Every bottle has a story

I am not a wine expert, but with each bottle I try and share with friends, I learn more. Wine is an exceptional social drink; it is the marijuana of alcoholic beverages because it must be shared. I seek to share with you my thoughts and experiences as I drink the wine in my closet, as well as my enthusiasm for the finds that come my way and the excellent values that I find. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences too, so please share!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A soup fit for a great pumpkin

The aperitif planned for my Halloween-eve lamb dinner was a curried pumpkin soup I had made in the past. Given the spiciness, I thought a semi-sweet wine like a Riesling or Gewurztraminer would work, but I wasn’t sure which one or what particular wine to buy. I’m not very familiar with either varietal. So off to the wine store I went and I asked one of the fellows there what would be a good choice. I was standing in the German aisle as he suggested that a Gewurztraminer would work better with the spicy pumpkin soup, but was I set on a German wine? Would I consider an Alsace wine? Yes, why not? While my experience with German Rieslings is limited, I have no experience with wines from the French region of Alsace. I was intrigued.

What he showed me was the 2008 Weinbach Reserve Personnelle. The store clerk told me that the wine was drier than what I might normally associate with a Gewurztraminer, but would still have the peach and tangerine flavors that would go well with the soup. Plus, he said the wine had its own spiciness that would complement the curry in the soup, a sort of spice-on-spice play that should work excellently.

His recommendation was spot on. Pairing the Gewurztraminer, with its smooth fruit and spicy texture, with the curried pumpkin soup, which had its own spice kick as well as some apples blended into the mixture, allowed each item to fully express itself without dominating the other.

Wine Spectator rates this with an 89, saying that it can be cellared for another four years. It's pegged to retail at about $29, but I picked this one up for a bit less.

I rate this with a 9 on my 10-point scale at the left.

Here’s the recipe for the curried pumpkin soup, which I found in the 1996 edition of Better Homes and Gardens Annual Recipes.

This soup can be served in a pumpkin. However, the small pumpkins I had selected for serving the soup were cooked too long and became soft, so it was served in bowls.

Take one large can of plain pumpkin and mix together with 32 ounces of chicken broth in a large saucepan or crock pot. The recipe calls for a lot more broth, but you can start with 32 ounces and add more if you want to. Stir together and begin to heat over medium. As this begins to heat up, peel and core two baking-type apples. Chop into bits and add to soup. Follow this with one medium to large carrot, chopped up as well, 2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger root, a half-teaspoon of cumin, and 1-2 teaspoons of curry powder. Heat all this, stirring occasionally, until it begins to bubble, then simmer until the carrot and apple is cooked.

Let the soup cool for a while. Next, transfer about 3 to 4 cups of soup to a blender and blend until smooth. Repeat until all the soup has been blended and returned to the pan. Reheat the soup. While reheating, fry two strips of bacon (I prefer thick cut) until crispy. Remove and in the remaining drippings (you can pour some off if there is too much), sautee about a quarter-cup of chopped onion in the drippings with two tablespoons of sugar. Crumble the bacon and stir it into the onion.

Serve the soup and sprinkle with the bacon and onion on top. You can also add croutons to the bacon and onion while they’re in the pan.

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