When it comes to pairing a meal with the perfect glass of wine—whether it be white, red or sparkling—we already know the classics: foie gras and Sauternes, fish and white wine, cheeses and red wines…
However, what about the more surprising, unexpected pairings? With seven varietals of grapes existing in Alsace, and numerous notes of fruits, spices and oak all coming into play, there are a lot more surprising (and delectable) food and wine pairings to try than you may think.
Usually, we tend to associate foie gras with sweet wine, like Pinots Gris or Gewurztraminer, “Late Harvests” or “Selections de Grains Nobles”. However, if your foie gras is served with a touch of “fleur de sel” and an ounce of pepper, surprise your guests pairing it with a glass of Riesling Grand Cru. The ripe acidity of such wine will offset the “fat” side of foie gras.
Yes, no missteps when combining fish and shellfish with dry white wines such as Sylvaner or Riesling. However, on pink-fleshed fish such as salmon, salmon gravelax or salmon tartare, dare the rosé, in still wine or in Crémant Rosé (sparkling).
Yes, there are meat dishes that may not go well with red wine. We will tend to serve a southern red wine or a North African rosé on a lamb tagine for example. But if it is sweet and savoury like a lamb tagine with dried apricots and prunes, try a “not too soft” Gewurztraminer... the oriental aromas of this grape (rose, lychee, spices...) will perfectly with match this dish.
Those who haven't tested it yet will thank you for this revelation. Yes, cheeses pair overall much better with white wines than with red wines. For example, dry goat cheeses such as Chavignol's droppings go perfectly with Riesling thanks to their acidic and pointed patterns. In Alsace, we will of course not forget the traditional Munster-Gewurztraminer, but we can also mention the duo Crémant Extra-Brut and Parmesan. The acidity of Crémant, exacerbated by its fine bubbles, will reveal the salty aspect of Parmesan. Crémants also go very well with flowery cheeses such as camembert.
Blue-veined cheeses such as Bleus d’Auvergne for example, Roquefort or even Bleu de Gex will go very well with soft, even sweet white wines, such as “Late Harvests” or “Selections de Grains Nobles”. Their sweetness will soften the acidity and bitterness of this type of cheese for a perfect marriage.
Well, sweets at the end of the meal are often accompanied by coffee or another hot drink but here, for those who wish to continue the meal with a glass in hand, it is interesting to try the association dark chocolate and Pinot Noir of great maturity, with silky tannins. Dark chocolate also contains tannins and a little bit of fat, hence it is important to associate it with a red wine with silky tannins of great maturity. We should therefore avoid Rosé Pinot Noir for example. The more your dessert contains chocolate, the more structured your wine needs to be.
For sweets with milk chocolate or white chocolate, we can switch to combinations with drier wines like Pinot Gris or Rieslings, in order to slice with the fat of the chocolate. We will also focus on the aromatic aspects of the different chocolate vintages. Depending on their origins, they can develop very spicy aromas, hence we will dare to serve it with a dry Gewurztraminer.