Asparagus And Wine
Wine & more
Asparagus Seeks Wine, for Pairing and Partnership
As spring arrives, so too does Germany's beloved "Spargel" (white asparagus) season. Minds and mouths then turn to the perennial question: Which wines go best with Spargel, and other varieties of asparagus? Steffen Schindler, Marketing Director at the DWI, recently revealed his favorite pairings on "Volle Kanne," a show on German broadcaster ZDF (video). His main message: There's no one catch-all "asparagus wine." Just as there is a seemingly infinite range of recipes and preparations for this delicious vegetable, the choice of wine accompaniments is also wide open.
Asparagus's slightly bitter notes can, however, make it a tricky partner when it comes to wine. It often clashes when paired with the standard fruit-driven varietals. Possible alternatives: Silvaner, Weißburgunder, Grauburgunder and Rivaner (Müller-Thurgau). With their round acidity and delicate fruity aromas — reminiscent of pears, apples, nuts and flowers — they lull these savory stalks into submission, even coaxing out a bit of sweetness.
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To help with more pairings of wine and food, here's PAul.
Wine and Asparagus Pairings
White Asparagus – classic 'Spargel' is a true delicacy with its distinctive juxtaposition of mild, almost sweet and pleasantly bitter flavors.
The subtle aromas of Silvaner from Rheinhessen or Franken, as well as Gutedels from Baden provide flavor-rich asparagus with plenty of room to move and breathe.
Violet Asparagus – with slightly richer aromas than its snow-white sibling, and a correspondingly deeper bitter note as well.
Weißburgunder, such as a bottle from Baden or a fresh Rivaner from Franken, serve as excellent pairing companions.
Green Asparagus – the color is more intense, as are the aromas.
Rich aromas require a wine of suitable and similar weight. Pfalz Rieslings and powerful Grauburgunder and Chardonnay (unoaked) make an ideal complement.
Sauces – the classics include melted butter, chopped eggs, Hollandaise and tartar.
Rich sauces benefit from the contrast of a zippy wine pairing. While the fine spirited acidity in Mosel Rieslings serves to lighten a rich sauce, spicier versions demand a wine of considerable expression.
Salads – Asparagus with a mild vinaigrette or a mildly spiced dressing. If using vinegar, try white wine vinegar mixed with a bit of the asparagus broth.
Mild vinaigrette pairs beautifully with a Silvaner from Franken or an off-dry Rheingau Riesling, whose playful acidity ensures that its voice sings bright and clear.
Asparagus with Fish, Meat and Ham
Fish with Asparagus – fresh salmon or arctic char, poached or lightly sautéed in butter, with a touch of Hollandaise sauce — it doesn't get much better than this!
Elegant, expressive yet still slightly savory aromas require a balanced wine pairing: A friendly Weißburgunder from the Pfalz or a refreshing Rivaner from Franken represent ideal companions.
Pork – milder when cooked, while the traditional cured variety (from Italy or Spain) delivers a slightly nuttier yet mild spice.
The sweet nuances of the asparagus and the saltiness of the ham form beautiful gustatory counterpoints. We recommend young Riesling or Rheinhessen Silvaner with a delicately fruity character.
Savory meats ask a lot of the fine aromas of the asparagus. Veal or pork cutlet, or a mildly spiced roast, can feature an expressive range of aromas.
There are also expressive, robust wines with the rich aromatic range to more than hold their own. For a truly delicious pairing try Weißburgunder, Grauburgunder or Chardonnay such as those from Baden.
Ideas for an Open Air Asparagus Picnic
White wines that pair well with asparagus dishes should be served appropriately chilled. Whether at home or in a restaurant, there's always a solution: Should you find yourself on the beach, bury the chilled bottle in wet sand, or take advantage of the cold from a nearby brook. Or take a peek at one of our wine cooling bags, sleeves or chillers (available in the DWI Gourmet shop). Once pre-chilled in the refrigerator, they keep white wine at a proper serving temperature for a good long while.
So how best to prep the asparagus? Simply, with Hollandaise sauce and baby potatoes? Or a bit more daring: cooked al dente and wrapped in cured, thinly sliced ham (Black Forest, San Daniele, Bayonne, Serrano - whatever suits your taste). For extra flair, pair with a mild mayonnaise dip accented with yogurt, lemon juice, capers and parsley.
If you would prefer a picnic in the park, and the journey from oven to blanket is not too far, then try filling a puff-pastry with asparagus and dot it with plenty of butter and spice (salt, pepper, nutmeg). Bake in a hot oven and wrap up in aluminum foil to keep warm, or lay on a pan for transport to the park.
A refreshing option: a salad of asparagus, baby potatoes, smoked fish, and a few pieces of lemon and lemon juice dressing, olive oil and mustard, a pinch of sugar, cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Fill into a canning jar, or into several small jars, one for each diner. Any of the asparagus wines will make a beautiful pairing. And now: Enjoy the fresh air!