|1. GrünerVeltliner||2. Riesling||3. Chenin Blanc|
Just hearing the word “fondue” makes you realize it has been far too long since you tasted this traditional Swiss dish. You dust off your caquelon or fondue pot and seek out recipes for this creamy, cheesy grub.
Indeed, the most renowned fondue is the kind made from a mix of hard and soft cheeses like Gruyere and Brie. These are carefully melted down in a caquelon with other ingredients that help create its smooth, velvety texture.
Little surprise that for a dish that works so well, fondue lovers have experimented with other popular ingredients to create dishes that bring together all of the features that make cheese fondue such a success; a delicious taste, the fun of sharing with others, and the chance to be creative with all the nibbles needed for dipping.
The upshot is that, as well as cheese fondue, there is chocolate fondue, fondue bourguignonne where strips of raw meat are dipped in hot, seasoned oil, and fondue chinoise, where pre-cooked meat is made into a thick, tasty stew.
For this best wine for fondue guide though, we are going to indulge cheese lovers. Cheese fondue includes a touch of starch, wine, and even cherry liqueur, all of which give it its silky texture. But cheese is the dominant and scrumptious ingredient which makes it nice and simple to pair with wine. Cheese is savory and fatty, so the obvious wine option is a crisp, acidic dry or off-dry white. Fortunately, there are plenty of those beauties around made with different varietals in diverse styles. Certain reds, especially young fruity styles, are also a good match.
A word of caution; when you make your fondue, use a crisp, dry, white wine in the mix. Also keep in mind what you will be dipping into your thick, cheesy broth. Bread is a given, and a variety of nibbles like cherry tomatoes, roasted baby potatoes, pickles, and bacon bites are ideal for dunking. The following wines will complement the entire lovely dish beautifully.
Table of Contents
Top 5 Best Wine Grapes For Fondue 2021
1. Grüner Veltliner
First up as the best wine for cheese fondue is the famed grape from Austria, Grüner Veltliner. A fine blend of citrus, apple, and white pepper with delicate herbaceous aromas, this monovarietal wine has the last sharp acidity to cut through the creamy cheese of fondue without masking its delicious savory flavors.
Grown all over the country, premium grapes are grown in the Wachau region on steep terraces oriented to the south. The style from this region is acidic and concentrated.
Hailing from this very area is Gritsch Mauritiushof Kirchpoint Grüner Velt. When you are planning a fondue night, make sure you get a few bottles in stock. This Grüner Veltliner has had gentle handling in the winery to preserve the delicate qualities of the fruit and to create a clean, acidic wine that goes hand in glove with a cheese fondue. This classic Veltliner boasts crisp orchard fruit that pairs perfectly with the mix of cheeses and nutty hints that add depth to each mouthful. A touch of citrus and fine minerality make this the best wine for fondue.
What a fine, stately grape Riesling is. It flourishes in cool climates and is produced in a range of classic styles from sweet to bone dry. It is planted in Old World Regions Austria, Alsace, and Germany, plus the Clare and Eden Valleys, Marlborough, Central Otago, and Washington in the New World. Out of its varied styles, its dry, acidic expression with hints of lime, apricot, and beeswax is the best wine for cheese fondue.
In Germany where Riesling reigns supreme over other grape varietals, the word “Trocken” on a label means “dry”. Many of these styles are found in the Rheingau and Pfalz regions and wineries operating under the exclusive VDP classification system often favor dry expressionsofRiesling.
Rummel Pfalz Trocken Riesling is dry, medium-bodied, and has just enough acidity to stand up to the creamy, weight of cheese fondue. For a clean, incisive match to this Swiss dish, you can also try Schumann Nägler Cuvée Rheingau Riesling Sekt Trocken. Its bright lime, peach, and melon notes and a fine backbone of mineral acidity make it just the thing you want to sip as you are dipping your bread and potatoes into that mini cauldron of melted Gruyere.
If you feel adventurous and want to pair a centuries-old traditional European dish with a wine from the New World, try Ellero Pisa Terrace Central Otago Riesling. Its light clear-cut expression complements the buttery notes in the fondue with dreamy deliciousness. Eroica Xlc Dry Riesling is also heavenly with its petrol tones that, who would have thought it, match the richness of the mixed cheeses.
3. Chenin Blanc
The home of this grape variety is the Middle Loire Valley in France where it is made in a range of dry and sweet styles bursting with edgy personality. Also cultivated widely in South Africa and Australia, it expresses in a lightly honeyed style making it the best wine for fondue.
This Famille Bougrier Grande Réserve Chenin Blanc Vouvray is just perfect for a pot of cheese fondue. It has brilliant acidity which makes it an automatic winner for this buttery, Swiss recipe plus its tad off-dry character and light body allow the lavish flavors of the cheese to shine.
What about bubbles? Sparkling wine is surely a heavenly match for the rich, comfort food of cheese fondue. Indeed, it is and if its grape is Chenin Blanc, all the better. Voyager Estate Project Sparkling Chenin Blanch as the gentle citrus, red apple, and bracing lemonade tones to balance the plush, creamy flavors in cheese fondue and even a few hints of fresh bread to complement the dipping goodies. Early ripening adds a refreshing seam of acidity to this organically farmed fruit.
South African Chenin Blanc is also a fine accompaniment for cheese fondue. A light, dry, highly acidic style with a hint of creaminess is a match made in wine heaven.
Common food and wine pairing wisdom say that cheese loves red wine. It is true that these two favorites go well together but to really fine-tune such a pairing, you need to look at their finer characteristics.
A fondue with a classic mix of Gruyere, Brie, and Emmental cheeses will beg for a Beaujolais. Why? The combined mildness, cream, and sweetness of the cheeses make an ideal match for the light, carefree, fruity personality of this popular French wine made from the Gamay grape.
A wine with a lively acidic profile like Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages is the best wine for cheese fondue. This red holds the heavy, creaminess of fondue in the same way white wine with high acidity does and adds strawberry, raspberry, and plum along with notes of cheese and even banana. It is a light, pretty, fruity red that complements the fondue and its dipping bites but never overpowers like a heavier red would.
Cheese fondue is real winter food so if you are enjoying it in November, you can go for Beaujolais’ younger cousin, Beaujolais Nouveau. It has similar characteristics to the regular wine but is younger (only a few months old in fact) and its anaerobic fermentation means bright clean fruit tones. It also boasts high acidity and a smooth palate that goes well with creamy, cheesy cuisine.
It is best to pick and choose Beaujolais Nouveau when it is released to much aplomb in November; it is not a wine for aging as it stands on its reputation for freshness. Many producers offer a nouveau style when its special time rolls around, so take your pick.
5. Pinot Noir
Another red that complements cheese fondue is the light, acidic, fruit-forward Pinot Noir. A fussy little grape that loves cool climates, it is the signature varietal of Burgundy in France and also does well in parts of New Zealand Oregon, and even the chillier corner of California.
The profile of Pinot Noir encompasses trademark features like high acidity which cheesy dishes adore, lasting fruitiness balanced by dryness, and a smooth palate.
A light red like Rapaura Springs Marlborough Pinot Noir is the best wine for fondue. It has dark cherry and raspberry fruit shining throughout with a tad of spice to complement the creaminess of this winter dish. Its medium to high acidity and dry personality make this cheese dish go down a treat.
Cheese fondue is a versatile dish for wine pairing as its ingredients match a good range of whites and reds. Just remember that good acidity, lightness, a touch of fruit, and a dry to an off-dry character will fit the bill.
By the way, there is some interesting etiquette that surrounds sharing a caquelon of fondue. If a man loses his bread in its cheesy depths, he has to buy a bottle of wine. Well gentlemen, at least now you know which wine to get!