Updated July 18th 2023
To find the best wine for fondue, we need to distinguish between different types of this delicious Swiss dish. The three most common fondue types are cheese, meat and chocolate. In this wine guide you will find out which wine to pair with the different fondue types.
Fondue wine pairing is not very complicated, but you need to keep in mind that there are different types of fondue and they match with different types of wine. Fondue is a Swiss dish that is served in a communal pot over a portable stove. Its most common version is cheese fondue, which is basically a pot of melted cheese. This type pairs best with a white wine. Other popular fondues are the meat fondue and chocolate fondue. Find out which are the best wine pairings for different types of fondue.
Before we look into the best wine pairing for fondue, we should talk about the dish itself. In order to find the best wine for your food, you always need to consider the unique characteristics of both the food and the wine.
The simple way to describe fondue is a shared pot of melting cheese, oil, broth or chocolate. Depending on the type of fondue, different things can be dipped in the melting pot, such as potatoes or bread for cheese fondue, and fruits or pastries for chocolate fondue. Long handled forks or spears are used to dip the bread, fruits or meat into the hot mixture in the pot.
Cheese fondue is the original type of fondue. Since the 1950s, the term "fondue" has been generalized to other dishes where food is dipped in a pot with hot liquid. Today, there are several types of fondue and different interpretations of this Swiss dish. The most common types of fondue are:
Cheese fondue is the classic and most popular type of fondue. It is constituted by a communal pot (called caquelon) full with melting cheese over a portable stove. The melted cheese is usually Emmental, Gruyère, Vacherin or other Swiss cheese. The cheese is melted in the pot and mixed with white wine, garlic and spices such as nutmeg. Small cubes of bread or potatoes are dipped into the pot of melted cheese. This is a Swiss national dish since the 1930s.
Another popular fondue is meat fondue, where pieces of meat are cooked in hot oil or broth in the pot. This dish consists mainly of meats, but also vegetables and sauces. The meat and vegetables are cooked for 1-2 minutes by dipping in hot broth or oil. This type of fondue is usually called Fondue bourguignonne or Fondue Chinoise (Chinese fondue). Although cheese fondue is the most common, this version is also popular in Switzerland and in the Alps.
Chocolate fondue, also called Fondue au chocolat, is melted chocolate in a fondue pot. Pieces of fruit or pastry are dipped into the melted chocolate. The chocolate fondue can be made of dark, milk or white chocolate.
In order to find the best wine for your fondue, let's take a closer look at some of the most important characteristics of this dish:
Cheese fondue pairs best with a fresh white wine with high acidity and a hint of spices. Grüner Veltliner is the best wine pairing for cheese fondue. It is Austria's most famous grape variety and gives light-bodied dry white wines with a refreshingly high acidity. Grüner Veltliner is characterized by a slightly spicy flavors of white pepper and strong citrus, and vegetal aromas.
Cheese fondue contains spices like nutmeg which are balanced by the white pepper aromas in the wine. The sharp acidity of Grüner Veltliner will cut through the fat of the cheese creating a lovely food and wine pairing.
Tips! If you prefer red wine, choose a light-bodied wine. Pinot Noir is especially good if you are having a cheese fondue with Gruyère cheese. The nutty, rich flavor of Gruyère will be perfectly matched with an earthy Pinot Noir.
Other good wine pairings for cheese fondue are:
Meat fondue is best paired a light- or medium-bodied red wine with high acidity. Fruit and/or earthy aromas are also good to pair with meat fondue. Pinot Noir is an excellent pairing for this dish.
Meat fondue does not feel as heavy as you might think, but it usually contains a lot of fat, especially if the meat is cooked in oil. The characteristic high acidity of Pinot Noir cuts though the fat, creating a balanced pairing. The soft tannins and the typical aromas of earth and red berries will also pair well with meat fondue.
Tips! Do you want a richer red wine? Go for a medium-bodied red wine with good acidity, such as Chianti Classico.
Other good wine pairings for meat fondue are:
Are you having chocolate fondue for dessert or at a party? Make sure to pair it with a suitable wine! Chocolate is sweet and needs to be paired with a sweet wine. In order to find the best wine for your chocolate fondue, you need to take into consideration the type of chocolate (white, milk or dark). Port wine and chocolate is a great pairing.
When pairing desserts and wine, there are a few general rules to consider:
Tips! Read more about these rules in our guide Wine and Dessert Pairing Rules.
It is possible to pair dry wines with chocolate fondue, but remember that a glass of dry red wine can taste bitter with chocolate (especially with dark chocolate). This is because of the tannins found in both wine and chocolate. If you still want a dry red wine, make sure to pick one with rich berry fruit flavors. Zinfandel is usually a good choice.
If you want sparkling wine, go for a fruity prosecco with a hint of sweetness. This style is especially good together with chocolate fondue served with strawberries or other berries and fruits.
Enjoy your fondue and your wine!