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Fresh asparagus at the market. An unmistakable messenger of spring. It attracts me, I can't walk past it. It is even local asparagus, first coaxed from the warm soil. At this moment, I don't think about the fact that philosophies have already been developed on the now decisive question: "Which wine goes with asparagus?" I just know: there is still no valid answer. But on this topic, Google delivers 56 results in 0.19 seconds, in German alone. If you only enter asparagus and wine, without inverted commas, there are - surprise, surprise - 2.9 million hits. Even 50 suggestions are actually too many for me. And I don't know what to do with the recurring answer: "There is no such thing as the 'right' or 'ideal' asparagus wine. And so - year after year - I have to master the same challenge. Which wine goes well with asparagus? No one seems to be able to help me. I just have to go through it - again and again - as soon as the asparagus sprouts.

Asparagus and strawberries are ripe (Photo: P. Züllig)

A wine merchant who sends me his (good) sales programme year after year suggests nine wines, from Prosecco extra dry to rosé, a red is not among them. His conclusion (actually logical, almost compelling!): "As you can see, there is more to asparagus than always just Silvaner and Co. There are so many things, the only thing that helps is to try them out! Therefore, here is my tasting package at the 'tasting-friendly' special price of 72 euros." 72 euros, just so I can find out which wine should accompany my asparagus in the future. Only - asparagus won't be on the table more than nine times this year either. And next year? By then I'm sure I'll have long forgotten my findings - if there are any - and the ultimate right wine may no longer be available.

I - the red wine drinker - am much more sympathetic to another statement in the Google offer: "Why white asparagus goes with red wine and green asparagus with white wine". Firstly, the asparagus goes with the wine (and not the other way round) and secondly, I at least have a chance of getting red wine when eating asparagus. Moreover, the colour combination red-white makes much more sense to me in Switzerland than white-white. I read on eagerly: "Asparagus cleanses the blood, stimulates urination and is used - i.e. eaten - in cases of anaemia or influenza as well as in cases of liver, lung, intestinal and urinary problems". It may all be true, but I have already noticed the urinary problem myself. After a longer digression: "Back to asparagus: Of the two types of asparagus, one still grows in the soil, the other grows up to the light. There photosynthesis starts, polyphenols, cell substances (lignified cell parts) as well as new and other aromas are formed. Thus, a white 'earth asparagus' is not only more tender than the exposed one, it is also poorer in tannins, cell substances and aromas. So it complements red wine very well.... The opposite is true for green asparagus, which has more polyphenols: White wine, which is poorer in polyphenols, goes well with it."

Green and white asparagus (Photo: P. Züllig)

I'm standing at the greengrocer's stall. All the produce is from the farm. It's clear to me: only white asparagus comes into question. The red wine has a chance. Hmmm. I imagine a whole range of reds: a Languedoc, of course, a Pinot Noir, maybe even a Loire wine, and how about an Italian, from Piedmont or even Abruzzo...?

Google will certainly help, or should I change the programme? Impatiently I read on. First comes the chapter with all the possible ingredients. They are decisive. Heavy sauces tolerate neither white nor red wines". I hastily skim the text, wanting to know which red wine I should open today. Finally the last chapter, the solution or redemption: "From which you can see: The choice of wine to go with asparagus is open and depends on the preference of the connoisseur - and on the tasty accompaniment of the asparagus on the plate." Puzzled, I push away the (long known) "new" insight and set off for the next piece of advice. I still have 54 chances.

The white asparagus has long since been wrapped. It cost 3.50 euros, the bunch, still a bit expensive, but they are the first stalks on the market. But back to the all-important question: "Which wine goes with the asparagus I bought?" The next disappointment awaits: "A white wine generally goes better with the classic asparagus dishes, but there are exceptions..." Heavens, yes, I'm looking for that exception! All the tips on offer - from Riesling to Pinot Gris - suggest white wines. On to the next recommendation!

Arriving home with my asparagus bunch, I actually want to disappear into the cellar to get a wine. But which one?

The decision is clear% it has to be white asparagus (Photo: P. Züllig)

Patiently I continue to google: "Wine and asparagus - a sensual affair!" I can only agree. But the tip: "Johannisberg... its rich fullness and its varietal-typical, charming flavour inspires. A hint of residual sweetness completes the harmony..." This cannot inspire me - in search of a suitable red. I'm starting to get nervous: where is the exception? Where the complement to the photosynthesis of a white asparagus?

The click on the next website also brings a bitter disappointment. Advertising, nothing but advertising. Something like: "Find the ideal wine to go with asparagus - with home delivery." And this without a return function from the website - so I remain "trapped" in the middle of the advertisement and have to restart the Google function. I'm not going to be fooled that quickly.

High time to wash and peel the asparagus. Hunger and, above all, desire are making themselves felt. Ratchet, ratchet, ratchet... Not too much gone, not too little... These stalks can't be woody yet.

To the next - already almost desperate - wine-finding attempt: "New asparagus ideas". Yes, that's what I'm looking for! Then: "In our free brochure you'll find interesting recipes with wine recommendations". I find this reference to the free brochure, which of course can be ordered, almost mean. But the keyword inspires me: wine recommendations. This is probably the most promising keyword for the computer. Let's go. No time to waste. 29,400 results in 0.18 seconds. There must be something to find!

Soon peeled and still no wine (Photo: P. Züllig)

The water on the cooker is already hot, the asparagus has to go into the pan. I still don't know which wine should accompany it on the table.

"Wine expert JP reveals the right wine to go with the asparagus". I read on almost greedily: "Caution! Not everything that calls itself an asparagus wine goes well with asparagus." Finally the redeeming word of an expert, not an advertiser. "Red wines are basically out of the question. They are too strong and have too much character of their own." A new low blow, an unauthorised knockout blow, so to speak. Red wine has too much character of its own? So what I have to look for is a "wine without character". There are many of these, and I quickly find one.

The asparagus has to come slowly from the pan to the table. Otherwise it becomes lame, overcooked. And the wine?

One last try, lured by the big, clear 36-point headline: "Which wine goes with asparagus?" I get hopeful! Then: "Water as a food companion lends itself to asparagus lovers... In any case, a mineral water that is not too carbonated goes better than fruit juices." A last glimmer of hope remains, the article ends like this: "Which wine to choose also depends, of course, on how the asparagus is prepared." Oh how new! But: "Those who like the vegetable hearty need not be too scrupulous in their choice of drink..." So without scruples, a red. "Asparagus is sometimes gratinated with cheese." Yes, that's what I do, and I reach for the wine rack: Château de Nouvelles, 2006, Cuvée Cantorel from Fitou, Languedoc. I don't have to think about it much longer, the asparagus is already on the table. All that's missing is the wine.

Finally% there is a red wine on the table (Photo: P. Züllig)

One last look at the expert advice: "With these strong flavour challenges for the subtle vegetable, you might as well order a beer."

We enjoyed the first asparagus of the year - and how. We drank the wine with it. Both got along, didn't rebel. Not even our taste buds were upset, they went along with it and were so happy to experience something unusual for once.


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