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Wines Of Alsace: Always A Good Choice

Sat, 03/01/2014

Wines from the Alsace region hold a special distinction in my life of discovering and enjoying wine. I became acquainted with these wines about 20 years ago as I was developing my appreciation for wine by trying various wines from regions throughout the world. Of course given this time was transitional for me and my unseasoned palette, I usually selected white wines which were fruity or semi-sweet and a step above the commercial grade wine I had largely consumed before my taste for wine had evolved. Hmm, does this scenario sound familiar to anyone?

On one occasion while shopping for wine, a salesperson suggested that I try a Pinot Blanc from Alsace. He offered his suggestion after I recited to him my limited knowledge about wine and generally the type of wine I both enjoyed (remember fruity and semi-sweet) and those I had a penchant for drinking.The salesperson suggested that I try a wine from Alsace. He would describe the profile of this Pinot Blanc he selected as soft, with light acidity and easy drinking. He nailed it! The Pinot Blanc was perfectly balanced for my youthful palette with a subtle fruitiness, a delightful finish and great mouth feel.
I continue to drink wines from Alsace to this day. It is easy for me to enjoy their freshness and approachable nature especially during the warm days of summer. However, they are quite compatible with a range of seasonal dishes year round and can be enjoyed during cooler weather with seafood, pasta and poultry fare. Many consider Gewurztraminer the perfect wine for pairing with Thai food.
The Alsace region is located on the Eastern border of France and on the West Bank of the upper Rhine adjacent to Germany and Switzerland. It is likely most people know of many of this regions wines while not knowing of the region from which they originate from. Alsace wines are designated by its seven main grape varietals. They are: Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling,Gewurztraminer, Muscat d’ Alscace, Sylvander and Pinot Noir. The Alsace region also produces a sparkling wine; Cremant d’ Alsace which is made from often combining these varietals as a base and includes Chardonnay. 
Typically, wines from Alsace are white and represent about 90% of the wines produced in the region. Generally, the wines are soft with subtle fruit and quite delicate. The one exception for this characteristic would be Gewurztraminer which are noted as full bodied, spicy and possess a complexity with licorice accents. The general nature of these wines and their soft and subtle fruit make them appealing for a wide range of consumer palettes. I frequently suggest these wines as a perfect next level for those who are at early stages of developing their appreciation for wine. However, I am never reluctant to offer them for seasoned and mature palettes for those who are quite knowledgeable about wine.    
While working as a wine retail salesperson later in life I would encounter many customers who themselves were seeking a wine experience which they too would find transitional; a wine to present at a dinner party or to a friend with a taste for wine which they were uncertain about. I would guess that 90% of the time I would suggest a Pinot Blanc or another wine from the Alsace region. Many of those customers would later return and purchase another bottle and extend a heartfelt thanks.
I wish I could thank that salesperson from 20 years ago!