Vins d’Alsace

1 03 2009

I know it’s March now, but since it’s such a long month, and February is so short, I’m sure March won’t mind if we borrow a day to talk about Alsatian wines.  It just seems ignorant to spend a month writing about Alsace without dedicating a post to the wines of the region – besides, they are some of my very favorite white wines.

The holy trinity of Alsatian wine: Riesling, Gewurtztraminer, and Sylvaner

The wines of Alsace are notable among French wines in that they almost always list the grape varietal on the bottle.  (Many French wines are blends.)  The grapes used are also much more common in German winemaking than in French.  While their German counterparts tend to be quite sweet, Alsatian wines are usually vinified dry, clearing the path to better appreciation of the subtle flavors of the grapes and the mineral qualities of the terroir.  They also have a distinct, elongated bottle silhouette, which strikes me as elegant.  Regal, even.  In fact, in my now-infamous wine bottle manger scene of Christmas 2000, bottles from Alsace played the three wise men.  (The animals were represented by stumpy Côtes du Rhône bottles; Mary and Joseph were a feminine Bourgogne and a somber Bordeaux, respectively; and Baby Jesus took the form of a tiny bottle of Kronenbourg.  If I had the wherewithal to upload 8 year old film photos that are currently in storage in the US, I would totally share that one here.)

Anyway, the wines of Alsace are perfectly suited to the cuisine of the region – their mild sweetness and citrusy or tropical fruit overtones balance the hearty fare with aplomb.  But they also happen to pair quite well with spicy food, especially dishes from and inspired by Southeast Asia.  And let’s not forget the apéritif!  In fact, I think I’ll uncork one right now.

Yeah, it's a little early, but hey, it's Sunday.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.

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