Top pairings | Top pairings for dry and off-dry Alsace whites

Top pairings

Top pairings for dry and off-dry Alsace whites

A re-run of an old post following a visit to Alsace, updating my recommendations on the best pairings for the region's dry and off-dry white wines.

What struck me particularly was how key sweetness is to the success of a match - something that will often be more marked in a younger wine than an older vintage.

We concentrated mainly on traditional Alsace cuisine because I always prefer to eat local when I visit a wine region and to be honest I don’t think the French do Asian that well. But Alsace’s affinity with spicy cuisines is well catalogued and definitely the way to go with off-dry wines. I’m also a fan of Alsace's drier styles with Japanese food and although I haven’t yet explored their potential I’m convinced they would go well with many Scandinavian dishes.

Incidentally there’s a new sweetness indicator which many producers are now putting on their back label which are a helpful clue to the style the wine is made in.

Top pairings for Alsace Riesling
Let’s start with my favourite Alsace wine (yes, I do like Gewürztraminer but I find Riesling much more flexible, especially the drier styles that are increasingly popular)
In Alsace
Creamy sauces, especially with fish like zander, plaice or sole (dry)
Choucroute (dry/off-dry)
Other good food matches
Scandinavian seafood dishes and smorgasbord (dry/offdry)
Japanese seafood dishes especially sashimi and sushi (dry)
Other raw seafood such as fish tartares, carpaccios and ceviches (dry)
Oysters given an Asian twist (dry)
Fresh crab (dry)
Seafood cocktail (off-dry)
Seafood salads (dry)
Smoked fish, especially smoked salmon and eel (dry)
Fish terrines (dry)
Simply cooked fish such as seabass (dry)
Onion tart (dry)
Mature goats cheese (dry, aged)
Roast pork belly (dry, aged, grand cru)
Korma curries (off-dry)
Dry spiced chicken dishes like chicken tikka and tandoori chicken (off-dry) - or similar preparations with seafood (dry/off-dry)
Dim sum (dry)
Lighter Thai dishes such as crab cakes, salads and pad thai noodles (off dry)
Vietnamese seafood dishes (dry)
Mexican seafood dishes like fish tacos (dry)
Dishes with citrus flavours (dry/offdry)
Dishes that include apples (dry)

Top pairings for Riesling blends
One of the styles I was most impressed by on the trip, particularly Domaine Pfister's Cuvée 8 (Riesling, Pinot Gris, Gewürz and Muscat) and Marc Kreydenweiss's Clos du Val d'Eleon a 50/50 blend of Riesling and Pinot Gris. By and large I'd follow the pairing suggestions for dry to off-dry Riesling rather than those for Pinot Gris or Gewürz.

Top pairings for Alsace Pinot Gris
Possibly Alsace’s trickiest grape variety as it’s hard to call whether it’s going to be dry or rich and verging on sweet. The locals seem to have a much higher tolerance for pairing off-dry Pinot Gris with dishes like salmon and veal with which we’d instinctively reach for a drier white or a red. These are the styles I personally enjoy most with Thai food
In Alsace
White meats such as chicken or veal with creamy sauces (especially with mushrooms) and fresh noodles (dry)
Hot pâté en croûte (dry/off-dry - a brilliant match we had with an old Pinot Gris at Leon Boesch)
Foie gras (off-dry)
Veal kidneys in cream sauce (dry)
Other good matches
Any slightly smokey foods or sauces (dry/off-dry)
Mushrooms on toast (dry)
Richer fish like monkfish and salmon (dry)
Scallops (dry)
Gravadlax (dry/off-dry)
Game pâtés (dry/off-dry)
Rich game birds such as pigeon and guinea fowl (dry/offdry)
Spicy chicken and pork dishes such as Chicken tikka masala (off-dry)
Thai curries with coconut (off-dry)
Warmer, richer meat curries such as rogan josh (off-dry)

Top pairings for Alsace Gewurztraminer
Almost always associated with Chinese and Indian food but it goes better with some dishes than others. (I wouldn’t drink Gewürz with dim sum for example) Again it can taste quite sweet, even if it’s not a Vendange Tardive.
In Alsace
Foie gras (off-dry)
Munster cheese (dry/off-dry)
Other good matches
Other washed rind cheeses such as Epoisses, Maroilles and Stinking Bishop (dry/off-dry)
Lobster with ginger (dry)
Hotter Szechuan and Korean dishes (off-dry)
Laksa and other spicy dishes with coconut milk and lemongrass (dry/off-dry)
Roast duck or duck curries (dry/off-dry)
Roast goose (dry/off-dry)
Apple crumble or streudel cakes with cinnamon (works with off-dry Gewürz, doesn’t have to be late-harvest)
Desserts with mango or other tropical fruits (off-dry)

Best pairings for Alsace Pinot Blanc
An underrated and versatile wine which unfortunately tends to be far more expensive here than it does in Alsace. (So do other wines but you notice it particularly with Pinot Blanc.) That said it’s a reliable and affordable wine on restaurant wine lists - a good all-rounder.
In Alsace
Onion tart
Tarte flambée - pizza-like tart with onions and sour cream
Quiche Lorraine - and other quiches
Ham and cheese salads
Other good matches
The sort of dishes with which you’d pair a light unoaked Chardonnay or a smooth dry Italian white like Soave. So risottos and pastas with creamy sauces or spring vegetables work well.
Simple seafood dishes
Fish pie, fishcakes
Omelettes, frittatas
Tartiflette (cheese and potato bake from Savoie)

Best pairings for Alsace Sylvaner
Many of the dishes that go with a dry to off-dry riesling will go with a dry Sylvaner though it generally doesn’t have Riesling’s purity and minerality. Again it’s regarded as an inexpensive wine in Alsace though the best examples e.g. from Ostertag really show the grape’s potential.
In Alsace
A winstub (wine bar) wine drunk with light snacks such as salads, cold meats and tarte flambée (dry)
Choucroute (dry)
Other good matches
You could drink it with similar dishes to a dry Riesling. It’s a good match for Westernised versions of dishes like stir fries or noodles that have an Asian influence but are not particularly spicy or authentic.

Best pairings for Alsace Muscat
There are some splendid muscats in Alsace but I don’t personally find it as interesting or versatile as Gewürztraminer. Probably best as an aperitif
In Alsace
The classic - and very good - pairing is white asparagus, usually with some kind of buttery sauce or with smoked ham (off-dry)
Smoked cheeses (off-dry)
Other good matches
Works in a similar way to Gewürztraminer with Asian-style dishes
Fresh fruit salads particularly with tropical fruits (off-dry)

If you have other favourite matches do write and tell me at or send me a message on Twitter where I tweet as @winematcher.

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