Make-Ahead Coq au Vin Menu and Wine Pairings

How to make Coq au Vin + Make-Ahead Menu for Coq au Vin + Wine Pairings for Coq au Vin

How to make Coq au Vin in advance.

Coq au Vin. A great dish to make in advance.

Over the weekend, I had a dinner party for six. Normally, I don’t have a theme for my dinner parties, but that night’s theme was “Oui, Madame. Tout est classique.”

The menu is inspired by a wonderful meal I ate at Hotel Eychenne, a hotel/restaurant in St. Girons in the Ariège department in the Midi Pyrénées. We overnighted there in 2001 and then again in 2005, when we were tooling through the Pyrénées, swooping down from Toulouse and motoring to the Mediterranean.

Hotel Eychenne. I haven't stayed in over 10 years, but I have enduring and endearing memories it.

Hotel Eychenne in St. Girons, Ariege. Off the beaten path and anything but trendy.

We came upon this little inn—which was founded in 1830—and we knew it was perfect: It exuded the kind of “everyday France,” complete with the weight of history, that I adore. Indeed, it’s the type of spot that you won’t find in any Michelin guide, but that you’ll long remember.

After we settled into our simple but charming room, we went for a swim in the courtyard pool, then dressed for dinner. In the dining room, sipping my apéritif, I opened the menu that the owner/maitre d’ had presented, and it only took me a few seconds to realize exactly what kind of menu it was.

Tout est classique! Or, at least it was in 2001 and 2005.

Tout est classique! Or, at least it was in 2001 and 2005.

“Mais c’est classique!” I exclaimed! It’s classic! The owner happened to be walking by and he must have heard the joy in my voice.

“Oui, Madame. Tout est classique,” he said, with immense pride. Everything is classic.

Indeed, the menu was rife with French classics in general as well as classics of France’s Southwest in particular: seared foie gras au raisin, shrimp flambéed in Cognac, coq a vin, Tournedos Rossini, magret de canard, cassoulet, saddle of lamb with white beans, crème Catalan, a moist chocolate gâteau with caramel, a soufflé with Grand Marnier.

And of course, between the main dish and dessert, up rolled the cheese trolley.

I was in heaven. It’s not that I don’t love the highly original, globally inspired, exceedingly detailed and playfully chic food of contemporary gastronomy in France, but sometimes, I simply adore a lovely pâté de campagne, a luscious warm goat-cheese salad, a great coq au vin, and a good chocolate gâteau.

And so when I invited two other couples for dinner—hardcore foodies who’ve dined on three to four continents each—I thought: What do I do best? What do I crave the most?

And the answer: Tout est classique.

Here it is, then, the menu inspired by the owner/maître d’ of the Hotel Eychennes—who’s likely long retired—and his proud proclamation: “Oui, Madame, tout est classique.”

Make-Ahead Coq au Vin Menu with Wine Pairings

Make-Ahead Coq a Vin Menu


First Course:

  • Warm Goat Cheese Salad (page 38 of The Bonne Femme Cookbook)
  • To drink: Muscadet Sèvre et Maine sur Lie (a beautiful Loire Valley white that’s stunning with goat cheese!)

Plat Principal:


  • Gâteau au Chocolate with Salted Caramel Sauce and Mascarpone Whipped Cream. I highly recommend this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Yes, it has flour in it. I find flourless chocolate cakes too cloying, and the usual American chocolate cakes too unsatisfying. This recipe is just right. My personal touch? I serve it atop some chocolate caramel sauce drizzled across the plate, and Mascarpone Whipped Cream, made simply by whipping equal part of Mascarpone and heavy whipping cream, with a little sugar and vanilla to taste.

Make-Ahead Tips:
• See my Coq a Vin recipe, which tells you which steps may be made ahead.
• Make the vinaigrette for the Goat Cheese Salad a few hours in advance. Bring to room temperature before using. Toast the nuts a up to 2 hours in advance.
• Of course, Gougères freeze beautifully. I always have them in my freezer, and you should do the same.
• Pre-prep the Any-Night Baked Rice, getting it oven-ready before your guests arrive. Then, when you’re about 1/2 an hour from dinner, slide it into the preheated oven.
Make the Gateau a Chocolate a day in advance.

Enjoy, friends! And if you liked this post, here’s how you can support this website, with no additional cost to you. Next time you want to order something from Amazon, simply start your search through one of my links, such as the one below. I’ll receive a small commission from anything you order (even if it’s not exactly what I’m promoting!). Thanks for your consideration, and thanks, as always, for reading Chez Bonne Femme.




Chocolate cake photo by Asbjørn Floden via Flicker.
Coq au Vin photo by Leoslo via Flickr.



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4 comments to Make-Ahead Coq au Vin Menu and Wine Pairings

  • I had my first ever coq au vin this past weekend in Dijon. Very dark sauce..i felt almost drunk afterwards even though they said the alchol had burned off. Trés delish.

    • Wini

      I often feel a bit “tipsy” when I eat in France–even if I don’t drink any wine at all. And I think that’s part of the reason: There’s still a little alcohol left in anything you cook with wine. It’s a trace amount.

      I also think, though, that I get a genuine buzz when I’m happy and in France….it can feel like being tipsy, but really, it’s just being happy!

  • What a delicious menu/party! I love how you broke the timing/preparation down for us. This is the hardest part of entertaining. And may I say again, your gougères are the best I have ever made.

    • Wini

      I’m so glad you like my gougères! For that dinner party, another couple came later than the rest….and ALL the gougères had been eaten up–people just couldn’t resist. I felt bad, but I also knew that once I put them out, there was no stopping my guests from finishing them off!

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