Wine and Soup: Easy Pairing Tips

February is Soup Month at The Kitchn, so I thought that I would look at some great soup and wine combinations. Traditionally, soup has been considered a difficult course to pair with wine. The reason for this is texture. Pairing liquid with liquid simply did not seem like an appealing combination. Well, as we all know, there is soup and there is soup.

So don't let incumbent ideas about food pairing stop you from enjoying a glass of wine with your next soup dish. Here are some tips, ideas, and a gallery of delicious wine pairings for eight of the soups we've featured this month.

The first thing to consider is contrast. Often contrast offers the best compliment. You may remember my post on Sherry last July. In that I mentioned Sherry's long-standing affinity with soup, especially with clear, smooth, creamy soups. Sherry is a fortified wine and so solves the texture problem. Its higher alcohol provides a contrast to the smooth soup. Fino, Dry Olorossa or Amontillado styles work best unless your soup is sweet or fruity, in which case you can try a sweet or cream style sherry.

Creativity and experimentation (or maybe just plain trial and error) have taught us that we don't have to stick to fortified wines with soup. Soup means many different things to different people. It can be a light chicken consommé, a heart beef stew, and everything in between. So in choosing a wine it all depends, not just on the texture of the soup but also on its core and flavor building ingredients.

Tomato based soups are high in acid. A red wine with not too much tannin works well. Cream soups are soft and rich. You need high acid wines to cut through the richness, white, unless it is a tomato cream soup. So many soups contain protein in the form of pulses, meat or fish. Plus, soups are not necessarily always pureed smooth, offering us yummy chunks of meat or vegetables. So you see, it all depends.

Here are a few suggestions for some of The Kitchn's favorite soup posts. What do you think?

Tomato Soup with Toasted Cheese Croutons - here I would go for a lighter red wine with not too much tannin such as a Grenache, Gamay or Barbera d'Alba (like the 2006 La Loggia Barbera d'Alba, Italy - $6.99 from Trader Joe's we recommend) or even a white Viognier.

Mexican Zucchini Soup - Avoid high tannin if opting for a red, as it will exacerbate the spice. Try a Zinfandel or soft Merlot. Alternatively, in whites an Albariño (like the Martín Códax Albariño 2006, $15) or Gewürztraminer will complement the heat.

Italian Escarole Soup - A simple Chianti can work well, complimenting the bold escarole flavor. A Californian Chardonnay (like this Sonoma Chardonnay from C. Donatiella) is another option.

Kale and Apple Soup - You need good acidity but subtle flavors, so as not to overpower the soup. Try an Italian Soave or French Chenin Blanc (like this moderate splurge) from the Loire.

Pumpkin Tortilla Soup - The spices and richness of the pumpkin call for a Gewürztraminer, Alsace or Oregon Pinot Gris or off-dry Riesling (like this off-dry Heribert Boch Trittenheimer Apotheke Riesling QmP Kabinett, $16).

Spinach and Lemon Soup with Orzo - A good Pinot Grigio would work well here (like the inexpensive Pinots here, including the 2006 Santa Margherita) or Sauvignon Blanc.

Nettle Soup - I would go with a bold high acid white such as Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Spanish Verdejo (like this amazingly well-priced 2007 Ermita Veracruz, DO Rueda $10) or Albariño.

Quick Onion Soup - Tradition works best here and I would suggest a Beaujolais, or Cotes du Rhone (like that very inexpensive Goats Do Roam from Trader Joe's). Or for white try a Marsanne or Marsanne/Rousanne blend.

I'd love to hear what your favorite soup and wine pairings are. So until next week, stay well with some warming soups and experiment with different wines.

Related: Food and Wine Pairing: A Grilled Summer Menu of Herbed Pork, Tender Ravioli, and Garden Greens

(Image credits: Tomato soup: Flickr member romanlily licensed for use under Creative Commons)

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Mary Gorman-McAdams, MW (Master of Wine), is a New York based wine educator, freelance writer and consultant. In 2012 she was honored as a Dame Chevalier de L'Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne.