Anyone who studies the subject of wine with asparagus extensively will find that everyone agrees to disagree. Almost no grape variety remains unnamed and the ordinary wine drinker is left with only one thing – absolute confusion. However, this does not have to be the case.
This post is about untangling the web of wine recommendations for asparagus and providing some helpful tips for wine selection. The fact is: asparagus rarely comes alone and this opens up a wide selection of suitable wines besides the well-known Silvaner. But first, let’s turn our attention to the basics of choosing wine to go with asparagus.
Asparagus and wine – A difficult partnership
Asparagus has a picky nature when it comes to wine selection. Preferably low acidity, not too aromatic and in general the wine should have a lean and fresh character. However, this rule only applies when asparagus is served plain – at most with a little melted butter – which rarely happens. In this case, you go quite well with a classic Silvaner. But a Grüner Veltiner also leaves a pleasing impression here and brings some variety to the glass.
Basics of Wine & Food Pairing
When choosing a wine to pair with food, there are two basic concepts: Harmony and contrast. Anyone professionally involved in design and color will be suspiciously familiar with these terms from color theory. With a harmonious wine selection, try to pick up the flavors on the plate and find a wine that brings similar notes. With a contrasting wine pairing, the dominant component of the dish is balanced with its flavorful counterpart. Since this whole concept is beyond the scope of this article, I have briefly summarized the basic rules for choosing the right wine.
Because of its bitter notes, asparagus reacts finickily to acid-driven wines like Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc. The acid would unsightly intensify these flavors and leave an unpleasant taste.
5 basic rules for choosing the right wine with food
- Wines should have the same flavor intensity as the food.
- Wines with strong character to accompany intense dishes
- light wines with light dishes
- Wines with tannins (bitters) are suitable for fatty dishes.
- The wine is always based on the dominant component on the plate.
Wine with asparagus – The preparation sets the tone
Not all asparagus is created equal. White, green and purple varieties differ seriously in their flavor intensity. While pale asparagus has more graceful flavors, the green and purple varieties taste more intense and have more tart notes. For this reason, not every wine goes well with every asparagus. So the one asparagus wine does not exist.
As already touched upon in the basic rules above, the choice of the right wine is based on the dominant component on the plate. If you serve your asparagus with a hollandaise sauce, it has a strong effect on the wine selection and brings a grape variety back into play that we had actually ruled out before – Riesling.
If an aromatic sauce is on the plate, it sets the tone. The bitter notes of the asparagus fade quietly into the background and we have to worry about the oily, acidic hollandaise sauce with the wine. Already, a slightly green-toned Sauvignon Blanc is back in the running, as the bitter notes of the asparagus are masked by the sauce.
The right wines to go with asparagus
As you can see, there is no universal answer to the question of which wine goes with asparagus. The correct answer is highly dependent on the preparation, the asparagus variety and the rest of the components on the plate.
For this reason, in the table you will find some wines and the asparagus dishes that go with them.
Wines that go with asparagus
|Asparagus with or as:||The matching wines|
|white asparagus (pure)||Grüner Veltiner, Silvaner, Pinot Blanc|
|green asparagus (pure)||Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Fruity Rosé|
|purple asparagus (pure)||Rivaner, Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Müller-Thurgau|
|Sauce hollandaise||Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc. Scheurebe|
|Asparagus salad||Müller Thurgau, Silvaner, semi-dry Riesling|
|Fish||Sauvignon Blanc, Silvaner (char), Riesling (salmon), Pinot Blanc (salmon), Pinot Blanc, Chasselas, Müller-Thurgau|
|Ham||Silvaner, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling|
|Light meat||Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Chasselas|
|Seafood & Crustaceans||Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Müller-Thurgau|
|Asparagus au gratin||Pinot gris, Chardonnay|
|Cream of asparagus soup||Green Veltiner, Riesling, Silvaner|
Sometimes a wheat beer does the trick
As you can see, the wine selection with asparagus is bigger than you think. The main rule here is to always stay relaxed, because none of this is set in stone. If there’s asparagus on your plate, but you’re craving an Argentinian Malbec, whistle for the top list! Always drink what you feel like. Wine is a pleasure food and there is nothing worse than to diminish its enjoyment by stress or any rules. And if you don’t feel like wine today, a wheat beer or even water will do. If anyone wants to tell you that it can’t be done and that you have to drink this or that wine with asparagus, you can safely ignore it.