This narrow strip of vineyards is sandwiched between the Vosges mountains (France) and the Rhine river (Germany). It is a sunny and dry region that exploits steep slopes to fully ripen grapes to high sugar levels. The area is known for making aromatic, richly-textured white wines.
The main grapes are Riesling, Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Gris and Muscat. The style can be compared to some German wines, though Alsatian wines tend to be drier, fuller bodied and higher in alcohol. Some red wine is also made from Pinot Noir, although they are light and closer to a rose than a red wine in style. Cremant d’Alsace is a traditional method sparkling wine made from local grape and their answer to Champagne.
The quality classification system for Alsace much more simple than in other French regions, there are just two appellations: Alsace AC and Alsace Grand Cru AC, whose wines can come from any of the Grand Cru designated vineyards and have stricter production criteria.
Two other useful terms to know regarding Alsatian wines are Vendage Tardive (VT) – meaning late harvest, and Selection de Grains Nobles (SGN) – a selection of grapes with noble rot.