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The best food pairings for dry Furmint

All countries like to boast that their signature grape variety goes with practically everything but in the case of Hungary’s furmint it’s true.

With "the aromatics of sauvignon blanc, the rich mouthfeel of chardonnay and the vibrant acidity of riesling” as my colleague Tim Atkin neatly puts it it really is a take-me-anywhere wine.

Hungary of course has a great gastronomic tradition of its own so you could obviously drink it with everything from foie gras which is hugely popular in the country to chicken paprikash.

But its rare combination of lushness and searing acidity makes it an incredibly good partner for the dishes that involve sweet and savoury elements that you often find in Asian cuisines and in Moroccan tagines. I reckon it would work with many Chinese, Korean, Burmese and Thai recipes that mingle hot, sour and sweet.

And at a recent online tasting, sommelier Isa Bal and Jonny Lake of Trivet played around with Japanese tastes and flavours using miso, sesame and kombu (seaweed) in their presentation.

I confess I’m still in the process of learning about this rather miraculous variety which you also find in Austria and Slovakia but some avenues you might want to explore are:

With fresh unoaked young furmints

Like other crisp white wines it would go with simply cooked fish and shellfish especially crab and prawns.

Smoked and cured fish like this beetroot cured salmon with horseradish I wrote about a while ago

Chicken with a creamy or herby sauce such as this Pot roast chicken with herby crème fraîche from Olia Hercules.

Sushi and tempura (Isa Bal suggested tempura of red mullet and sea vegetables (kombu) with a sweet and sour dip)

Salads and vegetable dishes that include citrus, especially orange

Lightly pickled vegetables

White asparagus

Goats' or young sheep cheeses

You could also take a look at these pairings with Chablis which should work with lighter styles of furmint too.

With richer styles with oak or a few years maturity

Chicken or duck liver parfait (Ronan Sayburn and Marcus Verberne of 67 Pall Mall pair it with a chicken liver parfait with an orchard fruit compote of quince, pear, peach and apple in their book Wine and Food.

Seared scallops

Grilled or roast lobster

Roast goose

Duck à l’orange

Roast celeriac

Pork belly

Moroccan tagines

Aged Comté or Gruyère

Umami-rich Japanese or Japanese-influenced dishes (see above)

Off-dry styles which would still classify as dry rather than sweet should work with milder curries and, according to Hungarian wine expert Caroline Gilby, with chicken katsu! (In his book Tastebuds and Molecules Francois Chartier identifies a compound called sotolon which is present in curry powder and fenugreek and also in sweet wines such as Tokaji Aszú, Hungary’s famous sweet wine.

For more on late harvest furmints see The best food pairings for Tokai Aszu.

The wines shown above were provided as press samples by Wines of Hungary

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Comments: 1 (Add)

Caroline Duncan on February 18 2021 at 14:23

Do you think an unoaked Furmint would go well with a cheese soufflé? Thinking of something a bit different to Chablis. My other option is a Pinot Blanc.

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