22 April 2021, The Tablet

The perfect match?

From the Vineyard

The perfect match?


THERE ARE few topics that elicit more humbug than food and wine pairing. Take, for instance, the dogma that fish should be accompanied by white wine only. The truth is that the only fish that cannot enjoyably be drunk with red is smoked salmon: everything else happily pairs with a carefully chosen, preferably light red.

Admittedly, some foods are difficult to pair but, as in any marriage, unhappy unions can result more from insufficient care than outright incompatibility. Asparagus, for instance, now coming gloriously (if early) into season in England, can make some wines taste like iron filings. The same is true of artichokes. In the case of asparagus, chlorophyll is the problem. But if carefully chosen and depending on how the asparagus is prepared, wine can coexist with asparagus to the benefit of both: sauvignon blanc, for instance, with steamed asparagus; or something bolder, perhaps a Provençal rosé, if roasted. With asparagus in combination, say, with bacon lardons, a poached egg and a light French dressing, champagne is close to perfection.

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