Dry or sweet, sparkling or still, wine from Alsace has my heart. Not surprisingly, I recently traveled to Alsace, lured by the aromas and flavors of Riesling, Gewurztraminer, and Pinot Gris.
There are many other varietals grown in Alsace. However, you simply cannot speak of Alsace without mentioning Riesling, as the grape is synonymous with the region.
Riesling pairs beautifully with many cheeses, but let me tell you: Riesling and goat cheese is a match made in heaven.
Let me explain.
Riesling can be dry, off-dry, and sweet. Likewise, goat cheese comes in many variations, from young and fresh to semi-hard with earthy flavors. It matters not which style of goat cheese you prefer–there is a Riesling pairing that will make your tastebuds sing.
For this article, I paired a 2016 Famille Hugel Classic Riesling with a two different goat cheeses: a Brie de Chevre and Chevoo’s creamy goat cheese cubes marinated in dill pollen and garlic.
Wine and cheese pairing notes
Famille Hugel Classic Riesling 2016
Hugel’s classic label wines are made from 50% estate-grown fruit and 50% grapes purchased from local vineyards. This is a budget friendly wine at around 20 dollars a bottle that brings a lot of flavor for the price point.
Insider note: I visited the Hugel winery last October, and tasted every single style of Riesling they make. They were all incredibly good, but I think the 2016 Classic Riesling is one that will please palates from novice to more experienced oenophiles.
If you visit the winery in Riquewihr, you can take a walk in the vineyards on the hillside overlooking the village.
This wine scored 90-92 points with four top critics: James Suckling, Wine Enthusiast, Wine Spectator, and Vinous. Impressive!
Tasting notes: A light body white wine that tastes more complex. On the palate, I tasted ripe pear, green apple, and hint a hint of white flower, with a tart lemon finish and biting acidity. Very tangy.
Riesling is often misunderstood to be a sweet wine. While it can be sweet, in Alsace, it is most often bone dry. Serve Riesling to your guests, and you have a chance to be a wine superstar simply by introducing them to one of France’s lesser known wine regions…and dry Riesling.
Why is Riesling perfect with goat cheese?
Many people don’t like the earthy and tangy flavors of goat cheese. However, it is precisely those flavors that make it a perfect pairing with a dry white wine, like Riesling. Goat cheese is acidic; likewise, Riesling is acidic.
The creamy texture and slightly nutty taste of the Brie de Chevre paired beautifully with the Riesling. The savory, herbal flavors of the Chevoo brought out the tartness of the Riesling. However, the acidity of the wine was a winner with both cheeses. I think an off-dry Riesling would be a better match for the Chevoo, but the Classic Riesling had enough fruit flavors on the palate to pull it off.
Never fear: if you don’t like goat cheese, or just want to try something different, there are plenty of options, including:
Brie: A perennial crowd favorite, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a cheese board without a cow’s milk brie. A creamy texture with buttery and nutty flavors, this spreadable cheese goes well with most any cracker, but is especially nice on warm French bread. I recommend, however, that if you choose to serve both a cow’s milk and a goat milk brie, do not put them on the same board (and consider labeling the cheeses).
Muenster: Muenster is from the Alsace region, so it would be a nice selection to include with an Alsace Riesling. A soft cheese with a washed rind which is slightly pungent, Muenster is nutty, creamy, and delicious melted. It would pair well with an off-dry Riesling. Muenster is often substituted for Livarot.
Tomme de Savoie: This is a slightly earthy cheese from the French Alps. It has a smooth texture and is often served with cured meats and fruit.
Comte: With small, scattered holes called “eyes,” Comté has an intriguing, complex flavor that can include hints of apricot, chocolate, butter, cream, hazelnuts, and toast. Enjoy Comté in cubes, on a sandwich, melted in fondue, or grated and sprinkled on your favorite dishes. Any way you like it, serve Comté with a dry Riesling.
If you’re searching for the perfect wine to pair with a variety of cheeses and please many palates, look no further than Riesling from Alsace. It’s my go-to for good reason.
This article is inspired by a the French #winophiles. Read more about what we are sharing this month.
The French #Winophiles is a virtual tasting group composed of food and wine writers and influencers that explores French food & wine pairings on the third Saturday of every month. Join us Saturday, 15 June 2019 at 10 am CDT, 17:00 in France on Twitter: #winophiles or follow my Twitter feed @PennySadler.
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