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The Perfect Wine with Asparagus?

Oregon Pinot noir & Pinot gris

Oregon asparagus announces the possibility of spring. Tender young asparagus spears from the first farmer's markets of the year are delectable treats, but choosing a wine to drink with them can be a problem. Asparagus' unusual flavors often clash with wine. Sucessful asparagus and wine pairings test the mettle of both Sommelier and Chef.

Four Ways to Pair Asparagus with Wine

In searching through cookbooks and websites, it's apparent that plain old cooked asparagus and wine just don't go together. You have to finesse it. Three ideas show up over and over. First - serve it with a creamy sauce. Second, grill it and let the char flavor soften the asparagus taste. Third, combine the asparagus in a dish that goes well with wine.

Living Dangerously - Plain Asparagus and Wine

If you really want to serve plain asparagus with wine, a light steaming of the sweetest, youngest, tender stalks, served immediately with a simple butter and lemon glaze, may suffice. Then choose a really well balanced wine with lots delicate fruit and a minerally finish like the new Biggio Hamina Pinot blanc 06 $14.95/$13.45.

Beware of wines with lots of acid, or wines with big buttery flavors, like oaky Chards. An overly acid wine is going to bring out the metallilc flavors in the asparagus, while the big, buttery Chard will overwhelm the delicate flavors, leaving you with an oily butter hit and not much else.

The Creamy Sauce Method of Pairing Asparagus with Wine

Professional chefs recommend serving asparagus with rich sauces that cut the sometimes grassy, sulfurous quality of the vegetable. Hollandaise is most mentioned, and a Bernaise sauce is favored by some. Any creamy sauce will soften and integrate the flavors of asparagus and wine. With a Hollandaise glazed asparagus, try Capitello's Pinot gris 06 $17.95/$16.16. Ray makes his Pinot gris with lots of apricot and floral notes, and a lively acidity that dances with the lemon of the Hollandaise in the mouth.

Larger asparagus stalks taste best when grilled - blanche the spears first, toss them with olive oil, then char them in the broiler or on an outdoor grill. The char flavor seems to round off the asparagus's native tang.

More wines pair with asparagus when it is combined in a dish with other ingredients. Asparagus Flan offsets the vegetable with rich, creamy flavors. Asparagus combines with other spring treats to make a Wild Mushroom and Asparagus Salad. Tagliatelle pasta plus wild Oregon morels and Porcinis plus Oregon asparagus in a creamy sauce is a memorable combination. And Asparagus wrapped with Prosciutto, served with hollandaise for dipping, might be just the out of the ordinary treat for the next big game.

Eggs, whether in Hollandaise or as an ingredient in an asparagus flan, complement the vegetable

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