Haute cuisine, translated from French as "high cuisine," was invented in France by George Augustine Escoffier in the mid-19th century. This cuisine is characterized by elegant presentation with meticulous attention to detail and a rigorous pursuit of quality ingredients and technique.
Escoffier was not only a notable chef, but he was also a prominent restaurateur and food writer. His ideas were inspired by prominent chefs that came before him, but his approach modernized the traditional methods to a more simplified implementation that emphasized quality over intricacy. One of the landmark achievements of Escoffier is his establishment of the five mother sauces that are the cornerstone of modern French cuisine.
One of the hallmarks of French cuisine is the pairing of wine and food. The key to haute cuisine is finding the right balance of flavors and ingredients in a dish, and the drink that accompanies the meal plays an important part of the overall balance. The right wine can bring out the best flavors in a dish, while a poor choice will emphasize undesirable qualities in the food. Some elementary rules of wine pairings are to have red wine with meat while white wine is best paired with fish and poultry.
Wine pairing is also important in nouvelle cuisine, which was the next stage of evolution for French cuisine that began in the 1950s. Where Escoffier codified and streamlined the art of French cooking in the previous century, nouvelle chefs sought to break with the rigid adherence to his rules in order to allow greater creativity and variety in the culinary experience. Although nouvelle chefs embraced innovation, they still retained French ideas about balancing flavors and using the best ingredients. Nouvelle cuisine is characterized by fresh ingredients and less emphasis on heavy sauces. Proteins are generally cooked for shorter durations to highlight the natural flavors of the ingredients.