As those white spears of Germanic joy are about to poke their heads out of the soil, one question is about to get a whole lot more popular in wine stores all over the country “Welcher Wein passt gut zu Spargel? (Which wine can I drink with Spargel?)”.
Spargel itself is a phenomenon – it is nothing other than white asparagus. For the average German, Spargel is a key point in the year – whilst this can partially be linked to the culinary Vielfalt of the stuff and people enjoying the taste, it is more a celebration of the weather getting slightly better, the days getting slightly longer and serves as an excellent introduction to eating in the garden or on the balcony again after all those months sitting close to the heating eating dark meat, potatoes and cabbage.
What I like about Spargel is that it’s one of the few times in the year where people feel the need to buy their vegetables regionally – it’s more than just an old wives’ tale that the best Spargel comes from the closest producer – people actually spend more on local asparagus produce rather than importing stuff from Peru and Greece like they do for most of the rest of the year. Alright, most people mix the local asparagus with Israeli or Egyptian potatoes (they’re not in season here and Spargel should only be served with small, fresh potatoes) and out-of-the-packet Hollandaise – still, most are prepared to spend a few cents more on wine – next to Christmas and Easter, Spargel-season is the time of year people are prepared to spend most of wine – which is fabulous!
Many opt for the industry producers who pay lots of money to have a stand full of their wine next to the asparagus section that springs up in every supermarket all over the country – one brand: Blanchet (owned by Rotkäppchen-Mumm) is well-known for this and, unfortunately, many will be blinded by the brand’s own asparagus-infused branding.
However, just like real asparagus, real wine isn’t just made any-old-where from any old produce – the fitting wine needs to be from somewhere local as well – preferably Germany!
I’m often asked what makes a good wine for asparagus (especially at this time of year) and I have three golden rules: young (2014 vintage although most 2013 wines will still be fresh enough), light (nothing oaky, no red wine) and refreshing (splash of acidity, lots of fruit, dry). It really is as easy as that, varietals such as Müller-Thurgau, Silvaner, Chasselas and Pinot Blanc are for me the obvious choices but, from the right production area, the somewhat more-hefty Riesling, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grapes can work too, even Rosé can work….just not too heavy and not too dark.
Here are my 2015 Spargelwein recommendations. All of them are from Germany and all of them are from the 2014 Vintage. If you have any questions, please get in touch and I’ll gladly get back to you.
Some of these wines are available in the UK - if you need help in getting hold of them where you live, please get in touch and I'll gladly assist you. The wines are all widely available in Germany.
So, it is almost upon us.
For anyone who lives in Germany, their diet is about to change. Around about this time of year the entire population of Europe’s biggest nation swaps its hearty meat and potato dishes for what is probably the national dish of the German spring/summer: Spargel.
Spargel is of course asparagus but not as you know it: white, creamy and a bit softer than the elegant green spears you might be used to. Only German Spargel will do, since February imports from Peru, Greece and Spain have been lurking around in supermarkets close to me but once the first German white or violet asparagus emerges from the farms of the Niederrhein, Münsterland and Ostwestfalen, my city is going to be in asparagus elation for the next three months.
Usually eaten with a few slices of cooked ham, small cooked potatoes and buttery Hollandaise (in most homes from the sachet or tetra-pak), Spargel is one of the only national dishes that can take the avid beer drinker away from his fizzy, yellow drink – Spargel is a wine dish and I’m here to suggest a few great wines you might want to try with asparagus this time around. All of these wines are German and all are dry.
The Wildcard...Meyer-Näkel Rosé 2011
Of course, asparagus is best enjoyed with white wine but you can drink red or rosé with this traditional dish as long as you adhere to certain rules. Of course, I’d only used lighter Pinot Noir wines with little in the way of spice and earth, certainly nothing with Barrique or heavy wood notes. Württemberger Trollinger and Lemberger cuvees work especially well too though (put them in the fridge).
This rosé is derived entirely from Pinot Noir in Germany’s Ahr Valley – try it with the traditional asparagus dish and substitute the cooked ham for either smoked ham or smoked white fish – you can even add a few (skinless) cubes of tomato to the sauce for a match made in Hollandaise.
What do you think? Do you enjoy asparagus? Do you have a wine you particularly enjoy with this classic dish. If you have a recipe, I’d be very grateful to receive it. Use the comment form below or send me an e-mail here. Cheers!