Alsace: Food and wine of the region





Alsace, the region that has been buffeted backwards and forwards between France and Germany throughout its conflict riddled history, has subsequently got a strong Germanic influence in its cooking and wines.

Ninety percent of the wines produced in the region are white and sparkling made from Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc – there are some rosés and reds (made from Pinot Noir) but they are not commonly found outside the region.

The good thing about the wines of Alsace is that the label shows the grape variety and so once you have got an idea of the style and your respective taste and preference, you can more or less choose accurately each time. In terms of the style the white wines range from the aromatic, spicy Gewürztraminer, to the light and fragrant Pinot Blanc or Sylvaner.

Although grape variety is well-documented on the bottle, the level of sweetness in their whites is occasionally a little vague. In general their wines tend to be dry/off-dry and therefore if you prefer your wines with a bit more sweetness then the variety from Alsace will certainly cater for this. Recently many producers have endeavoured to provide more clarity in regards to the aforementioned by providing a sweetness indicator on the back label, which is helpful when it comes to the style the wine is made in.

The sparkling wines are made from a mix of the grape varieties mentioned above depending on the producers preference and are made in the same way as Champagne. Called Crémant d’Alsace, they are often great value alternatives to their more championed cousins if you fancy some bubbles but don’t want to shell out for Champers.

Alsatians (not the dogs but the people who live there) are keen on good grub and again the German influence is very apparent, although with a touch of French refinement.

The most famous dish from the region is possibly Choucroute, the Alsace version of Sauerkraut. Typically a large dish of pickled cabbage flavoured with juniper berries and served with lots of different cuts of smoked, un-smoked pork and local sausages. You can also find a version with fish (choucroute aux poisons, usually salmon and monkfish) if you don’t feel in the mood for a pig fest.

Another famous Alsace dish is the flammeküche or tarte flambée in French, a luscious tart of onion, cream and smoked pork on a thin crust.
 
 
Image by louloureuse 
 
You can also enjoy a baeckoffe, if visiting the region, which consists of pork, mutton and beef casserole marinated in wine and cooked very slowly between layers of potato. Other key ingredients in Alsace cuisine are foie gras, onions, either in the tarts, as an accompaniment or in sauces, noodles and the local stew made from the native river fish cooked in Reisling, called matelote.

Pastries are another favourite in Alsace, especially fruit tarts made from almost anything that grows on trees, especially typical are rhubarb, wild blueberries, red cherries and yellow Mirabelle plums.
 
Image by See-ming Lee 
 
They also make some delicious cakes including kugelhopf which looks a bit like a donut on steroids, stuffed with raisins and almonds.
 
 
Image by louloureuse 
 
Alsace is also famous for its beers – traditionally brewed for Christmas and in March - and its eaux de vie - clear fruit brandies, especially kirsch made from cherries or from quetsch and mirabelle plums which add a suitably fiery kick to the pork, cream, tarts and choucroute.

Food and wine matching ideas for AlsaceThe whites are very versatile with all sorts of food especially spicy food like Thai, Chinese and lighter curries because of their off-dry nature. Japanese food matches well with Alsace whites too, especially nigiri and sashimi, and with smoked fish, ceviches and carpaccios. 
 
To view our wines from the Alsace region of France click here.
 
Main Image by alh1 
 

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