Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Exposed - Asparagus and Red Wine.

Common wisdom holds that it's very difficult to pair wine with asparagus. I'm not sure why this is so. Every spring asparagus flood the farmers markets for a month or so and I eat them like they're going out of style. Some wines work better than others, but this quest for perfection is kind of silly, I think.

Not sure if you know this about me, but I do like to drink wine with dinner. And so every spring I try to be thoughtful about what wine, exactly, works best with asparagus. I've thought about the sweet grassy flavor and whether or not it works with fruit-driven wines. I've thought about exactly which type of Sauvignon Blanc would be best. A couple of years ago I came up with something that worked pretty well, the Crémant du Jura by Montbourgeau, a sparkling Chardonnay. I've tried many pairings and feel like I've done my due diligence.

This past week I threw in the towel, I just stopped thinking about it. I opened whatever I felt like drinking and that was that. You know what - it was an odd pairing and it worked beautifully. But before I tell you about this, here's my new favorite way to eat asparagus:

Hard boil an egg for about 3 and a half minutes, so the yolks start to firm but are still runny. Drop the asparagus in salted boiling water for 2 minutes, unless you like them to be very soft. I like them to be a bit firm. How, you might be thinking, does he avoid the horrid pee smell if he eats firm asparagus? Here's how - using two hands, hold each asparagus at either end, and bend it fluidly until it breaks. It will break at the point on the stem where it stops being woody, and no further prep is needed. Drain the asparagus and plunge them into cold water to stop the cooking and to keep them bright and green. My new favorite thing is to top them with slices of this slightly runny hard boiled egg, very good olive oil, salt and cracked pepper. You can stop here, you can drizzle with vinaigrette, whatever you like. This time i used a couple of drops of good Sherry vinegar.

Puffeney's Trousseau is a wine that I've been drinking for only a few years, and with mixed results. The good bottles are fantastic, and they supposedly age very well, but I've had a few bad experiences recently (2005, 2007) and became discouraged. The other night I wanted a light bodied red wine with something of a woodsy character, and Puffeney it was. Wait - red wine...with asparagus? I'm not ashamed, people.

The 2008 Jacques Puffeney Trousseau Arbois Les Berangères, $32, Imported by Neal Rosenthal Wine Merchant, if this bottle is any indication, is a great version of this wine. Initially the aromas are all bright fruit and dried leaves, and the wine has good intensity in a lithe frame. I like the tactile sensation, the graininess of texture. With time the wine harmonizes and becomes less about fruit, more about purple flowers, and very much about leaves, sticks, rocks, and moss. great acidity and balance, delicious wine - exactly why I get excited about and buy this wine. Day 2 was truly excellent, by the way.

And honestly, it was great with the asparagus. Okay, it wasn't all harmony and unity, but the smells and flavors were interesting together and worked well, and I enjoyed my meal. Isn't that enough?


Anonymous said...

I've never understood the angst, or maybe I just have really insensitive taste buds. If asparagus is a main thing on my plate, I often reach for muscadet. I've never tried this, but I sense Sigalas Santorini would go well/better, especially if there are eggs.

Clotpoll said...

Muscat d'Alsace and Moscato d'Asti (if you like petillance) work great with asparagus, too!

Love your idea to roll the dice & stop thinking about pairing...which is a very '80s thing. Usually the only wine memories I have are about the people I eat with, anyway.

Anonymous said...

I didn't think I would leave this comment, in my world this pairing is kind of cliche - but only because it works so well:
Gruner Veltliner, it's fool proof with Asparagus. With a dish such as the one you've described, including the rich and delicious eggs (some prosciutto wouldn't hurt either) I'd recommend a weightier, slightly creamy Gruner Veltliner, such as something from the Lamm vineyard.

Also, it's a proven fact that if you drink Gruner Veltliner with Asparagus your pee won't smell so bad afterward. True story. Even if you do have to drink a LOT of it!

Greg said...

I'd vote for Muscat from Alsace. The grapey character of Muscat is perfect with asparagus.

Anonymous said...

Actually, it is a little known fact -- but you can google it and I can also attest it to being true....drinking a white from Jura will minimize the impact of the asparagus on the smell of your urine. It has something to do with the whites being oxidized...and the funk of the Jura cancels out the funk of the asparagus.

Clotpoll said...

Is it common for people to inhale the aroma of their own urine?

I used to think I was kinda f'ed up, but I'm feeling a lot more normal after reading this thread. :)

Joe said...

Alsatian Muscat is a brilliant companion to asparagus. Particularly, a 1990 Zind-humbrecht

Custom Labels said...

I love asparagus but have never fixed it like this with (sort of) hard boiled eggs. I'll have to try it. Thanks for sharing!