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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Asparagus & Wine…A Potentially Lethal Combo

                                              An un-oaked white Burgundy pairs beautifully

We are just returning from >month in South America and are thrilled to find that our Farmers Market now has a profusion of gorgeous asparagus.  This is an opportune time to discuss the oh-so-difficult (but-not-impossible) pairing of wine with the fabulous green edible. There are 3 rules of thumb in serving asparagus and a glass of wine together…

1.      Finesse it:

You’ll often find asparagus paired with a rich sauce….there’s a reason for this.  Creamy sauces tend to mitigate the grass and sulphur -like flavors of this vegetable.  If you can’t bear the thought of the butter and egg yolk-laden hollandaise or bernaise, then I suggest you move on to one of the other options below.

2.       Grill it:

This is rapidly becoming my favorite way of eating this delectable and pairing it with wine.  The char-grilling does something to dampen the herbaceous taste and makes it friendlier for wines.   Try it, you’ll like it.

3.       Hide it:

This past fall I brought home a suitcase of dried porcini mushrooms from Italy.  They have a strong, earthy flavor which can work beautifully to conceal the parts of the asparagus that wreak havoc with a wine.  The perfect combo?  A pasta of porcini and asparagus with a touch of cream added, and a dusting of Parmiggiano-Reggiano (yes, both of the latter add a whisper of butter fat…just enough, however, to help down play the characteristics of the asparagus that fight with a great glass of Barolo).  Magnifico.

General rules of thumb about what particular type of wine to serve with asparagus?  Many recommend pairing with a Sauv Blanc, but I’m not keen on this.  While the idea is to combine two similar flavor profiles (herbaceous), I find this over-whelming.  Wines with lots of acid are also not a good match as the acidity magnifies the metallic flavors in asparagus…this can be a really bad thing.  Moreover, avoid the big buttery, oaky Chards as they tend to overwhelm the delicate flavors of the asparagus.




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