With the help of our friends at Alsace wineswe’re highlighting four of the region’s most exciting wines and ideas for how to pair them this fall.
As the weather gets colder and the leaves start to change, my taste in wine shifts from rosés and spritzes to light reds and bright, refreshing whites. I get out my dishes and start planning fall dinners, food and wine pairings that will bring us together.
This fall, wines from Alsace, France, form the core of my gourmet lineup that focuses on sustainability and responsible farming. Located in the northeast of France, next to Germany and above Switzerland, Alsace has an incredibly rich history and an approach to winemaking that combines tradition and innovation.
Almost a third of Alsatian vineyards use organic or biodynamic practices, making it a global hotbed for sustainable, minimal intervention wines. Its climate and incredible geological diversity create an environment conducive to several grape varieties and styles of wine, from the zesty and mineral Riesling to the lively bubbles of Crémant d’Alsace.
For fall dinners and gatherings, I always favor Alsatian wines which bring character, flavor and a refreshing brightness to the meal. Here are four wines that are sure to please this fall, along with the dishes I like to pair them with.
Alsace Pinot Gris is rich, complex and earthy, with light smoky aromas and hints of citrus and honey. The rosé gris grape has been cultivated in the region since the 16th century and today represents more than 16 percent of all Alsace vineyards. Whether made in oak barrels for added volume or stainless steel tanks for a more streamlined style, Pinot Gris is perfect for savory dishes with a ton of umami.
Cultivated in the region since the 15th century, Riesling is considered the “king” of Alsatian grape varieties. Rieslings from Alsace are generally dry, with notes of citrus and stone fruit, stony minerality and searing acidity, making them perfect food wines. (Highly acidic wines generally work very well with food, as the acidity refreshes the palate and makes us want to take another sip.) Spicy foods pair perfectly with refreshing Riesling, as do richer foods. with cream-based sauces. If I find a sweet Riesling, usually labeled Vendanges Tardives (late harvest) or Sélection des Grains Nobles, it goes home with me. Sweet wines aren’t a common choice to pair with food, but that doesn’t mean people should shy away from them. They’re beautiful on their own or as an accompaniment to dessert or cheese, and they make dinner even more special.
Pinot Noir is the hidden gem of Alsace and the red grape variety of choice. (It’s the only red grape allowed to be grown in the region.) The wine comes in a range of styles from deep and earthy to fruity and light, making it an easy and versatile choice for pairing with beef , chickenduck or even game meats such as venison.
Did you know that Alsace has its own magic sparkler? One of my all-time favorite sparkling wines, Crémant d’Alsace is made using the traditional method, in the same way as Champagne, with a second fermentation period taking place in the bottle itself. The wines are crisp, dry, fruity, elegant and have a beautiful mousse of bubbles, which easily cuts through salty or fatty foods. Crémant d’Alsace pairs with just about everything, from snacks like popcorn and cheese plates to main dishes like grilled fish and lemony pasta.
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What is your favorite food and wine pairing for fall?
Using centuries-old techniques rooted in tradition, Alsace wines produces largely biodynamic wines, suitable for gastronomy, such as Pinot Gris, Riesling, etc. To learn more about this rich wine region, visit their website.