Story by Manos Angelakis
Wines for Foie Gras
The question came up recently, what wine does one drink with rich dishes, such as foie gras? The immediate answer was “Sauternes of course!”. This is a rich-on-rich match guaranteed to overload the taste buds.
I think we have a much better answer. How about a Trockenbeerenauslese or even better an Eiswein from Germany?
The Trockenbeerenauslese is a sweet wine made from shriveled-on-the-vine grapes, most times affected by botrytis (also known as noble rot) the same way that a French Sauternes is produced. The German producers create sweet wines with much more acidity and citric flavors than the French because of their use of mostly late ripening, aromatic grape varieties such as Riesling, Silvaner, Gewürztraminer, Müller-Thurgau or Auxerrois Blanc; the wine’s acidity helps in cutting through the unctuousness of foie gras.
Icewine (Eiswein) is created when grapes have been allowed to freeze on the vine (the official temperature is -8° C). It is a relatively rare wine, sold mostly in half bottles (375 ml) and is produced in climates where an early frost can be expected in November or December; and that includes both Germany and Canada. I think that the German variety is much superior and many of the outstanding vineyards in Saar and the Mosel deliver concentrated flavors of peaches and apricots with a spicy minerality. Most of the famous Mosel Riesling vintners produce eiswein, but because of global warming the winter temperatures do not always get below -8°. I have had remarkable ice wines from Dr. H. Thanisch Erben Müller-Burggraef, Weingut Dr. Pauly-Bergweiler, Weingut Selbac-Oster and a few other outstanding producers located near the Bernkasteler wine hub. Another producer making an outstanding Eiswein from Riesling grapes with apricot and orange-zest aromas and lemon, caramel and spices en bouche, is St. Urbans-Hof Ockfenner Bockstein. Whenever you can find eiswein from any good German vintner, grab it. It will be well worth the price, even though the prices have considerably risen since the last 2016 harvest.
Foie gras can be baked, poached, or made into a pâté or mousse. But the best way is to either grill it over an aromatic hardwood fire or sauté slices until they are seared outside and barely pink in the center.
Then get yourself a glass of Eiswein or a Trockenbeerenauslese and get ready for a taste that’s an epicurean dream.
A vôtre santé!
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