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Pairing Wine with Asparagus

Asparagus needs wines with herbaceous or fruity notes

Fine Cooking Issue 26

When it comes to pairing wine, asparagus (along with artichokes) suffers a reputation as a “problem food” because it can make the wine taste grassy and sometimes even bitter. Grassy flavors are no problem if you like them: just serve a naturally herbaceous-tasting wine like Sauvignon Blanc to make the connection. Caymus and Grgich Hills, both from California, are good choices.

But if you’d rather tone down the green flavors, look for wines that are fruity, especially for recipes that contain fruit. Whites and reds can both work, depending on the dish’s other ingredients. Avoid those with heavy oak or tannin, or both — especially big Chardonnays and full-bodied reds — since vegetables can give these wines a rough, gritty texture. For Asparagus & Citrus Salad — wine friendly because of its citrusy (rather than vinegary) dressing — try a lively Alsace white like “Gentil” from Hugel, a fruity-floral blend of several traditional varietals.

For Asparagus Bread Pudding and Linguine with Asparagus, Morels & Cream, reach for red. Light, inexpensive Pinot Noirs like Napa Ridge or Lindeman’s from Australia nicely pick up on the earthy flavors. Or try Masi’s smooth Bardolino Classico.

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