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German wine and Scandi food - natural born partners
Scandinavian food is becoming increasingly popular but what type of wine should you drink with it? Lucy Bridgers reports on how German wine fares.
With their clean, pure, precise flavours and geographical proximity, German wine and Scandinavian cuisine sounds like an obvious partnership, but until recently, one I hadn’t had the chance to try. That was until earlier this week when I was invited to do just that by Wines of Germany at their Scandinavian supperclub led by cook, food anthropologist and author Signe Johansen of Scandilicious.
We kicked off the evening with some tasty canapés: spiced Norwegian veal and lamb meatballs, mini toast Skagen topped with prawns, caviar and lemon mayonnaise and with goats cheese, pomegranate and vanilla salt. Two Mosel Rieslings and a Pfalz Pinot Noir were served with these: Dr Loosen Urziger Würzgarten Kabinett 2011, Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt Riesling Trocken 2011 and Palataia 2011.
The versatile Von Kesselstatt worked with all the canapés, especially the mini toasts and made a mouthwateringly fresh, zesty aperitif. The Urziger Würzgarten (‘Spice Garden’) was more fleshy, spicy and honeyed which chimed nicely with the sweetness of the prawns. The Palataia Pinot Noir selected to accompany the meatballs was a good match, but lacked the appetizing zip of the Rieslings at this stage of the meal.
The starter of cured salmon with wild dill pollen, Peter’s Yard sourdough crispbread, Scandinavian pickles and horseradish crème fraîche was served with Weingut Winter Riesling Trocken 2009 (Rheinhessen) and Balthasar Ress Hattenheimer Schutzenhaus Riesling Kabinett 2011 (Rheingau). The Rheinhessen, deeply coloured with lush peachy fruit, yet dry, stood up magnificently to the spicy horseradish and pickles and had enough weight on the palate to balance the richly textured sashimi-grade fish (the ABV was a full-strength 13%). In contrast, the lighter and more traditional Rheingau (10% ABV) was overwhelmed by the dish.
The main course, a wintery spread of braised finnbiff (Norwegian venison) with mushrooms and pearled spelt, salt-baked celeriac, beetroot salad with fruit vinegar and seasonal greens was served with two Pinot Noirs, Peter & Peter 2011 (Pfalz) from Zimmermann-Graeff & Muller and Meyer-Näkel Spätburgunder Blauschiefer 2010 (Ahr). Both showed well with the earthy flavours of the dish, but the complex, Burgundian Meyer-Näkel was a more memorable partner than the easy-drinking and juicy Peter & Peter.
After a refreshing palate cleanser of blood orange sorbet, we were served a two-part dessert of rhubarb and almond torte and freshly baked citrus and nutmeg madeleines with Studert Prüm’s Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese 2009 (Mosel) and Schloss Johannisberger Riesling Spätlese 2011 (Rheingau). Neither wine was obviously sweet, but they worked brilliantly with the desserts which were far from sugary themselves. The vibrant, almost tropical Schloss Johannisberger was a particular treat with the torte, its tingling acidity beautifully highlighting the rhubarb.
With such a range of styles now being produced in Germany – drier whites and an increasing proportion of reds – it was fascinating to experience their renewed versatility with food. (Historically in the UK German wines were more highly prized than French).
And, as expected, there is a great synergy between Scandinavian cuisine and German wine. It’s perhaps not surprising that Germany’s most important export markets include Sweden and especially Norway where they are market leaders.
Lucy Bridgers attended the event as guest of Wines of Germany
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