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.
• 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).
• 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.