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How to Pair Wine with Soup

How to Pair Wine with Soup

Soup isn’t just a way station between an amuse bouche and the main dish—it can be a feast unto itself.

“Soup is one of those foods that appears simple and humble but has a lot of complexity in aromas, flavors and textures,” says Jordanne Pascual-Cancel, head sommelier of New York City’s Principe. “It’s very similar to wine in that way.”

Long story short: Soup is deserving of a wine pairing treatment to echo and enhance its complexity. But, like any food category, not every wine can match the needs of every soup.

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“In my experience, a soup needs to meet a few specific parameters for a wine pairing to work,” says Alex Ring, wine director for Chicago’s Sepia. “Broth and consommé-based soups are more challenging to pair, as you’re simply mixing liquids with liquids, and most broth-based soups are pretty acid-neutral, too, which can make a wine seem even more acidic,” he says. “Creamy, purée-based soups are easier to pair, as the texture of the soup contrasts that of the wine. Throw in even more textural elements, like something creamy or crunchy, and it opens up even more pairing possibilities.”

This is why we tapped wine pros to show us the way. From classic French onion and wild mushroom to curry-scented pumpkin, spicy noodle and fruit-filled gazpacho, consider this your guide to finding the ideal soup–and-wine pairing.

This recipe for French onion soup doubles down on its already complex, sweet and savory tones with a dose of Sherry vinegar and soy sauce, further amplifying its umami character. A unique wine is needed to match its myriad dimensions.

“Several French wines pair beautifully with French onion soup, but personally I would seek out a dry Italian Lambrusco,” says Bernadette James, sommelier of Stages at One Washington in Dover, New Hampshire. “The fruity and earthy flavors will complement the onions, the tannins will cut the richness of the cheese and, as it’s served chilled, the temperature juxtaposition will be very fascinating for your palate.”

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

Cultivated just about anywhere vitis vinifera is grown, Grenache is a versatile red grape whose herbaceous undertones make it an excellent pairing for multiple soups, but is especially apropos when tomato is on the menu.

“Full-bodied yet not overly structured reds that strike a balance of fruit and herb aromas, like Grenache, complement the savoriness of the tomato and red pepper, but also bring out the nuanced flavors of the Thai basil and thyme,” says Pascual-Cancel, of this particularly flavorful recipe.

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

NSO By Dusty Nabor 2021 Grenache (Sta. Rita Hills)

This label by Dusty Nabor is almost always a solid buy on the quality-for-price ratio. This bottling begins with cherry, rose extract, wild mint and earthy chaparral aromas on the nose. The palate’s chalky tannins reveal tightly wound strawberry, pepper and toasted herb flavors that show a touch more warmth on the finish. Best Buy. 93 Points— M. K.


Mark Bowman, sommelier at Hilton Head Island’s Sea Pines Resort recommends Chablis to pair with a cold soup that emphasizes the essence of raw corn.

“Corn has a natural, creamy sweetness, and Chardonnay, as a thicker-skinned grape, tends to have at least a touch of that creaminess,” he says. “The key here is that an unoaked Chardonnay such as Chablis will still maintain some of its natural acidity, which is vital to enliven the verve of a raw corn soup.”

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

Gabrielle 2021 Chablis

An abundance of wild flowers embrace aromas of fresh lemon, lime and lemongrass. The palate is round with freshly cut pears, citrus peel, ginger spice, wet stones and salt. Focused and layered, this wine should pair well with fresh prawns and lobster. 91 Points — A. C.

Total Wine & Spirits

Albert Bichot 2021 Chablis

Intense on the nose, this wine exudes intense overripe citrus notes completed by crushed seashells. On the palate its crisp acidity reinvigorates and should appeal to those who relish a mineral-driven experience. Enjoy as an aperitif. 92 Points — A. C.

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The Best Wine for Curried Pumpkin Soup: Sparkling Chenin Blanc

A richly textured soup with warm spices calls for something similarly textured and toasty.

“I like pairing sparkling Chenin Blanc with this,” says Ring. “The toasty, spicy notes pair well with the mellow curry, and Chenin Blanc also tends to have a honeyed character, which I think is right at home with winter flavors like pumpkin,” he says. “The bright acidity of the wine cuts through the richness of the cream and texture of the purée, and the bubbles add even more textural interest.”

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

The Best Wine for Spicy Noodle Soup: Grüner Veltliner

Often called upon to pair with vegetables due its unique, white pepper character, Austria’s zippy Grüner Veltliner can also uphold complex elements such as miso and gochujang.

Second to a pour of Korean soju, “I think Grüner Veltliner pairs really well with Asian spices, especially gochujang,” says Steve Kim, sommelier at The Bazaar by José Andrés. “Bright, fruity Grüner has a way of contrasting the spiciness and easing it down, and its acidity can brighten up the soup more, too.”

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Earthy and savory, yes, but given the en croute treatment here, this wild mushroom soup also boasts an added layer of buttery decadence.

Sadie Farrington, sommelier at The National in Telluride, Colorado, therefore recommends a well-known friend to butter: white Burgundy. “The wine adds some nice acid to the dish while also supporting the buttery texture of the soup,” she says.

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Cumin, turmeric and paprika add a serious dimension to this already hearty, slightly smoky lentil soup.

Sean Olnowich, culinary director for New York’s Ketchy Shuby, recommends Sangiovese, a medium-bodied red whose character can often also be described as hearty and smoky. Additionally, “the fruit-forward notes and acidity of Sangiovese both contrast and complement the depth and earthiness of the soup,” he says.

Wine Enthusiast recommends:

The Best Wine for Papaya Gazpacho: Côtes de Gascogne

A white wine-dominant region in southwest France, Côtes de Gascogne produces fruit-forward wines that are perfect for this bright, fruit-forward soup.

Jade Palmer, wine manager at Krog Street Market’s Hop City Craft Beer and Wine in Atlanta, suggests that a Côtes de Gascogne blend of Gros Manseng and Colombard more than meets this gazpacho variation halfway: “It has really juicy stone fruit leaning into that tropical fruit,” she says, “and you still get a little bit of lively acidity with it, too.”

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