glassware

If we've said it once, we've said it a million times: your choice of glassware can significantly influence the aroma and taste of wine, making it a crucial element in the truffle pairing experience. After all, what's the point in selecting a wine to complement the truffles you enjoy only to serve that wine in a glass that dulls its qualities?

Our RIEDEL Grape Varietal Specific Glassware collections are the perfect tools for maximizing truffle-wine pairings. Here are a few examples of how you can use them to maximize your truffle-based meals and wine combos.

  • Suppose you're enjoying a rich, earthy shaved winter truffle mixed with butter and melted over roasted beef alongside a full-bodied Bordeaux red wine. In that case, we recommend our RIEDEL Carbent/Merlot Glass, featuring tall, broad bowls perfect for smoothing out the rough edges and bitter qualities of high tannin wines.
  • If you've opted for a Burgundy truffle risotto with a bottle of Pinot Noir, a RIEDEL Pinot Noir/Nebbiolo Glass is ideal for balancing the higher acidity with the soft tannins and fruit-forward flavors you'll encounter. Try storing your truffle in your bag of arborio rice to impart its flavors into the rice, making for an extra-delicious meal you can enjoy.
  • If you plan on shaving some summer truffles over a Salade Niçoise while sipping on a vibrant Chardonnay, a RIEDEL Chardonnay/Viognier Glass is well suited to balancing the freshness of the wine with the added richness provided by the truffle.

To learn more about selecting the proper RIEDEL glass for your wine, read our guide to different wine glass styles

Every moment in the enchanting world of truffle hunting in France is a sensory journey - especially when you add French wines to the mix. As you unearth these culinary gems, remember that they are not just ingredients but a bridge to the rich tapestry of French cuisine and culture. So, embark on your truffle-hunting adventure, uncork a bottle of French wine, and choose the appropriate RIEDEL glass to turn each moment into a symphony of taste and aroma.