Austria's Wine and Asparagus – the Culinary Highlight of Spring
So historical, so culinary - so seductive
The ancient Egyptians appreciated asparagus, not only as a medicine, but also as an icon of culinary high pleasure – even deeming it a “food of the Gods”. Justifiably, its fine, mild flavour made asparagus popular with the Romans who, as with wine, spread it throughout Europe during their conquests. Asparagus remains a seasonal delicacy today and, especially when paired with wine, easily lives up to its historically divine reputation.
Perfect Spring pleasure – how to have it
Freshness is of utmost importance when it comes to buying asparagus. This is underscored by an old pleasant saying: “picked in the morning; eaten at midday”. Asparagus spears are fresh if they make a squeaky sound when they are rubbed together. Their freshness also can be seen when they are cut. And if there is not enough time to cook the asparagus right away, then they can be kept in the refrigerator for one or two days when wrapped in a damp towel. Wine, however, is not as complicated when it comes to storage. Because white wines are ideal partners for asparagus, a key point of awareness is their serving temperature; appropriate chilling brings out optimal flavours as well as pleasant acidity on the palate. For light to medium-bodied white wines, a serving temperature of 8-11°C is ideal.
Dished up: wines for asparagus
The right selection of wine depends on how the asparagus is prepared – cooked, baked, steamed or roasted. In principle, white wines with well-integrated acidity and discreet fruitiness complement asparagus dishes best. Ideal partners are the Austrian all-rounder, Grüner Veltliner, and Riesling. Also indigenous varieties, such as Neuburger, Rotgipfler and Zierfandler, fit the bill as well, whether they are matured in steel tanks or in large wooden casks. And there are the versatile wines of the Burgundy family: Weissburgunder, Grauburgunder and Chardonnay, in styles from classically fresh to full-bodied, harmonise wonderfully with asparagus. Then there is the popular international variety, Sauvignon Blanc, and the traditional Viennese favourite, Wiener Gemischter Satz; in young or medium-bodied styles, they bring a balance of flavours to the seasonal dishes.
Because chefs and sommeliers aren't exactly falling in droves from the sky, first-time pleasure tasters are recommended to read the culinary brochure “Asparagus and Wine”, created by the Austrian Wine Marketing Board.
Asparagus & Wine