Alsace, located in northeastern France, is known for its broad range of aromatic, un-oaked white wines, which pair with a broad variety of foods. Alsace Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Blanc are most widely found in the U.S., along with the extreme value Crémant d’Alsace, which is the best selling high-quality sparkling wine in France, just after Champagne.
Some of New York City’s leading sommeliers just visited the region, including Paul Grieco, general manager and partner at Hearth and Terroir Wine Bars. With Thanksgiving in mind, he says, “Let’s face it, the turkey is the most flavorless food on the table. What matter are the sides. Squash, sweet potatoes, potatoes and Grandma’s stuffing all call for a richer wine. A Pinot Gris or Gewurztraminer of Alsace will do the trick, with their underlined acidity and richness. They’ll make the turkey taste better, too. For dessert, a Vendage Tardive has the weight and acidity to match pecan tart or pumpkin pie.”
Michael Madrigale, chief sommelier of Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud, adds, “Alsace is brilliant! The climate is dry, cool and sunny. Is there any other place in the world with this incredible variety of soils? The range of varietals and styles is also fascinating. The wines are super easy to enjoy, but one could also spend their life understanding the varied terroirs Alsace. In addition to Paul’s suggestions, they go really well with Mediterranean cuisine.”
Juliette Pope, beverage director at Gramercy Tavern, seconds some of Michael’s opinions, “The white wines of Alsace span a fascinating range of styles, from lean and mean to opulently rich. Alsace is an undervalued and versatile treasure trove of wines that work with any course of any meal. There are highly aromatic, dry, racy wines – some Riesling and the rare Muscat in particular – fit for any lighter dishes on the dinner table, along with the more expected, full-bodied, voluptuous ones – often Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris – that beautifully complement richer foods like cheese, foie gras, terrines, and fresh game.”
Finally, Eric Ziller, wine director of Gotham Bar & Grill chimes in, “I have never spoken with so many wine makers who brought food into the discussion when talking about their wines. It is not a coincidence that wines of Alsace are among the most food friendly wines in the world. As consumers drift away from clunky, oak-driven plonk, Alsace offers those with a sense of adventure a wide range of wines, from the driest, crispest and most mineral-laden to dessert wine. For a holiday toast, I recommend the regional sparkling wine, Crémant d’Alsace, which is one of the best sparkling wine values in the word.”
For further inspiration on pairing Alsace wines with a range of foods, please visit www.JustAddFood.com. Visitors can also sign up to receive the Alsace Wines newsletter, which includes news and recipes.