This French Region Has a Wine for Every Wintry Pairing

This French Region Has a Wine for Every Wintry Pairing

We’ve teamed up with Wines of Alsace to showcase the one-of-a-kind wines this idyllic region has to offer.

I’m a firm believer in matching your wine to the weather. That first hint of summer heat screams for an ice-cold pét-nat, while a whisper of fall demands a chilled red to ease into the season. In the depth of winter, I love wines that remind me of sunny days and warm-weather exploring, which is why I reach for wines from Alsace, a region in northeastern France. From crisp, sparkling Crémant d’Alsace to earthy, red fruit-forward Pinot Noir, here are the four bottles I drink when the weather outside is frightful, plus the wintry dishes I like to pair them with.

What Makes the Alsace Region so Special?

Situated next to Germany and above Switzerland, the Alsace region occupies a unique geographical (and geological) space that’s ideal for winemaking. Thirteen distinct types of soil—from volcanic to limestone to clay—make the terroir and styles of wines produced here incredibly varied. The climate is sunny, dry, and perfect for slow-ripening, which produces the complex, balanced wines Alsace is known for. Of the 39,536 acres of vineyards, 35 percent are certified organic or biodynamic, or in the process of converting.

The region’s proximity to French, German, and Swiss cultures means the wines produced there pair well with all the rich food traditions of the area. Think: nutty Alpine-style cheeses, tangy sauerkraut, slow-cooked chicken, homemade sausages, and soft baked pretzels. And because they’re so versatile and food-friendly, wines from Alsace also taste lovely with dishes from other cultures (pad thai, tacos al pastor, linguine with clams, you name it).

1. Crémant d’Alsace Brut

Perfect for kicking off a holiday party or ringing in the New Year, this bubbly sip is fruity and slightly toasty on the nose with notes of apple, pear, and apricot. Its fine effervescence and crisp acidity are ideal for cutting through creamy (hello, dairy) and salty snacks alike. It’s also the perfect brunch-y bev, making it a friend to eggs and other breakfast bites.

2. Alsace Pinot Blanc

This well-balanced wine is fresh and subtly floral with light fruity notes of peach, apple, and pear, making it a great match for a bevy of cold-weather dishes. Seasonal produce is your friend when it comes to sipping Pinot Blanc in the winter: Alliums like leeks and onions tease out the wine’s light acidity, while pairing like with like (pear galette, anyone?) can be equally satisfying in this case.

3. Alsace Riesling

White flowers, fennel seeds, citrus, and stone fruit are a few of the notes you might taste when enjoying this type of wine. Despite the common misconception that all Riesling is sweet, Riesling from Alsace is almost always made in a dry style, complete with mineral notes and refreshing acidity. The wine’s versatility means the pairing possibilities are almost endless—a regional variation on a classic French chicken dish, pasta with luscious sauce, and even something spicy.

4. Alsace Pinot Noir

For a region that’s known for its white wines, winemakers in Alsace sure do make a fine red. With notes of blackberry, cherry, and spice, this silky, medium-bodied wine is a lovely foil to meat, nutty cheeses, and—my favorite—chocolate. It’s a bright, fruity red that’s up for basically any pairing you throw at it.

What’s your favorite winter food and wine pairing? Tell us in the comments below!

Our friends at Wines of Alsace produce food-friendly, largely biodynamic wines using centuries-old techniques, from Pinot Noir to Riesling and beyond. To learn more about this winemaking region, visit their site.

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