Hit & Miss: Kvaszinger 2013 Tokaji Aszú with Roast Pork with Caramelized Golden Apples & Parsnips & Crab, Corn & Avocado Puff Pastries

Wine: Kvaszinger 2013 Tokaji Aszú
Origin: Tokaj, Hungary

Taste: This pale gold sweet wine sparkles with topaz reflections. Though only 12% in alcohol, the wine is full-bodied thanks to its considerable residual sugar. Its richly honeyed, marzipan-laced flavors of golden raisins and spicy gingerbread morph in the glass into a spectacularly broad array of flavors. Though highly drinkable, the wine’s medium-plus – rather than scintillating – acidity is just a soft in the backbone. Rather than drinking this Tokaji Aszú on its own, as I often do, I’d like some food to balance out my glass. But as it is mouthcoating in texture, I’d prefer predominantly food rather than to layer on the sugar.

Expectation: We typically think of sweet wines with dessert, but sweet wines can work just as well with the beginning and the middle of a meal. Foods that have a natural sweetness to them should blend nicely with the wine, especially when there is caramelization (a combination of sugar and heat), Maillard reaction (a combination of amino acids, sugar and heat) or a crisp pastry or fried batter.

Hit: Roasted Pork with Caramelized Golden Apples and Parsnips
This recipe has both caramelization and Maillard reaction working in its favor. There’s also the sugar of the apples and the starch of the parsnips. As a counterpoint, there is the savoriness of roasted pork. (I used loin but a rack of lamb is also terrific and provides a more marked contrast with the sweetness.) The apples and parsnips were roasted with a combination of granulated and brown sugars that played up perfectly to the honey and sweet spice tones of the wine.

Near-Hit: Crab, Corn and Guacamole Puff Pastries
I would try this again, maybe using a little less guacamole and a little more puff pastry. I liked that the creaminess of the avocado matched the wine’s plump mouthfeel and that the wine’s sweetness took the edge off the guac’s spicy zip. However, crab, corn and avocado are all inherently sweet, and it needed a bit more puff pastry crunch to establish the right equilibrium.