Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Alsace Wine Region: Outstandingly Food-Friendly Wines

Alsace is situated with the Vosges Mountains to the west and Rhine River in the east. The majority of their vineyards is concentrated in a narrow strip on the eastern slopes of the Vosges, which provides a good balance of temperature, soil drainage and sun exposure to grow excellent wines. Alsatian wines are typically fine white wines with intense, fresh aromas and uninhibited flavors. Their outstanding wine characteristics come from the beneficial climate, soil and overall terroir. Alsace enjoys low rainfall and high levels of summer sunshine with such a variety of soils (limestone, granite, clay and volcanic, among others) that experts say soil composition is different every 100 feet.

Although some vineyards in Alsace produce red wines, this wine region is predominantly known for its outstanding white wines, such as Riesling and Gewurztraminer. Due to Germanic influence, many of their wines are labeled by varietal, with their main grape varietals being Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Noir. According to the Alsace Wine Route, the characteristics of the varietals from this region are;

-The Sylvaner d’Alsace: This is a light and fresh wine with a subtle fruity flavour. It goes perfectly with fish, seafood and charcuterie.

-The Pinot Blanc d’Alsace: Balanced and often fruity. It provides a light acidity mixed with aromas of violet or iris. A very subtle wine that can accompany most dishes.

-The Muscat d’Alsace: This dry wine offers a peppery sensation, mixed with powerful aromas of fresh grapes and fruits. It can be enjoyed as an aperitif and is a perfect match for asparagus.

-The Riesling d’Alsace: A dry and characterful white wine, it gives off citrus aromas, sometimes accompanied by mineral or floral notes. It is perfect for livening up sauerkraut, white meats and fish.

-The Pinot Gris d’Alsace : This is a full-bodied, round and balanced wine. With moderate acidity, it gives off aromas of undergrowth and yellow fruits. It goes perfectly with foie gras, poultry or game.

-The Gewurztraminer d’Alsace: Much appreciated for the richness of its bouquet, this wine is full-bodied and robust. It develops aromas of honey or exotic fruits and goes very well with desserts, cheeses and exotic cuisines. It is an excellent aperitif.

-The Pinot Noir d’Alsace: This grape variety can produce two different wines: the Pinot Noir rosé and the Pinot Noir red. The Pinot Noir rosé is light, subtle and tart. It evokes the fragrances of red fruits. The Pinot Noir red gives off aromas of cherry or smoke.

Both wines accompany red meat, soft-rind cheeses and charcuterie. All Alsatian wines are appellation wines, which mean they are defined and protected by French wine laws to ensure consistent quality. Alsace belongs to one of 53 Appellations d’Origine Contrôlées (AOC), 51 of which are Grands Crus. In addition to their excellence, Alsatian wines are renowned for being versatile when it comes to food pairings. They go delightfully with everything from Mexican to Asian cuisine.


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