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The best wines to go with cheese fondue and raclette

Cheese fondue and raclette are classic winter dishes that create a festive atmosphere. Both specialities should always be served with a suitable wine. We deliver the best pairings.
These are Swiss national dishes. Popular in winter, cheese fondue and raclette are often prepared on cold days. Melted cheese from the pot, or raclette with its nutty flavours, served with potatoes: these specialities can be paired with several different wines. Whites tend to be the most popular, but it takes only a little extra courage to experience new flavours with red crus. Swiss-grown wines are clearly the front runners, but some varieties from abroad are well worth trying.
The classic accompaniment to various interpretations of cheese fondue and raclette is of course Chasselas, which is marketed as Fendant in Valais and interpreted slightly differently in Vaud depending on its origin. A Dézaley or Saint-Saphorin from Lavaux is more complex than a fresh, light Mont-sur-Rolle from La Côte. In any case the acidity is moderate, so the wine can easily withstand the melted cheese.
Other varieties can also be combined with these cheese specialities. Why not try a Petite Arvine or Humagne Blanche? The white wines of the Valais, full of character, are an excellent match – tempting you to try new taste experiences. If you want to go one step further, you can even go for a red. This combination was frowned on in this country for a long time – quite unfairly. However, the wine should meet certain requirements: fruity, rather light, few tannins and no use of barriques. A Pinot noir from German-speaking Switzerland is just as good with raclette and cheese fondue as the popular classic Dôle from Valais, often a blend of at least 85% Pinot noir and Gamay.
Purists and nationalists may turn up their noses. But alternatively you can try a foreign variety for a change, especially since cheese fondue originates from the Western Alps (French-speaking Switzerland, Savoie, Piedmont, the Aosta Valley). The choice of wine should be guided by the same criteria: not too opulent, not too acidic, not too tannic. As for whites, an Arneis from Piedmont is a good choice – and so is a Pinot Gris from Alsace or Germany. If you prefer red, stick to Pinot Noir from the same country or try a fruity Zweigelt from Austria. Whether you choose a Swiss or foreign wine, you should never compromise on quality.
Peter Keller, Mondovino expert and wine academic


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