Vouvray Wines: Tasting and Pairing Suggestions
It was some years ago–when I was a member of a group of teenagers bicycling through the Loire Valley–that I discovered Vouvray wines. The setting was idyllic. We camped in the Loire Valley after a day of bicycling through the countryside. We would make stops every day to see the world famous Loire chateaux.
One evening we were making our own dinner, and I was charged with buying the wine. We had some fresh French bread, paté, and canned beets for dinner. Goat cheese was our dessert.
Here’s what I knew: the beets would be cooked with white vinegar, sugar, cornstarch and spices. The wine that I bought at a small countryside store was Vouvray. It was inexpensive, rather sweet, but–I was assured–full of flavor and character. But would it go with the dinner?
It was a delicious combination, one of the best food and wine combinations I have ever enjoyed. I discovered Vouvray–from the Chenin Blanc grape–has a natural acidity and flavor. It goes well with sweeter dishes. I have since remembered that pleasant dinner for the balance of food and wine.
True, this is a wine tending towards sweetness, with gradations of flavor sweetness.
- sec (dry)
- demi-sec (somewhat less dry)
- moelleux (sweet)
- and doux (more so)
If you enjoy sweet wines, then that is a reason to taste Vouvray. For this particular Loire Valley wine is probably best known for its sweet taste. It can age for a long time, and has been made for centuries. It is even said that the wine cellars of the region were quarried to provide stone for the famous Loire Valley castles.
If you are just discovering sweet wines, then you owe it to your palate to try Vouvray. You will discover that this wine is best tasted with food. And often best with food that does not pair well with other wines. There is a boldness of flavor about Vouvray. It has tasting notes of pears, figs and honey, that seeks a counterpart.
Vouvray Wines for the Main Course:
- You could also pair it with baked ham. (If you have flavored the ham with whiskey, or perhaps brown sugar or half a cup of maple syrup).
- Vouvray goes particularly well with Chinese food, such as orange beef. To my palate, it matches better with Chinese foods than Alsatian gewürztraminer wines, which are often recommended as a match.
- The possibilities for food matching continue. Try it with sautéed gingered pork medallions.
- Or perhaps one of my favorite dishes, butternut squash soup.
- But for a special treat, serve it with Peking Duck. The dinner of roasted duck, plum sauce, green onions and Mandarin pancakes, is set off perfectly by the flavors of a well-chosen Vouvray (Gaston Huet, Vouvray Demi-Sec Le Clos de Bourg 2009, $30).
Vouvray Wines for Dessert:
- It goes well with goat cheese, another treat from the Loire Valley.
- Domaine Vaufiget Vouvray (2013, $11.50) has been praised as a match for fine goat cheeses.
- Closer to home, I would recommend a semi-sweet Vouvray wine with something with a tang to it, such as a freshly homemade lemon meringue pie.
- At Thanksgiving we prefer a pumpkin chiffon pie, and Vouvray would balance that dessert – or mince tarts – very well indeed. The range of possibilities is up to you.
And the good news is that as more wine lovers discover this fine wine and explore its tasting possibilities, Vouvray is still a low-cost treat. In addition to the wines already mentioned,
- try a Barton & Guestier Vouvray (2010, $11.50)
- or a Vouvray Champalou (2013, $18.50)
You will soon be comparing ways to enjoy Vouvray with your delighted dinner guest friends.