04/26/06 – Alsace

By Jesse on April 24, 2006


This week is absolutely absurd and awesome for so many reasons.  First of all, the meeting is going to be held in the old Pabst brewery.  Oh, and it actually might be on the ROOF of the old Pabst brewery…. we’ll have to see how warm it is outside.  Also, later this week, Vendome is doing a very cool tasting that everyone should attend: wines for the grill, the perfect bottles to match with all of your barbecue food this summer.  Can’t wait.  Also, the Young Winos might get a mention in the Detroit Free Press.  Yeah, I know, insanity.  I’ll explain it all at the meeting.  But you want to know the most unequivocally awesome thing about this week?  Alsace, that’s what.

It’s pretty tiny, but Alsace is one of the most important French regions and also one of the most accessible; the wines exported to America are generally very well-priced.  Alsace produces 93% white and is the source of some of France’s best whites overall, so lets stick to whites in this meeting (a small amount of Pinot Noir is exported, but it’s hard to find).  The Wine Bible says that “a single, passionate philosophy pervades Alsace winemaking: to create wines with pure fruit flavors.”  Many of them have a certain spiciness to them, and most of them are dry, not sweet.

Unlike most of France, Alsace labels its wines by grape type.  YESSS.  Awesome.  Thank you, France, for occasionally displaying to the rest of the world a modicum of humility.  Also, all Alsace wines are sold in tall, thin bottles called “flutes” — another way to know you’re getting the right region.  The grapes to watch for are:

PINOT BLANC: the lightest of the Alsace whites.  The best are “tasty with baked apple flavors and creamy texture.”

RIESLING: the region’s preeminent white grape is probably nothing like most of the sweet Riesling that’s sold in this country, because Alsace Rieslings are dry.  They have the potential for “remarkable complexity and dramatic fruit flavors.”

PINOT GRIS (also called TOKAY): not like the light Pinot Grigio we had in Italy, Alsace Pinot Gris has “depth and richness reminiscent of white Burgundy,” which is made from Chardonnay.

GEWURTZTRAMINER: my favorite Alsace white for it’s ridiculous fruity flavors, which can range from “grapefruit and fruit-cocktail syrup” to “honeysuckle, gingerbread, and vanilla.”  Wine for Dummies calls it “one of the most unique wines in the world.”

All of these wines should be fairly inexpensive and available at any wine shop (and grocery stores might have one or two).  Please remember to chill them if possible.  We’re meeting at Regan’s apartment in a building that used to be a Pabst brewery.  Seriously, I can’t wait to see this.  Bring a coat, because if the weather’s decent, there’s a patio on the roof with awesome views.  Here’s directions: (awesome address)

We will see you all (with your flutes of Alsatian goodness) Wednesday night at 9:00.