HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Fondue Problem

I was craving fondue so I went out today and bought a fondue pot and the ingredients to make cheese fondue. It came out bloody awful - I had to throw it away. It was very loose and so bitter, and it tasted mainly of wine. What did I do wrong? I used emmanthaler and gruyere with flour sprinkled on, white wine, lemon juice, kirsch. The ratio of wine to cheese was 2 cups wine to 1 pound cheese. Is that too much wine? The recipe said not to let the wine come to a boil, I'm thinking maybe I should have let it boil to get rid of the alcohol. Any tips?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I've never boiled the wine, but it should have little bubbles on the edge--does that make sense?--between simmering and boiling. And I'm always surprised at how long it takes for fondue to come together. It's, like, almost longer than I have patience. Lots of stirring. Lots and lots. I've also never used lemon juice (maybe the source of your bitterness?)--and often mix some cornstarch in with the kirsch as thickener, added at the end.

    Don't give up on fondue! Keep messing with it until you get it the way you like it!

    1. yes, i think it might have been a bit too much wine. i wouldn't boil it, as that may cause the fondue to separate. what kind of wine did you use? if it was too sweet, that may also be part of the problem.

      i've had great luck with the recipe from epicurious:

      i hope it goes better next time!

      1. A trick I learned from a swiss friend is to leave the cheese on sheets to dry out a bit after you've grated it-- this reduces the water content and helps make it thicker, I guess. That sounds like rather a lot of wine, too--I'd say more like half that (but it takes some adjustment, depending on the cheese). Some cheeses also have a little bitterness to them--did you like the taste of the cheeses before they went into the fondue?

        1. Sorry to hear your fondue was a disappointment after you bought your new pot and those tasty Emmenthaler and Gruyere cheeses.

          Sounds like way too much wine. Tyler Florence's cheese fondue uses 1 cup wine per
          pound of cheese. Try that. Here's his recipe:

          1. No clue on the bitter -- did you taste the wine and cheeses before they went into the fondue to see if one of them was the culprit?

            I agree with other folks on the too much wine -- I think I use about 1 1/2 cups of wine per pound of cheese. I think adding the flour (or cornstarch) to the cheese is the way to go. It's important to stir the cheese in slowly -- one big handful at a time until each is melted in. I add the kirsch (no lemon juice) at the end, which seems to help with separation issues.

            That's the technique I was told by folks I lived with in southern Germany (fondue territory). Oh, their other important piece of advice was to drink red wine with fondue instead of just the leftover white (which is what I'd always done up to that point). Not only does red wine go great with all the cheese (duh), having that extra bottle of wine open does make the evening more convivial :)

            Good luck with your next round!

            1. Way too much wine for my taste! My ratio is closer to 1/2 cup wine to a pound of cheese. I use cornstarch instead of flour, makes for a smoother result, and I don't usually bother with the kirsch ('cause I never have any on hand, and I often make fondue to use up leftover cheeses). You can boil the wine first if you don'td like the alcohol, then reduce the heat & stir in the cheese.

              1. This doesn't help your problem - lots of good posts - but I like to put the tiniest sprinkles of cayenne and nutmeg in mine, as well as rub a cut garlic clove on the fondue pot. BTW - did you cook the fondue on the stove first, or in the fondue pot?

                1. I agree that 2 c wine to 1 lb cheese is way too much wine. No wonder it was loose and tasted like wine!

                  I make cheese fondue with beer (a light ale or lager, stouts don't work), half cheddar and half swiss. I think it works out to 3 c. total shredded cheese that I toss with 1/4 c flour. Take a bottle of beer and pour a swig out (I make this at home for my bf and me, so I just drink a glug out of the bottle) and pour the rest into a pot. Bring to a simmer and add a handful of cheese. When that's melted, add another handful, and so on until the fondue is smooth and thick enough to coat the back of your spoon/spatula. You want it thick enough to cling to your bread/apples/veggie but not so thick that you get a huge layer of cheese on your food. Add salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of grated nutmeg.

                  Rub your fondue dish with a clove of garlic, pour in the cheese, and go to town! I prefer this to fondues made with wine because the fondue ends up to winey for my tastes.

                  Of course, don't forget the virtues of broth or oil fondue courses and the dessert ones!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: leanneabe

                    Like everyone has said, cut the wine down to a cup and a half. Also, maybe try to get a milder wine?

                    Another good fondue tip is to put all of the cheese and flour in a big ziplock bag and shake it together. That way the cheese is evenly coated and it's easier to mix into the fondue. Also, adding the kirsch w/cornstarch at the end and maybe reducing the amount you use will help.

                    1. re: heWho

                      Thanks everyone - great suggestions. I liked the wine I used, but I'm going to cut way back next time. I liked the gruyere, but I wasn't crazy about the taste of the emmanthaler, so I might go for a milder swiss. I'll try again tomorrow.

                      1. re: Linda513

                        You can try using alpenzeller instead of emmanthaler - I also like to add a little fontina.

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          I too agree that there was more wine than needed. I would also omit the lemon juice, though you didn't say how much you used, that sounds like a potential problem.

                  2. As others have said- WAAAY too much wine. Here's my recipe that I gave to customers, and it always came out great:

                    Here is my classic, and wonderful Cheese Fondue Recipe: ( Serves 4)
                     Grate 6 oz (0.4 #) Emmenthaler
                    6 oz (0.4#) Gruyere
                    3 oz (0.2#) Appenzeller
                    Toss the cheeses with 1Tb cornstarch
                     Rub Fondue crock with a garlic clove, drop into crock. Add 1/2 cup dry white wine, and bring to simmer on the stove, medium heat.
                     Remove the garlic
                     Add 1Tb lemon juice, OR 1Tb Kirsch, reduce heat to medium low. Add cheese 1 handful at a time. Stir to incorporate.
                     Add dash nutmeg, dash white pepper.

                    The cheese will seem to "seize", but keep stirring, it will relax (don't turn the heat up to much or the cheese will “break” and be an oily mess). When you can pull it up and see no solids in it, you are ready to remove it from the stove top and put it over your little flame with the Fondue Pot stand.

                    (Note that you have a pound of cheese, and half a cup of wine....)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: cheesemonger

                      Ooh, that sounds great, and judging by your name you know a lot about cheese. I'm going to try it tomorrow night.

                      And by the way, all was not lost last night. After I threw away the cheese fondue I made a great dessert fondue with semi-sweet chocolate, butterscotch chips, cream and kahlua.

                    2. rule of thumb - 1/2 cup of wine to 8 oz cheese