Nestled in the protective shadow of the Vosges Mountains, lies the region of Alsace.
Although now technically a part of France, for centuries this north-eastern strip of land fell under German rule. As a result the whole area has a big Germanic influence; from the local foods – which incorporate numerous pork dishes – to the architecture, and even the language.
It’s even made its mark on the wines. With the law stipulating that all wines must be bottled in a flute shaped glass (just like Rieslings in Germany), and the grape variety being stated on the label. Yes, seriously, it’s one of the only French region that will tell you what’s in your bottle!
As a result, it makes Alsatian wines some of the most approachable in a supermarket. This, combined with the large variety of styles of available, means that there’s something to suit everyone.
Here’s my guide to the top wines of Alsace, and why you should be drinking them.
The dry one: Riesling
Compared to their sweeter German counterparts, Alsatian Riesling is almost always dry in style. They’re usually full of citrus flavours like lemon and lime, green apple and very refreshing. Great to cut through a rich dish, such as the pork and cheese laden dishes served in the region.
The sweet one: Pinot Gris
A relative of Pinot Grigio, this wine couldn’t be further from the insipid, bulk wines of Italy. It’s rich, full of exotic fruit character and honey. Sometimes there’s a little touch of sweetness too, which makes it a great partner for Asian foods.
The fragrant one: Gewurztraminer
Sometimes towards the sweeter end of the scale, and sometimes towards the drier styles, the one thing that can be said for certain about Gewurz is that it’s really aromatically perfumed. Think rose, lychee, honey – it’s almost like liquid Turkish delight. It’s not for everyone, but those who like it really cannot get enough of it.
The red one: Pinot Noir
A soft, fragrant red. This wine is lighter than its Burgundian counterparts, and is a great easy-drinking option. Perfect with game birds like duck and goose.