This week in his wine column, my colleague Dave McIntyre writes about aligote, “the second white wine of Burgundy.” Though Dave sings aligote’s praises, he also rightly mentions that aligote is the wine to which the French add creme de cassis, the black-currant liqueur, to make a kir.
This was a good reminder — aligote is a highly acidic wine and a good match for the thick, sweet creme de cassis. It was such a good reminder, in fact, that I decided to revisit the kir this week, using aligote. It was definitely an improvement on a tricky cocktail.
I have written before about the kir and its bubbly cousin, the kir royale, made with champagne or Cremant de Bourgogne. Actually, I sort of disparaged the kir royale a couple summers ago in a column: “Poor Félix Kir, is what I always think! The French priest risked his life in the Resistance fighting the Nazis, and this is the drink they named after him.”
Since then, I’ve discovered my problem with the kir, both regular and royale. I’d actually been using lousy creme de cassis. Real creme de cassis must come from Dijon, the capital of Burgundy, which explains aligote’s natural pairing.
So avoid the domestic stuff and look for brands like L’Heritier-Guyot, Joseph Cartron or Domaine Lucien Jacob, which are available in the United States. The concoction is simple: Pour about a half-ounce of creme de cassis into a wine glass, then fill with chilled white wine. I also like a variation on the kir royale, the Ostend Fizz Royale, which calls for a little bit of kirsch (or kirschwasser), a clear cherry brandy, in addition to creme de cassis.
Now that I use good creme de cassis and aligote, I’ve realized my earlier folly, and I will be enjoying a kir, which seems to go best with sunny, late-spring afternoons.