The Truth About Wine and Asparagus

Asparagus is a spring and summer favorite, but it can be difficult to pair with wine. F&W’s Ray Isle explains which styles work with the famously hard-to-pair spring vegetable. Because we at the Wine Ambassador want to help you discover new ways to bring out the best in your favorite foods by adding the perfect wine pairing, we thought this article would be a great resource.

The Truth About Wine and Asparagus

Original article found on Food & Wine.com


by Ray Isle

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When it comes to vegetables, asparagus is a strange one. First off, it can grow up to seven inches per day in good weather, which means we should be glad farmers harvest it, or else asparagus would soon take over the world. Second, well, as Pierre Larousse put it in his Grand Dictionnaire Universel, “Tout le monde connaît l’odeur fétide qu’elle communique à l’urine.” You don’t have to speak French to know what he’s talking about. And third, asparagus messes with wine. (Image: Roasted Asparagus with Lemony Bread Crumbs)

Simply put, it’s a very vegetal vegetable—that chlorophyll-driven green flavor that’s part of what makes it delightful clashes with a lot of wines. More important, it contains compounds like asparagusic acid, which, in case you were wondering, is an organosulfur carboxylic acid... Well, enough of that. Basically, the stuff makes a lot of wine taste metallic and harsh. Not an ideal situation.

But the asparagus-and-wine lovers of the world shouldn’t despair.

You can always do something like slather your asparagus with buckets of cheese sauce—voilà, wine-friendly asparagus, sort of—or, better yet, choose a wine that goes well with the stuff. Stay away from tannic reds or oaky whites and go for something citrusy, herbal and unoaked, for instance a Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé from France’s Loire Valley, Grüner Veltliner from Austria, Alsace Riesling, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, even unoaked Chardonnay, especially from a cooler region like Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Or you could go crazy and serve your asparagus with actual asparagus wine, made from fresh asparagus by the fine folks at the Fox Barn Market & Winery in Shelby, Michigan.

Pairing food and wine is a fun process of trail and error, but our goal at the Wine Ambassador is to inspire our community to try new things. We hope this article adds to your creativity as you plan your next spring meal featuring asparagus!