Wade Cothran | Sep 28, 2020

Pairing Wines with Tricky Ingredients

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Food and wine pairings are tricky business. Here you are, just trying to adult and buy something other than box wine. And you're looking at the bottles (mom will be so impressed when she comes to dinner!) But you're stumped. What the heck goes with asparagus?! Matching the flavors of your dish and body of your wine takes a lot of thought and preparation. No wonder most of us just go with whatever's written on the back of the wine bottle!

There are certain ingredients and dishes out there that are especially difficult to pair with wine. Now, this might sound like a massive first-world problem, but a poor pairing can cause both your food and your wine to taste horrible. (What'll mom think now?!) But don't worry, BrüMate's got your back. Let's take a look at the world's most difficult ingredients to pair, and we'll find a wine selection for each one!

Pair Asparagus with a Gruner Veltliner Wine



No list of difficult food and wine pairings would be complete without some mention of asparagus. It's notoriously tough for pairing with wine because good asparagus combines green vegetal flavors, sweetness, and bitterness. It famously makes wine taste awful. It brings out metallic, bitter, and clashing notes when it meets with the wine on your palate. Is this a big problem? Yes. Asparagus deserve to be paired with the perfect wine!

Thankfully, there is a solution out there: Austria's signature wine style, the Gruner Veltliner (starting at about $10/bottle). This crisp white wine from central Europe has a long history of being paired with asparagus. It's needle-sharp, bone dry, and works with a massive array of vegetable dishes. (Not to mention Thai curries!) If you're eating asparagus, it is by far the best wine to go for.

Pair Barbecue Sauce (And Other Ketchups) With a Riesling Wine



Let's face the facts: American street food and 'dirty' cuisine are big right now, all across the world. Ribs, burgers, pulled pork, brisket, chicken wings, barbecue… the list goes on and on and on. Which is great. But how on Earth do you match a wine with the sweet, spicy, smokiness of barbecue sauce? It's a nightmare to find a wine that can stand up to even half of those flavors. But we've found the perfect pairing for you.

Riesling (starting at about $8/bottle) is a Germanic grape that offers masterful balance on the palate. It's dry, acidic, but has a subtle residual sweetness. And that's exactly what you need when it comes to pairing with these dominating sauces. Riesling has a fair amount of body for a white wine, so can easily stand up to pork, chicken, sausages, and even some beef dishes, making it the best wine for this type of cuisine. 

Pair Blue Cheese With Dessert Wine



Port is the classic pairing for blue cheese. But this classic stand up to the test of time? The killer alcohol content of Port massively overwhelms the subtle notes of most blue cheeses. While maybe okay for Danish Blue, Port isn't a very good match for Gorgonzola, Dolcelatte, or Stilton at all! It obliterates the smoothness and lingering aftertaste that makes these cheeses so great!

So with your Gorgonzola, try a good quality dessert wine: something like a Sauternes, an Eiswein, or a Tokaji. It might be a bit of a splurge (the cheapest desserts wines are still about $25/bottle) but it'll be worth it. That combination of blue cheese salty, savory, intensity, and the candied nuts and fruit sweetness of dessert wine is a match made in heaven!

Pair Hummus With a Beaujolais or Gamay Wine



Everyone loves hummus. It has a rich, creamy, and savory flavor that always hits the spot. And whether it's eating a fancy chickpea salad, or stuffing carrots and pita chips on the couch, it deserves a wine to go with it. 

Hummus and other chickpea products like falafel aren't necessarily hard to pair with wine. What will mess you up is the stubborn old myth that wine should be paired according to the color of the food. Yes, hummus and chickpeas are pale, but they don't pair well with white wines, at all. (They're too acidic!) Instead, try a Beaujolais or Gamay wine (starting at about $10/bottle.) They will better highlight the flavor of your hummus dish.

Pair Tomatoes With a Sangiovese Wine



The humble tomato - a real staple of so many popular cuisines - is a real bugger to match with wine. It is something to do with the blend of sweetness and acidity. They're hard to pair whether in a pizza, a pasta sauce, or a stew. 

For dishes with a thick and rich tomato sauce - like spaghetti bolognese or a margarita pizza - you can't go wrong with a bright and sunny Sangiovese from Tuscany (starting at about $8/bottle). However, for fresh tomatoes, a Provence rose (about $13/bottle, cheapest) always seems to hit the spot. It's got that acidity and residual sweetness that works wonders!

Pair Eggs With a Sparkling Wine, Champagne, or Prosecco 

Eggs are weird, aren't they? They're somewhere between sweet and savory, bland and flavorful, and taste like absolutely nothing else. Unsurprisingly, they're also really hard to pair with wines, which is a problem, as so many classic recipes - from frittata to quiche, and souffle to custard - use eggs as their principal ingredient.

If you aren't sure what to pair with your food, then bring out the sparkling wine. That's right. The classic brunch wine! (Duh, we should've known!) Try a Cava (starting at about $8/bottle), a Cremant (starting at about $15), or a Champagne (about $20/bottle). Sparkling wine has the acidity and bite that makes it a brilliant pairing with absolutely anything. And most sommeliers would agree that Champagne and eggs work very well indeed! 

Best of luck with your food and wine pairing experiments and explorations! Make sure to check out BrüMate wine glasses or wine bottles, to keep your wine temperature controlled. They're great for one the go (hello, BBQs?) and for patio parties (serve up all the hummus and wine you want!)