Wine & Food Pairing for Spring
June happens to be a particularly loved-time in the restaurant industry and also no doubt for the many keen cooks amongst you. Emergence from the time known as the 'hungry gap' is in sight, and there is once again the opportunity to incorporate some seasonal freshness into our lives- it's finally time to pop away the carrots and kale!
Spring ingredients almost invariably call for wines that are fresh, fruit driven, and aromatic. Whether it’s the pungent bite of wild garlic, the chlorophyll-laden intensity of asparagus, the earthy bitterness of globe artichokes, the sharpness of rhubarb, or the first tangy berries; all of these flavours have similarities in their pairing themes.
With this in mind, the month of June will focus on food & wine pairings for the season. Our new mixed case features a selection of wines that are perfect for the key ingredients of the time of year and within this post we will explore how to pair with quintessential, but somewhat tricky produce of the season.
Stay tuned on social media this month, as some excellent chefs from the region contribute their recipes to our pages, featuring a stunning selection of spring ingredients and using techniques that are simple to replicate at home.. They will, of course, also be perfect accompaniments to the wines featured today.
Tricky Spring Pairings- Globe Artichokes & Asparagus
Globe artichokes contain a compound called cynarin, which unfortunately has the effect of latching onto the tiniest hint of sugar in wines, sometimes causing them to present as flabby, lacklustre and ultimately sweeter than they are.
The effects of this can be at least tempered, by adding additional flavours to dishes containing artichokes. For example, adding mayonnaise or hollandaise, or another rich dressing.
However, if dealing with the pure flavour of the vegetable, then do take the following into account:
Oak influence and the toasty, perhaps vanilla-y notes that come from it are a no-no, as these will instantly seem cloying and sweet. Instead choose wines that are particularly dry, pure in their fruit and have a good degree of acidity. Interactions with tannin will also be unpleasant, so avoid reds and orange wines! It's a personal opinion that dry, berry forward rose wines do particularly well with this tricky vegetable (and of course, a dry, herbal, Hungarian rose is included within our mixed case).
The issues with asparagus are two-fold. The first is that, it is particularly, well... Vegetal. It has a highly chlorophyll-dense flavour, with a deep grassy, herbaceousness. This profile alone creates limitations in the pairing world. But, then it additionally contains the compound, asparagusic acid, which often has the effect of making wines taste metallic.
Once again, the option is there to change the profile of what is being served; adding richness and fat will create more possibilities. But, when pairing with the specific flavours of asparagus, once again, do stay away from tannin and oak.
At this point most will suggest moving for something herbal, light, bright and citrussy- with Sauvignon Blanc being the most cited. Wines from this grape sometimes have an asparagus character within them, so predictably, they are complementary. However, whether we should wish to eat and drink two things that taste like asparagus simultaneously, is another matter!
Included in the mixed case, you will find our ultimate pick for asparagus- the Austrian grape Gruner Veltliner. The searing acidity provides freshness against the vegetal notes. The pleasant stone fruit contains a nice contrast and somehow the mineral quality of this particular grape, seems to glide over issues created by the asparagusic acid.