To me, gougères are the perfect bite. Basically, a French cheese puff packed with flavor from fresh herbs and, well, cheese! Have you ever tasted gougères?
Let’s be honest, the French know a thing or two about pastries and cheese. Gougères are no exception. Besides being wholly delicious, gougères are surprisingly simple to make at home. They are the perfect pre-dinner bite alongside a glass of wine and could even be served at brunch alongside some bubbles. I promise you, they will be a crowd pleaser!
Gougères are very diverse, as you can change the flavor based on the types of herbs and cheese you add to the dough. This makes them a perfect option for creating exciting wine pairings.
Crémant d’Aslace & Gougères
The French also know a thing or two about wine. Lately, I have been dabbling in the world of Crémant, the other French sparkling wine made in the traditional method outside of Champagne. There are eight Crémant appellations in France (and one in Luxembourg). Each boasts a different style of Crémant based on the varieties and winemaking regulations of the region. Check out this blog post to learn all about Crémant, Champagne’s more affordable French sister.
Crémant d’Alsace is the most internationally available, considering that half of all French Crémant production comes from Alsace. I purchased this bottle of NV Anne de K Crémant d’Alsace Blanc de Blancs from Total Wine for just $20.
- Pale, yellow color with medium-intensity on the nose
- Aromatics of pear, baked green apples, lemon peel, honey blossoms, and brioche
- Dry and medium-bodied on the palate with medium acidity
- Flavors match the aromatics with tart green fruits and brioche, a mousse-like texture, and medium length finish
- Impressive concentration of flavors and intensity of aromatics
- Good wine and great value for the price
Gougères work especially well with bubbly. Sparkling wine produced in the traditional method takes on autolytic qualities from the extensive contact with the lees during the secondary fermentation in bottle. Those spent yeast cells impart notes of toasted bread, brioche, almonds, hazelnuts, vanilla, etc. on the finished wine. They also contribute different textures to the wine and even more weight on the palate. Some qualities, like a creamy, mousse texture, come from lees contact.
That being said, gougères have a toasty flavor because of how they are prepared and from the inclusion of whole wheat flour, at least in this recipe. The saltiness from the cheese will help enhance the fruit notes and aromas in the wine, while the flavors of the herbs will be refreshed from the sparkling wine’s acidity and bubbles.
For this particular bottle of Crémant d’Alsace, the flavors of the gougères and the wine complemented each other perfectly. They were even more harmonious when I added a bit of butter and honey to the tasty cheese puff.
- The salty, savory flavor of the Gruyère cheese brings out the lemon citrus notes of the wine
- The creaminess of the butter matched the creamy palate, and mousse-like texture of the Crémant
- The acidity of the wine enhanced the flavors of dill, thyme, and oregano in the pastry
- The sweetness of the honey contrasted and thus enhanced the acidity and tart characteristics of the wine
I used Heidi Swanson’s gougères recipe from her beautiful cookbook, Near & Far.
Heidi also has the recipe on her 101 Cookbooks blog, though with a different cheese, different herbs, and the option to substitute beer for water.
Bon appétit and happy pairing!