The Christmas season is over, and January brings us to the heart of winter. What’s the antidote to a cold winter’s night? A warm bowl of soup suitably paired with a glass of Greek wine, of course!
When considering accompanying soups with wine, we often end up rejecting the idea, mainly due to the watery texture of a soup. The answer is to stop treating the issue with such skepticism and realise that a glass of wine along with our soup course will help us maximize enjoyment during our winter dinners.
So, when opting for a wine to serve with our soup, we should consider the consistency and main flavours we are putting before our mouth cavity. The density of the soup is often more important than the type of protein in it when picking the right wine.
Therefore, let’s serve wine with our most popular soups and keep in mind a few simple rules of combination.
The main ingredient of meat soup is usually beef. In this case, the greasy texture of the meat dominates the aromas of fresh tomatoes and the rest of the included vegetables. Here a red wine with soft tannins should qualify as a choice. A fresh Agiorgitiko or a Merlot would ideally accompany our soup. Personally, I would go for a blend of 60% Agiorgitiko and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon from the “Barafakas” Estate in Nemea. The name of the label is “Xilia Xronia” which means “A Thousand Years.” It is a wine with an emphasis on red fresh fruits and sweet spices such as cinnamon. A really tasty wine. It will match wonderfully with a meat soup.
Fish soups, where seafood aromas emerge above those of vegetables, need medium-bodied, crisp white wines with good acidities, such as Assyrtiko, Sauvignon Blanc, or Moschofilero, to match the flavours of the soup. My recommendation, in this case, would be “Techni Alipias” from “Wine Art” Estate in Drama. A blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Assyrtiko. Sauvignon Blanc adds fruity aromas and acidity while the less aromatic Assyrtiko adds body, structure, complexity and ageing potential to the blend. In terms of taste (and sales) this is the most successful blend of white varieties in Greece. Excellent wine for this kind of soup.
The soup to fix all winter ailments, while delicious and comforting to the stomach at the same time, chicken soup or chicken noodle soup, calls for aromatic, textured whites with delicious natural acidity like Grüner Veltliner or Verdelho. From the domestic varieties, we would choose a Moschofilero. One of the top and most timeless expressions of the variety is the “Mantineia” of Tselepos Estate. A Moschofilero of high aromatic intensity where aromas of citrus fruits, as well as flowers, predominate. Its intense acidity “fuels” it with freshness and “nerve”. An ideal choice to accompany chicken soup.
As hearty fall and winter vegetables come into season, this is a classic winter soup, and my go-to pairing here is rosé wines. I love the “Lexis Gris Sur Lie Rose” from Zacharias Winery for its tart fruit, earthy tones and bright acidity. It’s refreshing and plays off the earthy tones in the soup.
Mushroom soup is the very definition of comfort food and comes in a couple of different versions. If we decide to get closer to the tinned classic ‘cream of mushroom’ soup, it’s better to stick to the creamy character of the dish and go for an oaked Chardonnay. “Roes Chardonnay” from Oinotropai Winery is quite rich on the palate, with medium to full body, crisp acidity, buttery sense, and impressive fruit aromas.
It will fit perfectly with our creamy soup. Darker soups that put woody, earthy forest mushrooms at the forefront of our tongue, are best complemented by Pinot Noirs and other dark red wines that are oak-aged and have subtle, earthy tones. Pinot Noir of Dio Filoi (Two Friends) Estate fills our glasses with bright red colour. It has aromas of nuts, dried fruits with spice notes and a velvet full mouth with a long, intense aftertaste. A complete expression of the Pinot Noir variety that will ideally match the aromas of our soup.
Winter is the peak season for pumpkin soup. The combination of its earthy and often sweet flavors makes this soup unique and tricky to pair with a glass of wine. Depending on the flavour profile (sweet, spicy, or both, paired or not with dense cream, garnish, etc.) some wines will do better than others. In general terms, the trick is to try to either compliment or contrast the flavours of that dish. So, think “dry” or “creamy” on the palate when it comes to wine. Here’s the place and time for an oaked chardonnay, a dry riesling, or a full-bodied Viognier. And Viognier by Domaine Gerovassiliou is perhaps the best expression of the French variety in Greece. Elegant and at the same time exuberant, it enchants anyone who tastes it! This wine features a deep lemon colour and complex aromas of apricot, butter, peach, chamomile, vanilla, brioche, bergamot, hazelnut, oak, tobacco, and white flowers. Rich mouth with full-body, discreet acidity, and intense oily sensation. Ideal wine for our dish.
Beef or Rabbit Stew
Finally, an iconic Greek winter dish. There are few meals more warming and savory than a hot bowl of beef stew. We could combine it with a bottle of Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon, which would wonderfully pair with it. Because stew is one of my favourite dishes, I would bypass the ground rules and recommend the “Black Daphne”, a dry Mavrodaphne of Papargyriou Estate. It has a complex bouquet of sour cherry, blackberry, and plum, accompanied by cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, and pepper. Afterward, it carries on the palate, with unimpaired intensity and complexity. Rich body, well-rounded, moderate tannins, and balanced acidity.
The deep, mellow flavours of the stew will meld with the soft richness of the wine, and both will improve the meal’s overall taste. Their combination reminds me of a reunion with old friends.
So, there you have it – everything you need to know about pairing wine with soups. While I’ve done my best to be as comprehensive as possible, I know that you all have your own preferences and ideas when it comes to such matches. As such, I’d love to hear all about your ideas in the comments below!
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