Asparagus contains a sulfurous amino acid called methionine, plus a couple of other compounds called mercaptan and thiol.
Combine these, the vegetable’s intensely grassy flavour and the wrong wine, and you can have a pairing disaster. Very fruity wines or anything with too much tannin, such as oaked Chardonnay and most reds, fall into this category.
However, if you choose a wine with green flavour notes to match the asparagus, you can finesse a pleasant relationship.
Pairing asparagus with white or red wine
Whites are best – a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley in France is the most obvious choice, or try one from Ontario or Chile. Other whites, such as Grüner Veltliner, dry Riesling, Pinot Grigio and Chablis, can also work well.
In the red wine department, try a light Pinot Noir, a Gamay or a Barbera from Italy.
Sparkling wines are fine partners, too. Pour a glass of Cava, Crémant from the Loire Valley or a light Champagne – especially if your asparagus is topped with hollandaise sauce.
Grilling seems to intensify the sugars in asparagus and remove some of the bitterness, making it nicer with red wine. A sauce or creamy dressing will smooth out green flavours and broker a happy marriage with other wines.
If you strike out at first, keep trying – it’s worth the effort for that thrilling first taste of spring on the plate and in the glass.
Page 1 of 1