The Best Wines to Pair with Fondue
Not that we need an excuse to celebrate wine and cheese, one of the world’s greatest, most timeless pairings, in honor of National Cheese Fondue Day on Saturday, we’ve rounded up the hottest spots to savor your favorite melted curds and their pairing partners. Plus, some stellar at-home matches you can dip into anytime.
Here, at one of New York City’s famous fromage purveyors, traditionalists will fall for the granddaddy of melted cheese dips, a Swiss-style blend of cave-aged Gruyère, Champagne and a dash of freshly grated nutmeg. The fondue is served with brioche and cornichons ($14 for two, $24 for four). Aged in Murray’s subterranean cheese caves for 12 months, the fragrant wheels set this classic apart from the competition.
The Pour: Domaine de Beudon 2007 Fendant (Valais)
“The Chasselas grape, widely grown in Switzerland, is a traditional wine usually enjoyed with fondue. This is a geeky pairing for us tradition enthusiasts. The nose on this Fendant is honey, yet the wine has a beautiful minerality and dry finish. A tiny bit of earthy, smokiness in the background.”—Rachel Freier, cheese & wine program manager, Murray’s Cheese Bar
Keeping with the Swiss theme, drink Fendant with a semi-hard Alpine cow’s milk raclette. Murray’s recommends the Spring Brook Farm Reading Raclette as a stateside alternative.
Queso fundido is the spicy member of the fondue club, and the complex flavored, modern Mexican interpretation ($10) doesn’t disappoint at this trendy surf lodge. Spiked with pork belly, pineapple and habanero mustard, the dip (made with Oaxaca, queso fresco and cotija cheeses) explodes with a fatty, spicy-sweet punch, best scooped up with crisp tortillas.
The Pour: Avancia 2013 Godello (Valdeorras)
“The ripe apricot, Bosc pear and fragrant candied citrus fruits heighten the queso fundido and balance its creamy richness with firm acidity, not unlike the purpose of the pineapple in the dish. The beautiful chunks of smoky pork belly integrate well with the brief amount of oak-aging this wine sees, and the unmistakable mineral-laced finish shines through to prompt your mouth for another bite.” —Scott Young, director of operations, BlackHouse Hospitality Group
To balance a moderately oaked white, try a triple-cream or a farmhouse cheddar cheese.
Photo by Lanewood Studio
Inspired by childhood trips to the village of Chamonix in Haute-Savoie, Switzerland, owners Bruce and Eric Bromberg developed this decadent fondue. While traditional, it’s by no means boring: Gruyère, Jarlsberg and Emmentaler, with cherry kirsch and a Chardonnay-Viognier blend from La Ferme Saint Pierre. It’s accompanied by chewy chunks of yeasty country bread from the bakery’s brick oven.
The Pour: Domaine Meyer-Fonné 2012 Kaefferkopf Grand Cru Pinot Gris (Alsace)
“Fondue is rich. Of course, that’s kind of the point, but it does mean you need a wine that can match it in richness. Alsatian whites provide an ideal counterpoint, with enough body, acidity and a little sugar to hold up to all that molten cheese. Domaine Meyer-Fonné is one of the top producers in the region year in, year out, and they make a 2012 Pinot Gris from a Grand Cru vineyard called Kaefferkopf that is as perfect an example as you’ll find. It’s full of ripe pear and apple fruit, savory mineral character and a honeyed finish that will keep your palate fresh between bites of fondue.” —Sam Ehrlich, wine director, Blue Ribbon Restaurants
A Pinot Gris can take on a full-flavored hard cheese like an aged Gruyére.
The nutty flavors of aged Fiscalini cheddar, earthy, unctuous bone marrow and shavings of black Perigord truffle compose this warm, indulgent dip. It’s occasionally served as a course on the eatery’s modern American prix fixe menu ($110–$150 per person), a supper-club concept that features two seatings each evening, with 12–18 courses.
The Pour: Scholium Project 2008 Marcher Sur la Lune, Verdelho (Lodi)
“The cheddar and bone marrow fondue has an intense richness and cheese rind funk to it, and the barrel-aged Verdelho’s aromatic composition really mirrors that. With such a rich and mouthfilling dish, you want a wine pairing with refreshing acidity and minerality to cleanse the palate after each bite. As for the shaved truffles to finish, this Verdelho has a very sensual and voluptuous texture, bringing out a very long and savory finish to the dish.” —Conor Carroll, sommelier, Lazy Bear
Carroll suggests a pairing a Verdelho with a Cabot Creamery Clothbound 12- to 14-month aged cheddar, made from a single herd of Holstein cows in Vermont, if Fiscalini cheddar can’t be found.
This quaint, art-inflected café has served authentic “fast and French” meals for three decades, and its Fondue Thursday is as popular as ever. A standout is the blue cheese fondue ($16), a traditional blend of Gruyére, kirsch and dry white wine, upgraded with delicately funky cow’s milk Bleu d’Auvergne and served alongside crudités and baguette.
“I always recommend the bold Saint-Émilion Bordeaux with the blue cheese fondue. It cuts through the earthy tones and brings out the floral qualities of the Bleu d’Auvergne cheese.” —Lawrence Mitchell, co-owner, Gaulart & Maliclet
A hard cheese like a Manchego or Pecorino can stand up to a big, tannic Bordeaux blend.
Top Chef star Tom Colicchio’s New York City-based hotspot is the more casual sister to his other dining concepts, rounding out its expansive cheese offerings with an Italian spin on fondue. In the Pecorino Fundita ($13), hard, salty Pier Franco Pecorino is melted down and crowned with honey, toasted pine nuts and chili flakes for an irresistible dichotomy of salty and sweet.
The Pour: Valdespino NV Tio Diego Amontillado Sherry, Jerez
“We find that this crisp, slightly oxidized, yet rich with butterscotch wine complements all of the same flavors and textures as the creamy, nutty, salty, gooey fondue. The acid in the Sherry certainly whisks away the fattiness of the cheese, but the fun of this pairing is that the saltiness of the food begs for more of saltiness in the wine, and vise versa.” –Cyndra Rook, general manager, Craftbar
Tame the sharp bite of a hard provolone with an Amontillado Sherry.
Photo by Mark Jordan
- 1Champagne Alpine-Style Fondue at Murray’s Cheese Bar, New York City
- 2Mexican Queso Fundido at Día de Campo, Hermosa Beach, California
- 3Traditional Swiss Fondue at Blue Ribbon Brasserie, New York City
- 4Bone Marrow and Cheddar Fondue at Lazy Bear, San Francisco
- 5Blue Cheese Fondue at Gaulart & Maliclet, Charleston, SC
- 6Italian Pecorino Fundita at Craftbar, New York City