Wine tour to Alsace, with wine, food and beautiful landscapes
It is strange this thing with, Alsace and Alsatian wines. But you cannot help loving them, and all the gastronomic goodies from the region. As well as the beautiful landscape and all to pretty, story-book villages.
It is strange this thing with Alsace. When I started to learn about wine a few years ago (quite a few years) Alsace wines were very popular in Sweden, where I was at the time. Very popular!
When you start to try and get your head around wine, tastes and tasting wines Alsace wines are so friendly and helpful. The wines have very distinct characters. Typical varietal characters. Rose water in gewurztraminer. Green apples and steeliness, and high acidity, in the rieslings.
Here in France, where I am now, Alsace is a little known wine region. It is rare to see any Alsace wines prominently displayed on any restaurant wine list. Sometimes you can find them by the glass in cafés, but as often in cafés the wines by the glass is usually not something to write home about.
Unfortunately we drink far too little Alsace wines since we came to France. A bit of a contradiction, isn’t it? But it is precisely because they are hard to find. At least the good ones. (Perhaps all the other countries have bought it all?)
Perhaps the reason is that Alsace does not really feel quite like a French wine region. It is more Germanic. But on the other hand, if you look at it from the other side of the border, from Germany, Alsace is definitely not Germany but very French.
Well, Alsace is simply Alsace!
Good quality Alsatian wines can be magnificent wines! With a wonderful acidity and fresh fruit when young. At a certain age (indefinable, like the age of some ladies) the suddenly flip over and become very different. They become round, honey smooth wonders but still with a very good and fresh acidity. Sometimes with this “petroleum” character, especially if it is riesling, that many commentators turn themselves into knots to explain. Delicious! That too!
But Alsace is not just wine. Alsace has a very unique and own gastronomy even if it is perhaps so famous that one does not always remember that it is Alsatian. Let me start with the sauerkraut. Do you think it sound terrible? So did I. Or so I though once upon a time.
Today I would consider choucroute as one of France’s great gastronomic dishes. Wonderfully refreshing with its acidic edge. Not at all heavy (that’s all the potatoes that come with it). With a sausage (made with plenty of real meat of course), pork of different kinds, yes, one or two potatoes, and other good things. Mustard? Why not. Yummy!
And then we have the burning pie. Tarte flambée, or flammekuechen, better described as a wafer think pizza. But still totally different from pizza.
Or at the haute cuisine end of the scale (albeit perhaps not so PC in some misguided or misinformed circles) the foie gras, the delicious fat liver, more often made from duck than from goose. It goes perfectly with a glass of vendange tardive.
Don’t forget the cheeses (a Munster with a glass of gewurztraminer?), the charcuterie, the stews, the fish, the fruit brandies (eau de vie de mirabelles, from the tiny yellow plums!), etc, etc!
If you have never been to Alsace you have missed some of the most extraordinary little cute villages. Must be among the most picturesque in the world. As you can tell from the word, they look as if they were cut from a picture in some children’s fairy tale. Filled with 18th century (perhaps older?) half-timbered houses. Not one or two houses, it is entire villages! How they can have survived all the wars that have plagued this region is incomprehensible.
So, why this oration about Alsace?
Well, we have just published a sample wine and food tour program to Alsace and I could not help being inspired. Our next tour to Alsace is planned for next autumn. I hope this little Alsace story will make you inspired too!