Fondues can be rustic or romantic or both! This Champagne Cheese Fondue is perfect for entertaining for 2 or for a gang.
Most Swiss fondues have white wine or Kirsch in them, which are both delicious too. This one has champagne in it which makes Champagne a perfect accompaniment to the meal.
What Are the Best Cheeses for Fondue?
- The cheese is going to be the overriding flavour of your meal so you will want to choose a cheese with some character, which is why Gruyère and Emmentaler are traditional choices.
- Pick semi-hard or soft cheeses that will melt smoothly. A Brie component or a neutral Fontina will melt nicely and help the texture of the fondue.
- Comte or young Gouda are also popular choices.
- Avoid seriously aged, dry cheeses like aged Gouda or Parmesan. Picture fresh Parmesan melted and it hardens into a crispy disc that holds it shape. Cheddar also does not melt in to the texture you are looking for. I tends to get a bit rubbery.
- Many fondue aficionados swear by a combination of 2 or 3 cheeses to help average out the texture and flavour.
- Grate your cheese before adding it to the pot to help ensure a smooth melt that doesn’t take forever. Overheating (heat too high for too long) risks the cheese sauce separating.
- The alcohol or lemon juice not only add flavour to the cheese sauce they actually aid in stabilizing the sauce. The cornstarch also helps to keep the sauce from breaking.
Fondue Can Be Casual or Romantic
It is a perfect Valentine’s dinner for two because you can prepare it all ahead of time and then enjoy a long, leisurely meal with little fuss. The recipe is written with quantities to serve 2 in a nod to Valentine’s so you will need to increase the quantities accordingly for the number of people you are serving.
It would also be perfect for a casual holiday meal, après ski, winter storm dinner, cottage dinner. Okay- pretty much any time.
Fondues can get a bad rap labeled as ‘retro’ or ‘so 60s’ but the truth is -they never go out of style. They are a classic! They sure don’t feel ‘cheesy’ (pun intended!) when you are huddled over a pot of melted cheese in an open air restaurant on the cobblestones of Old Zurich!
My family has a long tradition of fondueing on New Year’s eve and many other winter nights. Fondues are great for New Year’s eve…you spend hours with your friends and family lingering over great food and drink….what’s not to love!
Actually – true confession here- one of my high school yearbook entries called me ‘Queen of the Fondue!’ because when my Mom and Dad would go to Florida for a winter break I would host a fondue party for my friends!
Back to this delicious homemade 3 cheese fondue blend. I served it with the classic French bread cubes but also added some gourmet potatoes and broccoli in a nod to the low carb crowd. I made Salt Potatoes (because they are so good with cheese) and microwaved the broccoli florets until they were tender crisp. The vegetables are totally optional though depending on your dietary habits.
I added pickled onions as a condiment.
Add a generous side salad and you have a complete meal.
- I prefer an electric fondue over the open flame approach because it is so easy to adjust and control the heat level and there is no risk of fire from an open flame. If you are using fondue fluid or sterno watch the heat level carefully to avoid burning the cheese mixture. (Plus I have way too many burn marks and stories associated with the open flame approach!)
- The nutmeg and white pepper are optional -the fondue is delicious with or without them.
- If you are not using an electric fondue you may prefer to prepare the shallots, sparkling wine and melt the cheeses in a saucepan over gentle heat on your stove or in a microwave and then transfer to the fondue pot when you are ready to sit down. Just be sure to use gentle heat so you don’t scorch the cheese mixture.
Since there is champagne, actually sparkling wine because I used a Spanish Cava, in the cheese mixture it is a no brainer to continue to serve sparkling wine throughout the meal. Sparkling wines are famous for being versatile with food – they go with almost everything I can think of from popcorn and salty potato chips to savoury hors d’oeuvres, cheeses, chocolate.
The exception might be a heavy beef dish that has red wine in its sauce already.
Here are couple of good value sparkling wines to look for:
CONDE DE HARO BRUT CAVA 2015 (Traditional method, DO, Muga Spain)
168559 (XD) Score: 90 $19.95
JEAN GEILER BRUT CRÉMANT D’ALSACE, Traditional method,
(AC, Alsace, France)
624783 (XD) $21.95
FLAT ROCK RIDDLED SPARKLING 2011 Traditional method ( VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara Escarpment, Ontario, Canada)
75383315 750 mL (D) Score 91 $34.95
- 4 tsps cornstarch
- 1 Tbsps fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/4 cup sparkling wine
- 1 large shallot minced
- 2 cups Gruyere cheese coarsely grated (about 7 oz)
- 1 1/3 cups Emmenthal (or Swiss) cheese coarsely grated (about 5 oz)
- 1/2 cup Brie Cheese diced, rinds removed (about 3 oz)
- 1 French baguette
- pinch of nutmeg and white pepper optional
- Add lemon juice to cornstarch and stir to dissolve cornstarch. Set aside.
- Heat fondue and simmer shallot and sparkling wine for about 2 minutes. Remove pot from the heat and stir in the cheeses. Stir to combine all ingredients evenly. Return pot to the heat. Stir frequently while cheeses melt and become smooth. When fondue is smooth and bubbling, add the lemon/cornstarch mix to allow it to thicken. This may take about 12 minutes to melt and thicken. Add seasonings and keep pot over low heat while fonduing.
- While cheese is melting cut the baguette into 1" cubes .
- Boil or steam potatoes about 20 minutes and broccoli about 3 minutes (if using).
- Pass bread cubes and vegetables and start dunking them in the cheese fondue!