Open the bottle to try the flavours of German wine names with an Alsace twist

Wines from the Alsace region.

Wines from the Alsace region. - Credit: Archant

Aromatic, fruity, stylish, luscious are all descriptions that can be applied to the wines of Alsace, suggesting they are quality wines worth drinking. However, they are often described as wine trade wines as those working in the industry are most likely to drink them based on knowledge of their delicious taste.

Despite enjoying them it is difficult to persuade wine drinkers to buy them often, even after tasting and enjoying them.

One reason for the reticence to buy are the tall bottles used for these wines reminiscent of those used in the past for cheap German wines which are off-putting to many wine drinkers.

This is a result of the region’s history as it passed from France to Germany and vice-versa several times. Traditionally German wines have been bottled in tall bottles and this tradition has been incorporated into the Appellation Controlee laws of Alsace where they are commonly called flutes d’Alsace.

Alsace was one of the first French wine growing region to use the name of the grape on the label, it has been approved in the Alsace wine laws unlike in other areas of France until recently. Ironically, as the region uses mainly German grape varieties it is another contributing factor to the indifference of consumers as again they are reminiscent of the sweeter cheap German wines.

Most of the wines produced in Alsace are white using aromatic grape varieties that produce distinctive characterful still and sparkling wines. The Gewurztraminer grape variety is often synonymous with Alsace where it has a high profile and is widely grown.

Many people have a love-hate relationship with its wines due the perfumed aromas of lychees and spice with rose petal (Turkish Delight) overtones and lemony freshness on the palate such as the Turckheim Co-op’s Reserve wine made near Colmar.

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Unlike German Rieslings those from Alsace have a pure fruit driven nose, perfumed with citrussy fruit notes and a fruity palate with white peach flavours and mineral complexity and a dry style.

Two other grapes are widely grown in Alsace – firstly, the Pinot Blanc from which is made the most delicate of the region’s wines with a light peachy, citrus scent and a silky ripe fruity taste. Secondly, the

Pinot Gris which is rich ripe and rounded though still dry with a lovely textured flavour and a long slightly smoky finish.

The Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris grapes also make high quality dessert wines called Vendange Tardive or late harvest and Selection de Grains Nobles with grapes are affected by noble rot.

The wines of Alsace can be enjoyed as an aperitif or with food. They are a great match to some of the full flavours of warming winter dishes such as shepherd’s pie, fish pie or Cullen skink as they have a mellow mid palate though balanced with some minerality. The richer styles are also great with paté.

Try the Alsace version of these German sounding names for a great flavour to taste and enjoy.