During winter or on any rainy day, nothing warms the soul more than a savory soup. But which soups pair best with cabernet sauvignon, the king of red wines? Traditionally, soup is considered difficult to pair with wine due to texture and temperature, but there are always exceptions to the rules–and tips for finding the perfect wine and soup pairing that suits your palate. Because many soups are delicate in flavor, you need a wine pairing that acts as supporting actor and not the star of the table. That means cabernets with higher acidity, lower alcohol and softer tannins tend to be more versatile with different soups than the powerhouse styles.
Try these tweaks to three classic recipes to make your soup sing with a glass of balanced, silky cabernet.
This recipe’s unctuous broth has the body and depth to pair with elegant cabernet sauvignons (lower in alcohol and tannin), and we’re partial to how its Asian spices interact with the dark fruit flavors in the young 2012 Jordan. Charring the scallions and onion on the grill also enhances the food pairing with cabernet, as the alliums’ smokiness complements the subtle barrel toasting nuances in the wine. View the recipe >>
Cabernet lovers can create a harmonious food and wine pairing with a few modifications to a traditional butternut squash soup recipe. Substitute black pepper for sugar, remove the mascarpone cream and add sage to complement the wine’s natural herbaceous notes. Be mindful of the sweetness in the vegetables, as the sugar can overpower the essential fruit flavors in the wine. Carefully counter-balance that sweetness with acidity by adding sherry vinegar to taste. Garnish with black walnuts to highlight the fruit and tannins in a younger cabernet. For a decadent touch, a quenelle of pork rillettes can be added before serving. A young Bordeaux or Bordeaux-like California Cabernet should work best in this pairing, such as the 2011 Jordan. View the recipe >>
For those who love aged cabernet with more than ten years in the bottle, simply substitute shallot for the sweet Maui onion in this classic soup. (Maui onions work better with chardonnay, contrasting the vegetable’s sweetness and the white wine’s acidity.) Follow the same seasoning and sautéing instructions for the shallots, but deglaze with a young cabernet instead of chardonnay and deglaze the pan early—before the sugars have completely caramelized. This further tames the sweetness of the soup, which can make a red wine taste tart or bitter. A rich stock with beef bones and/or beef stock instead of chicken better aligns with the silky body of an older cabernet like the 2002 Jordan. Using marjoram instead of parsley also complements the aromatic profile of the wine. Long-roasted savory vegetables can also be added to the soup, but avoid carrots due to sweetness. View the recipe >>
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