Green Day

Posted on March 17, 2012


Chilled Asparagus With Grüner Veltliner photographed by Andrew McCaul

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I am not one to go all out on this holiday, but I thought I would share a great recipe that I found in Wine Spectator’s “A Perfect Match” section last spring. Chef Greg Short of Masa’s in San Francisco came up with a combination that has green in the food and wine; Chilled Asparagus With Grüner Veltliner. Grüner Veltliner is the wine that is known for going with all of the vegetables that are tricky to pair with wines. The recipe has a freshness of flavor that is heightened by the wine and eating it will make you excited for the warming of spring. It is refreshing enough that it can be enjoyed on already hot days as well.

Here is your list of ingredients:

2 bunches of green asparagus

3 pink grapefruit

1 bunch tarragon

½ cup crème fraïche, whipped

1 ounce extra-virgin olive oil


White Pepper

Snap the woody bases off of your asparagus, don’t cut, the asparagus knows where to break. The recipe says to peel the asparagus from just below the flowery tip to the base. I will leave that choice to you. Salt and rapidly boil a pot of water and blanch the asparagus for 4 minutes. Have a bath of ice water ready to stop the cooking process as soon as you pull the asparagus from the boiling water. Drain well and chill the asparagus.

After peeling your grapefruit, cut or peel the membrane from the segments of your grapefruit. I find that peeling works well for me and less of the fruit is lost. Chill the membrane free segments. Save one of your grapefruit for juicing and reduce the juice over low heat until you have a thick syrup. Chill.

Chop the tarragon leaves and set aside some whole leaf sections. Fold the chopped tarragon into the already whipped crème fraïche.

Toss the asparagus in your olive oil and season with the salt and pepper.

Place 4 or 5 stalks of asparagus on each plate and top with 3 or 4 grapefruit segments. Top the grapefruit with a dollop of the tarragon crème fraïche. Drizzle with the grapefruit syrup and a couple of tarragon leaves. Serve right away while it’s nice and cool with your chilled Grüner Veltliner.

Weingut Hirsch ‘veltliner #1’

When I first tried this recipe I made it for a large gathering and it was nice to see that even amongst a large group of people there was a focused satisfaction because of the pleasing impact of the flavors. We shared a 1L format bottle of Terry Thiese imported Berger Grüner Veltliner that Thiese refers to as “the silvery leafy side of GrüVe(Grüner Veltliner’s nickname), snap and brassica, sorrel and boxwood, bright and salty.” Another Grüner Veltliner that you might consider is a wine that Alice Feiring recommends in her “Wines You Might Like” list in the back of her book Naked Wine. Weingut Hirsch ‘veltliner #1’ is imported and distributed by Michael Skurnik Wines and is another hand selected wine from Terry Thiese’ portfolio. I enjoyed the wine information that the Skurnik website had to share: “CORE-LIST WINE. This wine is just way too good. Sensational aroma that almost mimics the riper fragrances of a Renner; oleander and vetiver; the palate is light, or light-ish, and creamy and very beautiful, elegant and serene, full of sweet grain and roasted corn, but it all swishes away with a feather-touch. Among the ‘everyday’ GrüVes, this is the classiest.”

Even if you don’t green your day with this match, I hope you will take the time to do so another day.