Germans are mad for white asparagus, called Spargel in Germany. They consume around 130,000 tonnes during the short growing season each year, from around mid-April until St John’s Day on 24 June.
White asparagus is actually the same species as green asparagus. The difference is that white asparagus is grown under the ground without exposure to sunshine, hence there is no production of chlorophyll to turn the asparagus green. The plants are buried in mounds of soil for two or three years to allow the stalks to mature before harvesting.
During the asparagus season, nearly every German restaurant serves Spargel dishes or menus. The smell of fresh white asparagus served on the plate and paired with a light wine from the region for the first time in a year signals that spring has finally arrived. The fragrances of asparagus and aromatic wine blend into a feast for all the senses.
White asparagus has a more delicate flavour than the green variety, along with a hint of bitterness and a nutty note. It is gentler, sweeter and more subtle in flavour than green asparagus. So what style of wine should we pair with this German delicacy?
Ernst Büscher from Wines of Germany says, “Germany’s elegant white wines harmonise perfectly with the delicate aroma of white asparagus. The aromas of the wine bring out the fresh flavour of the asparagus and also complement them on the palate.”
Lightly poached asparagus with hollandaise sauce goes well with a delicate Silvaner, Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) or Gutedel (Chasselas). If cooked with herbs such as tarragon or parsley, Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) is ideal in order to balance the flavours of the asparagus and herbs. Riesling, especially the off-dry style, is also a perfect companion to asparagus. The zesty acidity of Riesling helps to lighten oily fish, including salmon, char and trout, when served with asparagus. For stronger-flavoured dishes, Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) is just about perfect. The pairings are endless!
At this year’s Riesling Weeks, the month-long German wine promotion held during the month of June, Wines of Germany has invited selected restaurants to present German asparagus wine menus. Treat your senses like the Germans do at these outlets: Duddell’s (Hokkaido milk-poached asparagus with Chinese ham 北海道3.8牛乳煮白露筍 with Pinot Blanc), Dynasty (asparagus salad with deep-fried quail legs with Silvaner), Alibi (blue swimmer crab and asparagus with a dry Riesling), Ming Court (pan-fried M9 Wagyu beef with white asparagus in black peppercorn honey sauce 白蘆筍M9 和牛卷 with Pinot Noir), Namo Avant Thai, Sueno and Mirage Bar & Restaurant, as well as at MGM Cotai (Grill 58, Coast, Aji and Janice Wong MGM) and MGM Macau (Aux Beaux Arts). More details are available here.
In addition to the exclusive asparagus x wine promotion, nearly 100 outlets in Hong Kong and Macau will be offering German wine-pairing menus or special promotions. Enjoy the diversity of German wine with your friends. The list of outlets is available here.
If you would like to learn more about German wine, you shouldn’t miss the annual Riesling Weeks Kick-off Celebration hosted by the German Wine Queen on Friday, 31 May 2019 from 6–10pm at Renaissance Hong Kong Harbour View Hotel in Wanchai. There will be over 150 German wines to sample, games, lucky draws and more. Foodie readers can use the promo code RW-Foodie for further discounts. You can buy your tickets here.
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