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I need Sauterne wine for fondue, but can't find it anywhere.

librarianjen Dec 29, 2010 07:01 AM

Are there any acceptable substitutes? None of the liquor stores around me have it, and many I call are confusing it with the sweet dessert wine, sauterneS.

Any recommendations? Thank you!

  1. SWISSAIRE Dec 18, 2013 10:24 AM

    Sunshine842 has a good understanding of Swiss Fondue basics. In Switzerland, the traditional dish makes frugal use of leftovers, and many take it seriously enough to enjoy each month, including Summer.

    1. Fendant is our local wine. It is not seen as a great wine by anyone in Switzerland.
    2. Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio/Gris is commonly used. No Sauterne, Chateau la Salle, or Ripple, please.
    3. Yes, a shot of Kirsch is added, but not a sweet one.
    4. The actual clay pan used for Fondue is called a Caquelon, and although many of us employ modern stainless steel, it is considered a high mark to have your original one. I still have my Grandfather's, which remains functional.
    5. The burner below the Caquelon is called a Rechaud. Take your time and keep the heat low, not too high. We use a Stöckli alcohol-fuelled Reachaud.
    6. A rub of a clove of garlic precedes the Fondue ingredients inside the Caquelon.
    7. Cheese: Our local Emmi product has a good mix in a foil bag. In North America, the Trader Joes' Fondue product is excellent. I hope no one is crushed when I say that Velveeta, and Cheese Whiz is clearly out.
    8. Etiquette: A number of rules here, but the most important is never eat directly from the fondue fork. That is considered major bad form, and is also unhygienic. Hold the hot fork over your plate to cool down, and then use your dinner fork to take the bread and cheese off the fondue fork, and onto your dinner plate.

    9. Wine: The same as above. We commonly have hot tea, or our local Rivella.

    I hope this is helpful.

    1. c
      collioure Dec 8, 2013 06:07 AM

      There are so many subsitutes - Sainte-Croix-du-Mont, Monbazillac, Barsac, Late harvest Gewurz or Riesling, or even Jurançcon moelleux.

      7 Replies
      1. re: collioure
        homards100 Dec 8, 2013 06:17 AM

        Jurancon very good too you don t have to say moelleux a Jurancon original is moelleux for a dry one will be dry on the bottle

        1. re: homards100
          collioure Dec 8, 2013 06:20 AM

          I always distinguish the two and so do the producers, I believe.

          Opening a Cauhapé moelleux with the foie this Xmas.

        2. re: collioure
          Robert Lauriston Dec 8, 2013 11:21 AM

          As discussed previously, "Sauterne" with no final "s" is cheap generic off-dry white wine produced in California. It's often called for in American fondue recipes from 40+ years ago. To my surprise there's actually at least one still on the market:


          1. re: Robert Lauriston
            zin1953 Dec 8, 2013 12:17 PM

            I, too, am surprised -- the last one I recall seeing from from The Christian Bros. -- but it IS the perfect descriptor of a Sauterne (sic): "This semi-dry white wine from California is . . ."

            That's precisely what a California Sauterne is. Non-descript and off-dry.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston
              Bill Hunt Dec 17, 2013 08:58 PM


              I am gobsmacked. There is still a US Sauterne, being sold?

              What's next, a "Hearty Burgundy?"

              I wonder where you found such?


              1. re: Bill Hunt
                Robert Lauriston Dec 18, 2013 09:32 AM



            2. re: collioure
              homards100 Dec 8, 2013 03:33 PM

              Pour bénéficier de l'Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée " Jurançon ", les vins doivent provenir de moûts récoltés à surmaturation et présenter un titre alcoométrique naturel minimum de 12 p.100.

              Ne peut être considéré comme étant à bonne maturité tout lot unitaire de vendange présentant une richesse inférieure à 212 grammes de sucre.

              Les vins doivent présenter une teneur en sucres résiduels au moins égale à 35 grammes par litre.

              Rendements de base
              - pour l'Appellation "Jurançon sec" : 60 hectolitres par ha de vigne en production
              - pour l'Appellation "Jurançon" : 40 hectolitres par ha de vigne de production

            3. n
              Nancancook2 Dec 8, 2013 04:38 AM

              Enjoyed reading all these posts again! Last year we used a Sauvignon Blanc and it turned out great. The recipe we've followed for years is:

              1 teaspoon cornstarch
              1 clove garlic halved
              ¼ cup kirsch or dry sherry
              1 clove garlic halved
              2 cups sauterne (or dry Sauvignon Blanc)
              ½ pound gruyere cheese shredded
              1 ½ pound swiss cheese
              ¼ teas. nutmeg (ground)
              Dash Pepper

              Shred cheese and bring to room temperature for easier melting. Stir cornstarch into kirsch until well blended - set aside.

              Rub inside of pan with garlic. Pour in sauterne and warm until air bubbles rise to the surface. Do not boil. Stirring vigorously, add handfuls of cheese until melted. Add seasoning and kirsch mixture. Transfer to fondue pot and keep warm.

              It is our annual tradition on New Year's Eve. I'm looking forward to it now!! Happy holidays and new year to all!

              1. m
                Mommaduck78 Dec 7, 2013 08:45 PM

                I just made a version using a dry Sauvignon blanc. It may have been a bit too dry for me, but my family loved it.

                6 Replies
                1. re: Mommaduck78
                  homards100 Dec 7, 2013 08:57 PM

                  Hello... Try a gewurstraminer vendange tardive , conumdrum too not to cold... Greating season good weekend

                  1. re: homards100
                    zin1953 Dec 8, 2013 12:15 PM

                    You would *truly* use an Alsatian late harvest Gewürztraminer IN the fondue??? Must have more money that I do . . .not that that is too difficult, but still --

                    1. re: zin1953
                      collioure Dec 8, 2013 01:13 PM

                      Jason, in a pinch one uses whatever.

                      1. re: zin1953
                        sunshine842 Dec 8, 2013 01:19 PM

                        yep...kinda like using Sauternes...kinda big bucks just to flavor the cheese!

                        (If I had a bottle open that had a couple of swallows left, I *might* put it in the fondue....but I'd probably just drink it!)

                        1. re: sunshine842
                          Nancancook2 Dec 8, 2013 02:03 PM

                          I found the more expensive sauternes to be a bit sweet for the fondue.

                          1. re: Nancancook2
                            zin1953 Dec 8, 2013 02:24 PM

                            There is NO RELATION between Sauternes, the AOC wine produced from Semilion, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle, and Sauterne (sic), the American semi-generic wine.

                  2. pikawicca Dec 30, 2012 01:30 PM

                    My mother always used (as do I) Alsatian Riesling in fondue. It works beautifully. She put a touch of kirschwasser in hers, but many people don't like the flavor, so I leave it out. Equal mix of Emmenthaler and Gruyere.

                    1. Ruthie789 Dec 30, 2012 01:16 PM

                      I have used Kirsh in my fondue. I believe the recipe from Joy of Cooking calls for this and it was good.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Ruthie789
                        sunshine842 Dec 30, 2012 01:22 PM

                        you need a shot of Kirsch, too -- as well as the wine.

                      2. t
                        TombstoneShadow Dec 30, 2012 01:04 PM

                        Instead of thinking that you need a "Sauterne" with your fondue and getting lost in winespeak, why not start with the cheese you're using and then bring the wine to the cheese??

                        If you're using emmental then there's no better match to my palate than riesling (kabinett or spatlese)... if gruyere then make it gewurztraminer...

                        You won't find better matches, these are ethereal... Also you mention that your local wineshop is not particularly well-stocked... fortunately they should have several good bottles of riesling available and working backwards that might argue in favor of using emmental as your cheese base, as for a good-quality gewurztraminer they may or may not have it. Enjoy!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: TombstoneShadow
                          sunshine842 Dec 30, 2012 01:11 PM

                          and very, very traditional in fondue in their respective regions.

                        2. Robert Lauriston Dec 30, 2012 09:52 AM

                          Per the 1975 edition of Amerine & Singleton's "Wine: an introduction for Americans," California sauterne, like chablis, rhine, and white chianti, had no varietal character and was was made with "ordinary varieties of grapes," possibly including V. labrusca varieties. There's still box wine labeled chablis, but I think the others fell out of use years ago.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Robert Lauriston
                            zin1953 Dec 30, 2012 10:50 AM

                            Sauterne (sic) is simply one of the many permitted semi-generic wine names permitted by the then-ATF/now-TTB. Certainly "burgundy, "claret," and "chianti" were the most common names for reds, while "chablis," rhine," and "sauterne" (no "s" on the end) were once upon a time the most popular for whites.

                            More authoritative than Amerine & Singleton is the source -- Title 27 CFR, Part 4 ("Labeling and Advertising of Wine").

                            27 CFR 4, Subpart C ("Standards of Identity for Wine")

                            § 4.24 - Generic, semi-generic, and non-generic designations of geographic significance.

                            (b) (1) A name of geographic significance, which is also the designation of a class or type of wine, shall be deemed to have become semi-generic only if so found by the Administrator. Semi-generic designations may be used to designate wines of an origin other than that indicated by such name only if there appears in direct conjunction therewith an appropriate appellation of origin disclosing the true place of origin of the wine, and if the wine so designated conforms to the standard of identity, if any, for such wine contained in the regulations in this part or, if there be no such standard, to the trade understanding of such class or type. See § 24.257(c) of this chapter for exceptions to the Administrator's authority to remove names from paragraph (b)(2) of this section.

                            (b) (2) Examples of semi-generic names which are also type designations for grape wines are Angelica, Burgundy, Claret, Chablis, Champagne, Chianti, Malaga, Marsala, Madeira, Moselle, Port, Rhine Wine (syn. Hock), Sauterne, Haut Sauterne, Sherry, Tokay.

                          2. n
                            Nancancook2 Dec 29, 2012 08:29 AM

                            In the 1970's through the 1990's Taylor made a good inexpensive Sauterne which we used for cheese fondue each year. Unfortunately Taylor stopped making it (I contacted the company directly after searching for the wine for some time). We also made the mistake of using a expensive sauterne one year and it too sweet and ruined the fondue. So I agree with the the posts recommending a dry white wine as a substitute. As a side note, we use dry sherry instead of Kirsch. We loved Justin Wilson's PBS show!

                            1. m
                              MaryDyer Jan 13, 2012 11:29 PM

                              I used to find Taylor (New York) Sauterne in Kansas City, but can't find it anywhere lately. The Cajun cook, Justin Wilson, used the heck out of the stuff on his PBS show years ago. I use the wine in my "greens" on New Years Day, along with the black eye peas, pork, etc. Maybe it can be found in Louisiana?

                              1. w
                                wally Jan 13, 2011 02:18 PM

                                I just saw some Sauterne with salt in it by Reese at Andronicos on Shattuck in Berkeley. It was near vinegar.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: wally
                                  sunshine842 Jan 13, 2011 09:55 PM

                                  "near vinegar" - -does that refer to proximity, or flavor? :D

                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                    wally Jan 14, 2011 06:15 AM

                                    That was what I was looking at. I can't think of a circumstance where I would be aware of the flavor.

                                2. Midlife Jan 6, 2011 11:25 PM

                                  Not sure why "Sauterne wine" is REQUIRED, but I found this site Googling. It says that the two best varietals in the "Sauterne wine family" are Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc, while "lesser varieties include Sauvignon vert, Palomino, or Golden Chasselas, and many others, including Thompson Seedless".


                                  Honestly, I had no idea. Sounds like this is an outdated term. Hope this helps, though it sounded like it was probably a New Years need.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Midlife
                                    Bill Hunt Jan 10, 2011 07:45 PM

                                    Yeah, grab a jug of "Thompson Seedless," and cook away... [Grin]

                                    Interesting varietals there. I cannot believe that French Columbard was mentioned no where. Guess I am wrong.



                                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                                      SteveG Jan 13, 2011 01:54 PM

                                      Biggest surprise: whatever golden chasselas is was in (some of) the Sauterne recommended for fondue back in the day. I'm always amazed how there are threads of legitimate cooking that survived through America's worst culinary eras.

                                  2. Delucacheesemonger Jan 6, 2011 04:58 AM

                                    Classic wine used for cheese fondue, as Jason says is chasselas. Schoffit, Barmes-Buechler, and Boxler have a chasselas fronm Alsace and pretty wide distribution in this country. l like them better than the Swiss fendant or Neuchatel and they are a lot less expensive. l both cook with it and use as accompaniment to the fondue.
                                    Woodland Hills has a chasselas from the Savoie on sale now for $ 11, thus easily doable.

                                    1. njfoodies Jan 2, 2011 01:51 PM

                                      I don't think I've ever had a sauterne (without the s). -mJ

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: njfoodies
                                        Bill Hunt Jan 2, 2011 06:13 PM

                                        You'd probably need to be as old, as I am, and then it would be so very easy to forget...

                                        Though only a few posts have likely helped the poor OP, the discussion has been great fun.


                                      2. g
                                        GotDOCG Jan 2, 2011 01:29 PM

                                        FYI... when I added Stony Hill Riesling, I assumed that it is to drink with the fondue...

                                        1. g
                                          GotDOCG Jan 2, 2011 01:27 PM

                                          Move! There are any number of late harvest wines that will fit the bill.... problem here though is that the "dolcetti" that you would want to drink (never cook with a wine that your would not drink!) tend to be a bit pricey... but will make a tp-die-for fondue... another alternative would be a sensational dry riesling...Stony Hill creates one that converted me!!! They don't even know how to spell oak!

                                          1. b
                                            bclevy Dec 30, 2010 04:51 PM

                                            The traditional wines for cheese fondue are Roussette de Savoie on the
                                            French side and Fendant on the Swiss side. They are extremely difficult
                                            to find outside the Alps.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: bclevy
                                              therealdoctorlew Dec 31, 2010 10:15 PM

                                              You might find a gruner veltliner.

                                            2. sunshine842 Dec 30, 2010 06:25 AM

                                              any crisp white will do...traditionally it would be an Alsacian white...a riesling, gewurtztraminer, sylvaner...

                                              Don't overthink this one -- remember that this was originated by shepherds in the mountains, so a glug of whatever was in their flask was what went into it.

                                              1. s
                                                sedimental Dec 29, 2010 07:32 PM

                                                Yes, use google:

                                                Four Monks Sauterne cooking wine ($1.99) at most grocery stores.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: sedimental
                                                  Bill Hunt Jan 2, 2011 06:11 PM

                                                  Wonder which grapes those four monks used? I rather doubt that they were willing to share.

                                                  Gotta' see if my Safeway, or Fry's even has anything today, with the Sauterne designator on it. Somehow, I doubt it, but could be proven wrong.

                                                  Still, my bet is on French Columbard.


                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                    Ed Dibble Jan 5, 2011 07:45 AM

                                                    I agree

                                                2. s
                                                  sedimental Dec 29, 2010 07:24 PM

                                                  librarianjen is talking about the COOKING wine!!!! Not a French Sauternes (with an "s") dessert wine! I don't think you folks are understanding what is being asked. Sauterne was found in the grocery store next to the other salted cooking wines, sherry, marsala, etc. It was widely used in fondues in years gone by. It is yellow colored and tastes like crap. You don't drink it! LOL

                                                  14 Replies
                                                  1. re: sedimental
                                                    librarianjen Dec 31, 2010 11:01 AM

                                                    LOL Thank you! tee hee

                                                    I looked in a large, upscale grocery store and they didn't have it - so bummed. That too is where my mother said to look first.

                                                    1. re: librarianjen
                                                      invinotheresverde Dec 31, 2010 11:09 AM

                                                      Any dry white will taste better than cooking "wine".

                                                      1. re: invinotheresverde
                                                        sedimental Dec 31, 2010 11:44 AM

                                                        Maybe, but it sounds like librarianjen was trying to follow a specific (maybe family, old school?) recipe.

                                                        1. re: sedimental
                                                          invinotheresverde Dec 31, 2010 08:14 PM

                                                          That doesn't make it good. ;)

                                                      2. re: librarianjen
                                                        sedimental Dec 31, 2010 11:50 AM

                                                        Well, if you cant find it, other choices would be a rather insipid tasting (drinking) wine with a sprinkle of salt. If I remember right, the Sauterne (no "s"!) was really quite weak tasting.

                                                      3. re: sedimental
                                                        Bill Hunt Jan 2, 2011 06:09 PM

                                                        I think that some "get it," but others might not.

                                                        The wine called for in the recipe was basically a generic, jug white, and NOT a dessert wine. It was a marketing product of the day, and nothing fancy. Even Jason could not come up with the "mix," so that leaves me back to French Columbard, but that is but a guess.


                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                          zin1953 Jan 4, 2011 06:28 AM

                                                          There is no "mix." See my post above.

                                                          1. re: zin1953
                                                            Bill Hunt Jan 4, 2011 06:25 PM

                                                            The term mix, in quotes, was euphemistic to describe a wine from unknown varietal(s). There might not have been a cuvee, just a labeling convention, per your furnished material.



                                                        2. re: sedimental
                                                          Ed Dibble Jan 5, 2011 07:44 AM

                                                          No, not salted. There may have been a cooking wine version, but sauterne back in the days was a bland neutral white wine without salt.

                                                          1. re: Ed Dibble
                                                            sedimental Jan 5, 2011 09:56 AM

                                                            I was referring to the sauterne cooking wine and how the OP might replicate the taste.

                                                            1. re: sedimental
                                                              zin1953 Jan 5, 2011 04:11 PM

                                                              FWIW, I would NEVER use anything labeled "Cooking Wine." Not only is it bad wine to start with, but then it's salted and throws off the balance of your dish . . . .

                                                              1. re: zin1953
                                                                sedimental Jan 5, 2011 07:54 PM

                                                                I wouldn't (now) either, but its the OP's question.

                                                                Some of the old school recipes (50's & 60's) were really good and they used cooking wine. The balance was different then. I think that the cheese used was probably different as well. I am trying to remember what kind of cheese was available in the grocery stores in the 1960's. I think it was "run of the mill swiss". Probably tasted like crap by itself. Sometimes recipes have to be taken in their totality.

                                                                You know, I really don't like fondues that are heavy on the "white wine" now. It overpowers everything. I might just have to hunt for an old school recipes and see what i can do with my avocado green fondue pot!

                                                                1. re: sedimental
                                                                  Ed Dibble Jan 6, 2011 07:55 AM

                                                                  I actually remember the 50s and 60s, and good cooks did not use cooking wine. Cooking wine goes back to the 20s and 30s when real unsalted wine was not available in markets. Perhaps later it was also the choice in Baptist families so that it was clear that no one in the home was actually drinking wine.

                                                                  Anyway, back in the fifties and early sixties, most grocery stores had limited stocks of wine, most of which (at least in the western part of the US) were semi-generics out of CA. So the home cook would have to choose among chablis, sherry, port, sauterne, rhine wine, burgundy, claret--none of which corresponded to real European wines. A recipe calling for sauterne would be calling for a neutral, not overly dry, and inexpensive wine. A cheap pinot grigio would be perfect.

                                                                  1. re: Ed Dibble
                                                                    wally Jan 6, 2011 05:08 PM

                                                                    In the fifties and sixties, there were warnings against using so called cooking wines. I remember them too.

                                                        3. h
                                                          homards100 Dec 29, 2010 05:52 PM

                                                          Ice wine will be nice... chile late harvest sauvignon... ice cider too... happy new year

                                                          1. s
                                                            sedimental Dec 29, 2010 11:01 AM

                                                            Isn't that found in the grocery store? I think I have it in my more "upscale" grocery store next to the sherry, marsala, etc. I might be wrong, but I would check there first.

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: sedimental
                                                              ChefJune Dec 29, 2010 11:09 AM

                                                              no Chateau d'Yquem in a grocery store, I would think. Even the lesser years cost upwards of $300 for a half-bottle.

                                                              Besides, it would add NOTHING positive to fondue.

                                                              1. re: ChefJune
                                                                njfoodies Dec 29, 2010 11:13 AM

                                                                I enjoy my d'Yquem with lobster. Will be having it on New Years Eve...definitely wouldn't waste it in fondue! -mJ

                                                                1. re: ChefJune
                                                                  Bill Hunt Dec 29, 2010 05:47 PM

                                                                  I think that Sedimental's tongue might have been in his/her cheek.

                                                                  When you add that "S," it should actually be a "$." [Grin]

                                                                  Now, I could be wrong, so will just have to wait and see.


                                                              2. njfoodies Dec 29, 2010 10:50 AM

                                                                Pick up some Chateau d'Yquem and call it a day! ;-) -mJ

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: njfoodies
                                                                  librarianjen Dec 29, 2010 12:20 PM

                                                                  That, though, is a Sauternes wine - a sweet wine. I'm looking for a sauterne (without the s at the end) - a dry wine for classic cheese fondue.

                                                                  1. re: librarianjen
                                                                    Bill Hunt Dec 29, 2010 05:45 PM

                                                                    Not sure that anyone is still doing that. I would also guess that "Sauterne" (no S) was something like French Colimbard, or maybe even Thompson Seedless?

                                                                    An SB, or SB/Semillon would be just fine. If the recipe calls for "Sauterne," it will likely be 10x better, than what was once intended.

                                                                    Maybe someone can list, just for curiosity's sake, some of the "Sauterne" wines, and what they were made from. I remember them, but as a historical footnote, along with the aforementioned "bastardizations" of French appelations, which appeared in the naming and marketing of a lot of US jug-wine. Remember, that info is just out of curiosity. I do not want to buy a case (probably 4 - 1gal. jugs, replete with the little finger ring on the neck... ).

                                                                    Most of all, enjoy your dish,


                                                                2. ChefJune Dec 29, 2010 08:32 AM

                                                                  There is really no such thing as "Sauterne." It stems from "back in the day" when folks called their wines from wherever "Burgundy" and "Chablis" etc., but they weren't anything close to that.

                                                                  I cannot imagine using real Sauternes in fondue, either. I think you'd do well with an inexpensive white Bordeaux (Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend) for your fondue. Those should be available in just about any wine store, or even supermarket.

                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                  1. re: ChefJune
                                                                    librarianjen Dec 29, 2010 08:37 AM

                                                                    Thank you! I will go with a white Bordeaux, and definitely will add kirsch, as per Dan.

                                                                    Thanks so much!

                                                                    1. re: librarianjen
                                                                      zin1953 Dec 29, 2010 06:29 PM

                                                                      I wouldn't waste a good white Bordeaux on a fondue . . . .

                                                                      1. re: zin1953
                                                                        Bill Hunt Dec 29, 2010 07:10 PM

                                                                        When I saw that you had posted to this thread, I was hoping that you could refresh my feeble memory about the "Sauterne" wines, of decades past - who sold under that altered name, and what might have been the grapes used. You are such a wealth of vinos history, and I need a bit of that right now.



                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                          ChefJune Dec 30, 2010 11:37 AM

                                                                          Hunt: I remember something called "Donaldo Sauterne" from Portugal, that came in a large green glass bottle that sooked a bit like the Almaden bottles. I have no idea what grapes were used in that.

                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                            zin1953 Jan 1, 2011 12:46 PM

                                                                            re: "Sauterne" (without the final "s") . . .

                                                                            Under the old ATF regulations, there was a category of wine called "Semi-Generic." True semi-generic wines were American wines that bore European place names of origin, such as "Burgundy", "Claret", and "Chianti"; "Chablis", "Rhine" and "Sauterne." (Most Americans simply call these "generic wines," but this is technically incorrect. Generic wines are literally "Red Wine" and "White Wine.") Other names for semi-generics include "Moselle," "Haut-Sauterne" (again, missing the final "s"), "Malaga," "Madeira", "Marsala", "Port", "Sherry", "Angelica", and "Champagne".

                                                                            Although "Champagne," as a semi-generic American wine, had to be sparkling, and "Malaga," "Madeira", "Marsala", "Port", "Sherry", "Angelica" all had to be fortified to some degree, the others merely had to be wine . . . NO restrictions or limitations were imposed as to the grape type(s) used in making the wine, the level of sweetness/dryness of the wine, even the color was never specified in the regulations.

                                                                            The IMPLICATION was, of course, that the a semi-generic "Burgundy" or "Chablis" would be akin to -- or at least somewhat reminiscent of -- a French Burgundy or Chablis, but this was rarely if ever the case, and certainly never mandated by regulations.

                                                                            Certainly with a semi-generic "Sauterne," there was no regulation that the wine be sweet, that the wine have any Botrytis whatsoever, etc., etc., etc. Generally speaking, however, if a winery produced BOTH a "Sauterne" and a "Haut-Sauterne," the latter often contained more sweetness -- but nothing made this so. So, too, for the difference between, say, a "Chablis" versus a "Rhine" wine.

                                                                            That said, when I worked in the Napa Valley, the winery bottled "Burgundy", "Claret" and "Chianti" >>>all out of the same tank! <<<


                                                                            1. re: zin1953
                                                                              Bill Hunt Jan 2, 2011 06:06 PM


                                                                              That was about how I remembered things too. I was hoping for a bit more detail on the "Sauterne," but like "Tokay," was probably so generic, that few alive today, even recall. Maybe we need a US Wine Freedom of Information Act?



                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                zin1953 Jan 4, 2011 06:28 AM

                                                                                There's no real additional detail to be had (see below), and a "Wine Freedom of Information Act" would have to be filed with each winery, and that would presume they still had records available. The problem is that ANYTHING could be used to make a semi-generic wine, and nothing prevented a winery from bottling "Chablis," "Rhine," and "Sauterne" all from the same tank.


                                                                                US Code Title 27: Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
                                                                                PART 4—LABELING AND ADVERTISING OF WINE
                                                                                Subpart C—Standards of Identity for Wine
                                                                                § 4.24 Generic, semi-generic, and non-generic designations of geographic significance.

                                                                                (a)(1) A name of geographic significance which is also the designation of a class or type of wine, shall be deemed to have become generic only if so found by the Administrator.

                                                                                (a)(2) Examples of generic names, originally having geographic significance, which are designations for a class or type of wine are: Vermouth, Sake.

                                                                                (b)(1) A name of geographic significance, which is also the designation of a class or type of wine, shall be deemed to have become semi-generic only if so found by the Administrator. Semi-generic designations may be used to designate wines of an origin other than that indicated by such name only if there appears in direct conjunction therewith an appropriate appellation of origin disclosing the true place of origin of the wine, and if the wine so designated conforms to the standard of identity, if any, for such wine contained in the regulations in this part or, if there be no such standard, to the trade understanding of such class or type. See §24.257(c) of this chapter for exceptions to the Administrator's authority to remove names from paragraph (b)(2) of this section.

                                                                                (b)(2) Examples of semi-generic names which are also type designations for grape wines are Angelica, Burgundy, Claret, Chablis, Champagne, Chianti, Malaga, Marsala, Madeira, Moselle, Port, Rhine Wine (syn. Hock), Sauterne, Haut Sauterne, Sherry, Tokay.

                                                                                (c)(1) A name of geographic significance, which has not been found by the Administrator to be generic or semi-generic may be used only to designate wines of the origin indicated by such name, but such name shall not be deemed to be the distinctive designation of a wine unless the Administrator finds that it is known to the consumer and to the trade as the designation of a specific wine of a particular place or region, distinguishable from all other wines.

                                                                                (c)(2) Examples of nongeneric names which are not distinctive designations of specific grape wines are: American, California, Lake Erie, Napa Valley, New York State, French, Spanish. Additional examples of foreign nongeneric names are listed in subpart C of part 12 of this chapter.

                                                                                (c)(3) Examples of nongeneric names which are also distinctive designations of specific grape wines are: Bordeaux Blanc, Bordeaux Rouge, Graves, Medoc, Saint-Julien, Chateau Yquem, Chateau Margaux, Chateau Lafite, Pommard, Chambertin, Montrachet, Rhone, Liebfraumilch, Rudesheimer, Forster, Deidesheimer, Schloss Johannisberger, Lagrima, and Lacryma Christi. A list of foreign distinctive designations, as determined by the Administrator, appears in subpart D of part 12 of this chapter.

                                                                                [T.D. 6521, 25 FR 13835, Dec. 29, 1960, as amended by T.D. ATF–296, 55 FR 17967, Apr. 30, 1990; T.D. ATF–398, 63 FR 44783, Aug. 21, 1998; T.D. ATF–425, 65 FR 11890, 11891, Mar. 7, 2000]


                                                                                Now if THAT doesn't give you a headache . . . .

                                                                                Again, there is nothing in the regs that make a semi-generic "Claret" (for example) contain any traditional Bordeaux grape whatsoever; nothing to have a "Burgundy" contain any Pinot Noir or Chardonnay; nothing for a "Chianti" to contain any Sangiovese, or a "Rhine" to have any Riesling. And certainly there was nothing in the regs that made a "Sauterne" contain any Sauvignon Blanc, any Semillon, or any Botrytis . . . the names are essentially meaningless, and always have been.

                                                                                This isn't to say that, for example, Almaden's Mountian Rhine Wine wasn't sweeter than Almaden's Mountain White Chablis, but nothing in the regulations ***forced*** it to be that way, and legally, they could have been from the very same tank -- only the labels in the labeling machine were changed to protect the innocent.

                                                                                And, as I mentioned previously, the Napa Valley winery I worked at made four semi- and generic wines: the "Burgundy," "Claret," and "Chianti" all came out of the very same tank -- we just changed the labels in the machine. Only the "Red Table Wine" was different.


                                                                                1. re: zin1953
                                                                                  Bill Hunt Jan 4, 2011 06:23 PM


                                                                                  Just thought that you'd have it on the top of your head - but you are "excused" for not knowing. Recall the "term," but cannot ever remember tasting one of them.



                                                                                  1. re: zin1953
                                                                                    collioure Dec 8, 2013 06:01 AM

                                                                                    Now I know why I shouldn't trust anything you say!

                                                                            2. re: zin1953
                                                                              ChefJune Dec 30, 2010 11:36 AM

                                                                              There are quite a number of "good" white Bordeaux for around $10-12.

                                                                              1. re: ChefJune
                                                                                zin1953 Jan 1, 2011 12:28 PM

                                                                                That's true, but a "classic" cheese fondue calls for Fendant de Valais or Neuchâtel -- both exclusively or predominantly produced from Chasselas grapes -- very neutral in flavor and character . . . something that even a "good" Bordeaux blanc sec is not.

                                                                                Just my own 2¢ . . . .


                                                                                1. re: zin1953
                                                                                  sunshine842 Jan 1, 2011 01:53 PM

                                                                                  for heaven's sake...just dump a little of something white and semi-drinkable into the pot...it won't matter once it's behind the flavor of the cheese, anyway!

                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                    zin1953 Jan 2, 2011 10:20 AM

                                                                                    Isn't that what I said?

                                                                                    1. re: zin1953
                                                                                      sunshine842 Jan 2, 2011 11:37 AM

                                                                                      if you did, it wasn't very clear

                                                                        2. EvergreenDan Dec 29, 2010 07:47 AM

                                                                          Try in the wine forum: http://chowhound.chow.com/boards/34

                                                                          Over here, we're liable to suggest you use any dry crisp white wine so long as you include kirshwasser. ;-)

                                                                          www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft + Collect + Concoct + Categorize + Community

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: EvergreenDan
                                                                            veenaprasad Jan 14, 2011 09:33 PM

                                                                            Agreed on using any dry crisp white wine. But please be careful what kirschwasser you add! They're not all made the same and whatever we've found so far in the US (cherry liquor that tastes like cough syrup) has been utter crap and ruins the fondue. Better actually to leave it out unless you're sure it is the real thing.

                                                                            1. re: veenaprasad
                                                                              Delucacheesemonger Jan 15, 2011 04:36 AM

                                                                              Have been using cherry juice instead of kirsch to dissolve cornstarch for years, works and tastes great with never the cough syrup flavor you mention. The Russian ones with the schmutz in bottom of jar are better as not sweet but great intense cherry flavor.

                                                                              1. re: Delucacheesemonger
                                                                                sunshine842 Jan 15, 2011 12:20 PM

                                                                                just to clarify for those who aren't sure what it is...

                                                                                the "real thing" should be crystal-clear, with a watery rather than syrupy consistency, and will go down like jet fuel with a sublime cherry aftertaste. It's an eau de vie, not a liqueur.

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