Whether you’re looking for a highbrow spread to impress your guests or you’re just in the need of a hearty, warm comfort treat, pairing fondue and wine is a choice that will leave everyone at the table happy and even impressed.
While a nice fondue spread and a good bottle of wine score a “home run” every time, there are a few details that could make the difference between a fantastic comfort meal and a mediocre one. First of all, you can’t just put together any bottle of wine with any fondue, even if both are fantastic on their own. There’s a bit more that goes into pairing these two essentials, and getting the pairing right is crucial.
Here are some of our favorite fondue and wine pairings guaranteed to hit the spot:
Tips for Pairing Cheese Fondue with Wine
When hearing the word fondue, many of us immediately think of a bubbling, molten pot of chocolate. We’ll get to that in a moment, but what the word originally referred to is its cheesy counterpart.
There are a few things to consider setting up a cheese fondue. First, not all cheese is made equal. You certainly shouldn’t be throwing slices of American cheese into a pot and melting it—well, unless you really want to, or you’re entertaining six-year-olds.
Traditionally, fondue is made with cheeses from Switzerland, either hard or semi-hard with a high fat content to make sure they melt beautifully. Gruyere, Fontina, Raclette, and Emmental are classic options. These cheeses are all fantastic on their own, but they do have very particular intensities and flavor profiles.
Emmental has a very light flavor profile, not offering too much flavor on its own in a fondue pot. Gruyere, on the other hand, is famously aggressive and rich, perhaps a bit too much to have on its own in the pot. For this same reason, a half and half, or moitié-moitié, mixture is prepared with half Gruyere and half Emmental. The delicate profile of the Emmental helps cut back the aggressive edge of the Gruyere to yield a delightful mixture.
Because of the richness of these cheeses, this fondue should be paired with a fairly acidic wine.
Here are some white wines to pair with your cheese fondue:
- Muscadet is one of our favorite options to accompany the classic cheesy richness.
- Picpoul de Pinet is another wonderful pairing.
- It’s important to choose a wine with nice acidity and not just any white wine—Chardonnay is a bit too rich and rivals the flavor of the meal, and Sauvignon Blanc’s herbal qualities don’t pair well, either.
If you absolutely must have a red wine, light red wines can pair well with these fondues. Full bodied, bold reds, however, do not get along with this meal.
Tips for Pairing Chocolate Fondue with Wine
Again, if red wine is an absolute must, maybe a chocolate fondue is what you’re after. A chocolate fondue and a glass of red wine is a match made in heaven.
Here, too, there are a few important things to keep in mind. For starters, with a wine and chocolate fondue setup, you’re going to want some pretty high quality chocolate.
You also definitely want to take into account how sweet your chocolate of choice is when making your selection of wine. Sweet chocolate is fine, but your choice of wine has to be just as sweet, if not a bit sweeter. If the gap between the sweetness of the wine and the sweetness of the chocolate is too big, the flavors won’t get along too kindly on your palate.
Here are some wines to pair with your chocolate fondue:
- If you’re going with white chocolate, choose something light and maybe even fruity. A fruity Chardonnay, a nice Moscato d’Asti, or a sweet Riesling make for a great pairing.
- If you choose to use milk chocolate, you’ll want a slightly drier pairing that isn’t too dry quite yet. A drier Riesling works here too, as well as a Pinot Noir or a Merlot.
- If you’re using Dark chocolate, you need something stronger to stand up to the bitterness. For dark chocolate stacking up below 70%, Cabernet Sauvignon pairs quite well. Chianti’s and Zinfandel’s do quite well as well.
- If you’re using dark chocolate with more than 70% cacao, you will need a bold, full-bodied red. A good bottle of Malbec or Bordeaux will get the job done.
The magic trick up your sleeve in case you don’t know what chocolate you’ll find is a good ol’ bottle of fortified wine. Port, for example, pairs well with any of the chocolate options in a unique, delicious way.
Which fondue do YOU do?