Wine to go with asparagus | Alistair Gibson

If you’re reading this on April 23, it’s St George’s Day, one of my favourite days of the year.But it’s not for that reason, or that it’s the day we celebrate Shakespeare’s birth, that I love this day, it’s all about asparagus.

By Alistair Gibson
Saturday, 23rd April 2022, 1:50 pm
Updated Saturday, 23rd April 2022, 1:59 pm
Journey's End Spekboom sauvignon blanc 2021.
Journey's End Spekboom sauvignon blanc 2021.

Although you may have been able to buy British asparagus for a few weeks, April 23 is the official start of the UK’s asparagus season. It’s a ‘superhero’ vegetable and one of the great examples of why seasonal produce is so wonderful. But what to drink with it? That is the question.

There is a belief that it’s one of the more difficult ingredients to match wine with. However, much depends on how and with what you serve your asparagus. Generally speaking sauvignon blanc works well as do crisp, fresh dry whites or even rosé. In the main, oak-aged whites are to be avoided, but there are exceptions.

A good all-rounder with asparagus is Journey’s End ‘Spekboom’ Sauvignon Blanc 2021, Western Cape (Sainsburys £10). This takes its name from Spekboom, the elephant bush which absorbs CO2 at a higher rate than any other plant, which Journey’s End has planted near its vineyards to produce wines as sustainably as possible. There’s a bouquet of ripe soft fruits and freshly peeled citrus zest. The palate has a long, mouthwatering finish. This will appeal to lovers of New Zealand sauvignon blanc. Try with streamed or boiled asparagus and melted butter.

Familia Torres Celeste Verdejo 2019, Rueda (winedirect.co.uk £10.95) is a modern style of Spanish white, made from the verdejo grape in Rueda. Produced by the Torres family, this has verdejo’s distinctive notes of fennel on the nose with dried herbs and citrus, followed by a nicely textured palate with citrus fruits and pineapple followed by a crisp, dry finish. Try with grilled or barbecued asparagus served with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and parmesan shavings.

Cune Barrel Fermented Blanco 2019, Rioja (Waitrose £9.99, Majestic £10.99 but £8.99 if part of a mixed six) is a versatile food-friendly white that goes well with asparagus served with eggs or an asparagus risotto. Made from the viura grape and fermented in new American oak barrels, the bouquet offers tropical fruits, preserved lemons and vanilla in the background. The palate has some richness, more preserved lemon, some spice and a long, creamy finish. This over-delivers at this price and straddles traditional and modern style white Rioja. Delicious with richer asparagus dishes.