Christmas Fondue Wine Pairing

Turkey, ham, and prime rib are all holiday favorites but what about fondue? This year we invited our wine buddies for Christmas dinner and decided to do something non-traditional especially since having Christmas dinner without our children and their families was different for both ourselves and our friends. The decision was made to have a variety of foods with wine to match.

We decided to have a fondue dinner with cheese, shrimp, chicken, beef and chocolate for desert. To select our wines we went to our “well-worn” wine pairing book What to Drink with What You Eat and picked four wines for our fondue menu: Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé, Beaujolais and a sparkling wine for dessert. With our list made up we visited The Caviste wine store in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and asked for recommendations from its owner, Russ Anderson. He helped us choose:

    Les Granges Paquenesses Savagnin “La Pierre” Cotes du Jura 2011 ($23.40)
    Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie Rosé des Glacieres 2009 ($14.40)
    Broc Cellars Vine Starr Zinfandel, Sonoma County 2012 ($25.20)
    Domaine Renardat-Fache, Bugey-Cerdon (Sparkling Rosé) ($18.00)

The menu required four fondue pots, three main course selections, and nine sauces. We started with a cheese fondue of Gruyere cheese flavored with shallots and white wine and accompanied by pieces of French baguette for dipping. The wine was a full bodied, creamy Savagnin that really paired well. This was followed by shrimp, chicken, and beef all of which could be cooked in either chicken broth or peanut oil. The sauces included Thai peanut, honey mustard, sweet and sour, horseradish, cocktail, hoisin, Roquefort butter, curry, and wasabi. Served with the main course selections were raw broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms, baby carrots, and grape tomatoes, which could be cooked, dipped in the cheese fondue, or eaten with any of the sauces. The wines served were the Rosé for the shrimp and chicken and the Zinfandel for the beef. These two wines were poured at the onset of the main course and the diners could choose which wine was best with each combination of sauce and food. We did run out of the Zinfandel and added a Meandro Do Vale Meao 2008 from the wine cellar. It also paired well with the beef and added another delicious wine to the dinner.

Dessert was chocolate fondue with strawberries, fresh pineapple, pound cake, granny smith apple slices, marshmallows and bananas but no one had the bananas because I forgot to put them on the table. That’s what wine will do to you! The dessert, of course, had its own wine, a Sparking Rosé. All the wines paired exceptionally well with the food and because each wine was in a separate glass, tasting different wines with different food and sauce combinations really added to the fun.

As the meal drew to an end we did have a bottle of Bodegas Cesar Florido Moscatel Pasas along with some Broadbent Madeira. Both delicious and a perfect ending to a GREAT fondue wine pairing dinner.

Would we do it again? In a flash! We sat down at 2 p.m. and did not get up until 10:30 or 11:30 depending on which diner you were watching. Yes, we consumed a lot of wine but over a very long time so hopefully no damage was done. Eating fondue is a very interactive process and encourages good conversation so I found it hard to believe that I sat at the table eating and sipping for over eight hours. True, I faded earliest and fell asleep while the other three soldiered on for an extra hour or so but heck, I only weigh 107 lbs. Our guests stayed overnight to avoid the late night drive home, and got up early the next morning to go to work. It was a totally enjoyable and memorable day for us and we look forward to doing it again. What a great opportunity to enjoy an array of new wines as well as great conversation with good friends!