Spring? Enjoy asparagus and wine!

“They turned my chamber-pot into a vase full of fragrant perfume”

Marcel Proust-A la recherche du temps perdu (1913).
asperagus wine food combination

Asparagus, wine, and spring

It is spring again in the Netherlands at the moment I’m writing this blog. The sun shows itself more and more. So we can go outside more often. The asparagus also shows their heads above ground again. They are early this year. I have already bought my first asparagus in mid-March. It looks great for the asparagus grower to have such a nice spring weather, but I have already heard sounds from growers who don’t even bother to harvest their asparagus because the price is currently too low. That’s because the asparagus are earlier than in other years. Many restaurants that are important customers were not yet ready for them in terms of the menu. It was therefore sometimes not even profitable for the grower to harvest the asparagus (until a few weeks ago).

Harvest peak

In addition, like every year the growers face a huge harvest peak when the weather is good. Suddenly there is a large offer that depresses the price. Nice for the consumer. As an asparagus enthusiast, this is a wonderful time. They are plentiful in supermarkets or at the greengrocer’s and very affordable.

which wine goes well with asparagus?

But which wine goes well with asparagus? Because fair is fair. Asparagus does have a special, delicate taste. If you choose a wine to drink with, you want the wine-food combination to be good. The delicate asparagus flavors must still come out well and the wine should taste good. In my childhood, I saw that my parents opted for an Alsace Pinot Blanc or Pinot Gris as standard. Not a bad choice. Those wines are nice and fresh, slightly fruity, but neutral enough to support the asparagus’ taste. So we can safely follow my parents’ initiative. Make sure you choose a nice dry Pinot Blanc (Weissburgunder) or Pinot Gris (Grauburgunder-Pinot Grigio) and one without or a minimal of aging on wood. You don’t want the vanilla flavor or herbal aroma caused by the use of wood to beat the asparagus aromas.

Choices to make

I assume that you will be cooking / steaming the asparagus. With asparagus from the wok or roasted, a wine with wood aging could be used. Unfortunately, there are winemakers from Alsace who have too much residual sweetness in their wine. Tasty maybe, but not with the asparagus. Of course, you can choose other wines than mentioned in this article. You might as well choose a wine from another region or country from the same grape.

Are there any alternatives?

A Sancerre from the Loire is also a perfect match with asparagus. Just like a Sauvignon Blanc from New-Zealand. Make sure you’ll choose a young and green style. A too bold style of Sauvignon Blanc with tropical aromas will totally take over your dish. A nice Saumur Blanc is also an excellent choice. A German Riesling could be a tricky choice. But if you have a nice and dry Riesling it could actually be a perfect match. My last suggestion would be an Australian – or South-African Sémillon.

More than enough suggestions I would say. Enjoy your asparagus and cheers. Let me know what choice you’ve made and how it turned out.

Which wine to choose

-“A meal with the right wine becomes a dinner”-

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Which wine do you choose to combine with your dinner or snacks? Always a difficult question.  Does it really matter? Absolutely! A wrongly chosen wine can make your delicious dish a lot less tasty. And vice versa a dish can reduce a delicious wine to an uninteresting liquid. Both parts must complement and reinforce each other. But how do you do this? The basics:


Sweet dish: sweet is looking for sweet
A sweet dish can screw up every wine. The wine can even taste bitter. Such a waste. A main course with a touch of sweetness (perhaps you have used delicious ripe fruit) could best be combined with a semi-dry wine, which also has a touch of sweetness or even full-bodied wine.  
If you are looking for a wine matching a sweet dessert, always go for a wine that is sweeter than the dish itself. Obviously you’ll end up choosing a dessert wine or PX (Pedro Ximénez) sherry.


Sour dish: sour is looking for sour
A wine with a sour dish? Is this possible? Sure!  Do you have a sharp vinaigrette or a lot of citruses? Make sure to choose a crispy wine with a lot of acidity. You will notice how pleasantly this will combine. The fruits of the wine will become more noticeable. If you take a wine that is too mild, you will notice that it will appear too mild after a sour bite of food.


Salt dish: Salt tempers acidity ( and vice versa) & Salt is looking for sweet
Salt is a great combination with wine. It takes off the hard edges. A salt dish goes wonderfully well with a wine having high acidity. You’ll get the most fantastic combinations here. Take a Sauvignon Blanc with a bag of chips, salted nuts or pretzels. Mmmm.
Also, sweet wines go amazingly well with a salt dish. Try a salty cheese with a glass of sweet wine and you’ll know what I mean.


Bitter dish: Bitter is looking for bitter or few tannins & enough acidity
Dishes such as radicchio, chicory or arugula can be difficult to combine with wine. Bitters tend to pile up. I recommend a white wine or a wine with few tannins but enough acidity. If you choose too soft a wine, it will be a bit disappointing


Umami dish: Umami is looking for fruity
Umami could be described as a savory taste. Umami often comes in combination with other flavors such as sweet and salt. In that case, making a wine-food combination is easier.
Asparagus, egg, mushroom and ripe soft cheeses (without further processing) are considered to be difficult to combine. In that case, choose fruity wines with few tannins, because Umami emphasizes the bitterness of the tannins.
Saké, dry sherry or Vin Jaune from Jura are also beautiful combinations.


Greasy dish: fats are looking for high acidity or a lot of tannins ( or both)
The fats from the dish must be broken in order to combine well with wine. Choose a wine with high acidity or wine with tannins (or both). A young Nebbiolo will do well with creamy cheese sauce. A young burgundy will combine with a fatty fried goose.

Note: I chose the rough basic tastes as a starting point. It makes a big difference whether you have basic cooked chicory, chicory lettuce with a vinaigrette or chicory with a creamy cheese sauce. The additives will considerably influence the dish. In that case you then have to adjust your wine selection accordingly.