Having trouble tracking down a Fendant du Valais for your next raclette party? Me too. That’s why I recently turned my attention to suitable alternatives.
Just as traditions endure for many reasons, they evolve over time for other reasons. The centuries-old history of raclette entertaining is steeped in tradition at every level, from how raclette cheese is made to customary accompaniments consumed with the cheese.
Once the edible standards like charcuterie and cornichons are assembled, it’s natural for considerations to turn toward what to drink with the meal. Whereas a warm beverage like tea is an established norm, so too is wine – in particular, a Swiss white called Fendant du Valais. As happens with even the oldest traditions, though, raclette wine pairing is evolving, due to the often hard-to-locate nature of this wine for those residing in areas outside the region where it is produced.
The following eight white wine varieties are more likely to be available at your neighborhood wine shop. These widely accessible varieties offer up a range of tastes and aromas, with enough acidity to cut through the richness of your typical raclette meal and complement its eclectic flavors with their own.
Crisp and light-bodied, this white produced in Spain’s northwestern region of Rias Baixas is characterized by intense flashes of peach and apricot on the palate and a botanical nose that sings with essences white flowers and minerals. This is a high-acidity varietal best enjoyed young; however, a bit of oak aging has been known to yield benefits regarding its richness of flavor and aromatics.
Lychee, rose petals, and baking spices like nutmeg and cinnamon are just a few of the aromas that perfume this medium-to-low acidity, high-alcohol Alsatian white.
This Austrian wine’s flavors can range from green grapes, stone fruits, and white pepper when young to notes of toast and garden vegetables as it matures. Assertive minerality and structure can be achieved when it is grown on the right kind of soil.
Picpoul de Pinet
This wine’s delicate citrus-floral nose and freshness on the palate are balanced by pronounced acidity and minerality that allow it to stand up to rich, creamy dishes like raclette. Deft lemon notes on the palate make it an ideal match for deli meats and seafood as well as mild and flavorful cheeses. Drink this one young.
The best Alsatian renderings of this wine serve up dry, full-bodied richness with pronounced impressions of dried pears, apples, and honeysuckle. High alcohol content laced with suggestions of smoke balance its honeyed essences, making for a well-rounded flavor palate to pair with your meal’s variety of flavors and textures.
An aromatic wine boasting high acidity that makes its best iterations suitable for ageing. Intimations of smoke and honey lend complexity to notes of apple, green grapes, and even petrol in this most famous and most widely planted of German grape varieties.
With a nose often compared to the fruity, floral Gerwurtztraminer or Muscat, this Argentinian wine mainly grown in Mendoza is one that doesn’t grow old with grace. Within a year of vintage is the best time to savor its marked acidity and light-to-medium body with a hot plate of potatoes, deli meats, and luxurious molten cheese.
Always white, always made from Chenin Blanc, this wine is produced in a variety of styles ranging from still to sparkling and from dry to sweet. The high calcium content of the chalky limestone soil in which the grapes thrive allows them to retain a good deal of acidity as they ripen. Due to this significant natural acidity, the wine ages well, developing complex notes of smoke and mineral. These integrate well to produce a rounder, richer wine that plays nicely with the smoky notes found in the dried and cured meats often eaten with raclette.
Choosing any of the white wines assembled here is a surefire way to liven up your next raclette party. They run the gamut from fruity to spicy and mineral to floral; you and your guests will able to enjoy this wealth of wine pairings without having to fly to Switzerland to find them.
[Top image: Pixabay]
This article first appeared on Raclette.ca, in an article titled The 8 Best White Wines To Enjoy At Your Next Raclette Party.