Many great dinner parties start with soup. You can find many fantastic soup recipes from all over the world, and of course, a matching wine pairing. However, it’s not easy to find the right wine with soup pairing. In this article, we will discuss the best options.
Wine and Soup Pairing Rules
Soups are very versatile. They can be thin and watery or thick and creamy, contain meat, fish, or vegetables, and feature all kinds of flavors. In many cases, pairing wine and soup is challenging. To avoid overpowering your meal with your wine (or vice versa), follow these general rules:
- Pair your soup with a light- to medium-bodied wine. The thicker the soup is, the more body the wine can have. However, full-bodied wines with high alcohol levels usually don’t work with soup.
- The same is true for high-tannin wines. They are too powerful to pair them with soups. Thus, look out for low-tannin wines.
- Dry wines are usually the right choice, but occasionally, off-dry wines can work. Stay away from sweet wines, though.
- Try regional pairings: French wine with French soup recipes, Italian wines with Italian soups, and so on.
Of course, there are some exceptions to these rules. In the following paragraphs, we’ll highlight some of them while discussing the best wine and soup pairings.
Wine with Consommé
Consommé is a clear soup that might appear very basic and dull at first sight. Its appearance is deceptive, though. Making a good consommé requires numerous ingredients and a lot of time. Among these ingredients are carrots, onions, celery, garlic, parsley, bay leaf, and meat. The most common variations call for either beef or chicken. All these ingredients simmer in water for about two hours. Then, the chef filters the solids out, further reduces, and finally refrigerates the liquid. As a result of the cold temperatures, a layer of fat forms at the surface, which the chef removes. By adding egg whites and boiling the soup, it is clarified again. At this point, the Consommé is ready for serving. But chefs might use it as the base for a more sophisticated light soup.
In most cases, Consommé comes as a starter course. It’s served either purely or with a garnish of vegetables, herbs, or noodles. In any case, it’s a thin yet flavorful soup. While the meat flavors dominate, you might also sense its herbal notes.
For Consommé, dry fortified wine is a great pairing. Their high alcohol levels and acidity create a fascinating contrast to the soup’s texture. Try a Spanish Sherry or a Portuguese Madeira wine. Make sure to pick dry styles; the sweet variations aren’t proper pairings for Consommé.
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If you prefer a less strong wine, go for a Dolcetto wine from Italy or a Beaujolais from France. These reds add bright fruit flavors to the culinary experience. As they are light- to medium-bodied and have only a low level of tannins, they won’t overpower the meal, though.
Wine with Minestrone
One of the soups you can make from Consommé is Minestrone. It comes from Italy, where it’s typically served as a starter course. Chefs use all kinds of seasonal vegetables to make Minestrone, for example, onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, tomatoes, or beans. Depending on the Italian region, they might add noodles or rice and bacon in some cases. All ingredients are seared and then simmered in the Consommé for about 30 minutes. The soup is seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic, and various herbs like bay leaf, thyme, or fennel.
The numerous ingredients make Minestrone a much richer soup than pure Consommé. Its flavor can include fruity, earthy, herbal, spicy, and meaty notes, depending on the exact recipe.
Without a doubt, Italian soup should go with Italian wine. Chianto Classico is the best match for Minestrone. This red classic from Tuscany offers bright acidity that is needed to stand up to the rich soup. And its aromas of red and black fruits, as well as its earthy notes, complement Minestrone’s flavor profile superbly.
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White wine lovers can turn to a Chardonnay instead. Again, the Tuscany region has good wines to offer. They have the right body and acidity level so that the soup won’t overpower them.
Wine with Bouillabaisse
A famous fish soup from France is Bouillabaisse. It’s made from various types of seafood, vegetables, and herbs. First, the vegetables such as onions, tomatoes, fennel, and carrots are steamed and seasoned with salt, pepper, thyme, bay laurel, and parsley. After deglazing the vegetables with white wine or vermouth, the seafood is added and covered with fish bouillon. French chefs use multiple sorts of fish, including sea robin, red mullet, monkfish, sea bass, and eel, but also shellfish like shrimps, crawfish, or mussels.
Bouillabaisse has a typical Mediterranean flavor: It deliciously combines fruity tomato aromas with many different herbal notes and lean fish. Although it is rich and complex in taste, the soup is not too heavy, and thus it often comes as a starter course. Traditionally, the French eat bread and spicy garlic mayonnaise with it.
A great wine to pair with Bouillabaisse is Sauvignon Blanc. It needs a decent level of acidity to complement the fish. It shouldn’t be too bold, though; otherwise, it might overwhelm the meal. So pick a rather light-bodied wine, and stay away from oaked wines. As it’s always a good idea to look for a regional match, you should try a wine from the Provence region, for instance, from the Coteaux d’Aix appellation. If you are into rosé wines, check out the pink wines from the same area.
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Wine with French Onion Soup
Another popular dish from the country of wine and cheese is French Onion Soup. The history of this simple yet delicious meal goes back to the 15th century when it was considered a meal for poor people.
As the name suggests, the main ingredient for this soup is onions. They are sliced and caramelized with butter until they are golden-colored. Then, the chef adds beef broth, water, and white wine and seasons the soup with salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaf. After cooking the soup, the chef fills it into cups, adds toasted bread cubes, sprinkles it with cheese, and gratinates it.
The result is a rich, savory soup. It has a subtle meaty taste from the beef broth, a hint of sweetness from the onions, and some crunch and saltiness from the gratinated cheese.
To match this savory meal, you need a medium- to full-bodied wine. On the white side, you can pick a dry Viognier. It has just the right mix of body and acidity. Its aromas of citrus and tropical fruits help the onions’ sweetness shine. Alternatively, enjoy your French Onion Soup with an off-dry Gewürztraminer. It features similar aromas but is a bit sweeter than Viognier.
On the red side, you can find another delicious pairing: Sangiovese. Especially Italian Sangiovese wines, including Chianti, are fantastic matches. Their acidity can cut through the chewy cheese, and the tannins are good counterplayers for the meaty soup aromas.
Wine with Creamy Vegetable Soup
Creamy vegetable soups are delicious meals for cold winter nights. You can find hundreds of variations made from all kinds of vegetables. In particular, mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, carrots, and potatoes are popular ingredients for these creamy soups. Most variations start as broth and get their creaminess by adding milk, coconut milk, flour, cream, or cheese.
Typically, creamy vegetable soups are hearty and rustic but not too fatty. With their chewy texture, they are excellent matches for rich white wines. Especially those that spent a little time in oak barrels and developed subtle nutty flavors pair fantastically with creamy soups. Many white Burgundy wines, for instance from the Côte de Beaune appellation, belong to this category. Their zesty acidity works perfectly with the soup’s chewy texture. Another option is white Bordeaux.
Darker mushroom cream soups are also delicious with red wines. Enjoy them with an Old World Pinot Noir. French styles tend to feature subtle earthy and floral notes that complement a hearty mushroom soup perfectly. Pay special attention to wines from Burgundy.
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Wine with Gazpacho
After talking a lot about French and Italian dishes, let’s discuss the most famous Spanish soup now: Gazpacho. It comes from Andalusia, Spain’s most southern region. The essential ingredient for Gazpacho is tomatoes. They are blended with cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, garlic, vinegar, and water and seasoned with salt, pepper, and cumin. As the Spanish enjoy this soup cold, it spends some time in the fridge before serving. Typically, it comes with toasted bread cubes and a basil garnish.
Logically, the main flavor in Gazpacho is the fruity aroma of tomatoes. Besides, you can clearly sense the onions’ and peppers’ spiciness and the vinegar’s acidity. The bread adds some crunch to the thick soup.
Finding the right wine to enjoy with Gazpacho isn’t easy. On the one hand, it can’t be too bold, so it doesn’t overpower the vegetable aromas. But on the other hand, it must have the ability to handle the soup’s zesty acidity. Try a Tempranillo Rosado from the Rioja region. These rosé wines are medium-bodied with an outstanding balance of acidity, fruity, and floral flavors that matches the soup deliciously.
If you make your Gazpacho with many green vegetables, you can also try a white wine from the Rueda appellation. These Verdejo-based blends are full of citrus and tropical fruit aromas and have a good level of acidity.
Vichyssoise and Wine
Another soup that gourmets typically enjoy cold is Vichyssoise. Unlike Gazpacho, the preparation of this French dish requires heat. Potatoes, leek, and onions sauté for a short while in garlic oil and simmer in chicken broth afterward. After adding cream and seasoning the mix with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and various herbs, the chef purees it. Then, the soup cools down in the fridge and is finally served with a chive garnish and toasted bread.
Vichyssoise is the perfect meal for a hot summer day. Although it’s slightly thicker and more savior than Gazpacho, it’s not too heavy. With its subtle herbal, salty, and spicy notes, it provides a unique culinary experience.
A classic pairing for Vichyssoise is Chardonnay. It shouldn’t be too savory, so choose an unoaked wine, for instance, from the regions Mâcon Villages or Pouilly-Fuissé. Other options are white Rhônes wines or dry French Rieslings. For red wine lovers, Beaujolais is an excellent alternative. With low levels of tannins and alcohol, it won’t overwhelm the soup but add exciting fruity and floral notes.
Wine and soup might not sound like the most obvious food and drink pairing. But when done right, having wine with soup is fantastic. In this article, you have learned about the most famous matches and some guidelines that will help you create your own. Enjoy!