There’s no quicker way to distract the entire Skurnik office than with that pungent, aromatic smell of melting cheese; trust us, we confirmed it with a photoshoot at our NYC headquarters.
Raclette, for the unindoctrinated, refers to the both the cheese, and the classic Swiss dish it’s served with. This isn’t a cheese that would find its way onto a board with a baguette pre or post-dinner, but rather, in this situation, the cheese is centerstage, either playing as dinner itself or as a very elaborate side dish.
The most common ways to raclette (yes, we’re making it a verb) are with a raclette grill, which allows you to melt individual servings of cheese at the table with the option to share a glass and roast up some vegetables up top whilst you wait, or with the raclette melter, which is characterized by communal wheel of cheese that is slowly melted under direct heat and scraped into individual servings.
We’re not as fussy about the method so much as we’re obsessed with building the beverage program around the party; the cheese is wonderfully creamy with a salty, slightly sweet, and nutty flavor, a great base for a multitude of wines, spirits, and even sake.
If you need an excuse to have a raclette… you can enjoy après-ski, après-hike, or après-doing-nothing-all-day… we promise not to judge. Grab some friends, gather round, and enjoy melty cheese with a glass recommended by our staff!
FIRST THING’S FIRST
While many people might approach raclette the way they approach Thanksgiving dinner, keeping the food light all day to leave maximum room for melted, cheesy goodness, this really isn’t necessary. Raclette is meant to be eaten slowly, enjoyed with conversation, wine, and accoutrements just as much as the cheese.
It’s not necessary, but starting your meal with a light aperitivo is the perfect way to wake up your palate. Nothing fancy is required here; you don’t want to compete with the raclette anyway. Just a light snack and bright bubbles are perfect. Something acidic will contrast with heavy, creamy cheese and make your first bite of raclette even more heavenly!
“Fantastic California bubbles sing and cut through the rich fragrant taste of Raclette. This Swiss-Italian farming family moved to Monterey County and has been growing crops in the Salinas valley for generations.
The Brut Cuvée is a mixed cépage of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir aged on the lees four years. Bright and fresh with layers of depth and structure, the Caraccioli pairs perfectly with melted Swiss cheese over meat and potatoes.”
You might be thinking a raclette party is all about the cheese, and you’re not wrong, but the perfect raclette party requires perfect accoutrements. As much as we’d enjoy pouring delicious, molten cheese straight into our mouths, a basic vehicle and some toppings can elevate the experience. And for quantities, you can go with one-third of a pound of raclette per person if it’s the main event… and a half-pound if you’re really getting after it.
The most important component, and perhaps the most humble, are potatoes. We’re not sponsored by yukon golds, but we’d certainly recommend them, to the tune of five potatoes per person. Additionally, a few cured meats like prosciutto, ham, bresaola, or salami are a no-brainer to serve alongside raclette. Our last essential is cornichon; the acidity is perfect for cutting through the heaviness of the meat and cheese.
A few other accoutrements that aren’t necessary, but good to have are breadsticks, and bell peppers and mushrooms for grilling. You can also consider an after-dinner salad. As for the wines…
“A lush creamy white pairs beautifully with all manner of cheese, with ripe fruit and mix of herbs and spices on the palate.”
“Raclette and Alpine wine go hand in hand, particularly when it comes from the Savoie region of France. This mountainous appellation borders Switzerland and has a rugged high-altitude terrain that is perfect for growing the high acid Jacquere variety.
Alexandra and Jérome Labbé of Domaine Roger Labbé make a perfectly crisp, green apple and lime tinged, white that finishes with chalky minerality. It is laser-focused and the perfect accompaniment to Raclette made from mountain Beaufort and Gruyere.”
“What could be a more perfect pairing with Raclette than the Swiss grape Chasselas, or, as they call it in Germany, Gutedel? Down in the southeastern most corner of Germany, just a 15-minute drive from the Swiss border is Ziereisen, a small family estate producing some of the most compelling red and (non-Riesling) white wines from Germany.
The Ziereisen Steinkrüble Gutedel 2020 is a dreamy raclette pairing. Reductive, textural, and a bit wild, it plays fantastically off that light Raclette funk, and pairs well with nearly anything you can put cheese on!”
THROW IN A WILD CARD
“Sake does not come to mind for most people when pairing with cheese, but among brewers and aficionados it is known as one of the best matches for Japan’s national beverage. Sake that is rich, creamy and deep in umami absolutely sings with soft cheeses. The Hojo Biden is golden amber in color from two years of aging, softening its sharp lactic acidity, when enjoyed at room temp or gently warmed the flavors of honey, almond and vanilla really blossom, making a beautiful compliment to melty raclette.”
“As Raclette cheese is heavy, the acidity and freshness that Felton Road Pinot Noir ‘Bannockburn’ 2021 delivers can cut through this richness. Additionally, Raclette is finished off with a concoction of spices, which will complement the herbal notes, red cherries, fresh strawberries and minerality found in this incredible Pinot Noir. Have these two together, and you’ll be kept warm during the long winter nights.”
By the time you’ve made it through your raclette, you’re probably pretty full, but there’s always room for dessert, right?
Keep it simple: clementines will refresh and balance out your palate, chocolate is on-hand because a taste can’t hurt at this point, and a glass of calvados can finish off the night.
“Cheese and Calvados are soulmates—everyone knows that! But the stars truly align when you pair the melty, rich goodness of raclette with Hors d’Age from Michel Huard-Guillouet that has been finished in ex-Amontillado casks for two years in Michel Couvreur’s whisky cave in Burgundy. The push and pull of oxidized and fresh fruit we already love in Huard-Guillouet’s brandies achieves new rapture with this extra barrel influence. Bass-note, bittersweet confection seduces the palate with a big enough personality to match the raclette, while verdant acidity manages to keep the whole pairing from pushing beyond the brink of excess. This is at least a PG-13 pairing if ever there was one.”
The beauty of raclette is in its simplicity, but we also take this dish as opportunity to slow down and enjoy the intricacies and flavor combinations of a single, star ingredient. A few bottles of wine, some close friends, and good conversation don’t hurt either.
Pröschtli, Santé, & Saluti!