German Wines for German Lebkuchen – A Perfect Pairing
Our new friends over at Wines of Germany Canada suggested the perfect pairings for the German Christmas treats that Gingerbread World brings to Canada.
Lebkuchen and Marzipan are traditional German delicacies that are probably most often enjoyed with coffee or tea – as a dessert or sweeter snack at a break. But we’ve been seeing images on the web of Lebkuchen and Marzipan with wines. And given how much we love wine (and Lebkuchen and Marzipan) we thought we had to investigate. And who better to talk to about pairings for German foods than wine makers from Germany!
“What would the German Wine Princess pair with Lebkuchen? And with Marzipan? Of course these are good with coffee but we are thinking they would also be good with German wines!”
And the Wine Princess - Anna Hochdoerfer - responded:
“German wines are perfect to pair with food, so there are also some wines you can drink with Lebkuchen or Marzipan. I would recommend a Gewürztraminer which has a very spicy flavour and goes well with the Lebkuchen. Also a red wine like a Dornfelder or a Pinot would fit perfectly. Marzipan is very sweet so I would like a dry Riesling with it! I hope you like my suggestions and: Zum Wohl!”
So out to the Wine Shop I went to buy some bottles to try. But I was a little surprised by the small selection of German wines available. Although a few Gewürztraminers were available the drier, spicier one was sold out. So, being the wine connoisseur that I am…I picked the bottles with the best labels and went home to taste test.
And I was not disappointed! Although I so enjoy Lebkuchen or Marzipan with coffee (always an Americano) or tea (always Earl Grey!) I realized new tastes in the cookies and confections when I paired them with the wines.
Lebkuchen is a traditional German cookie enjoyed at Christmas. Recipes have been handed down for centuries since first created in the 1300’s. The soft, gingerbread-like pastry is made with Hazelnuts, Walnuts, Almonds, Candied Orange and Lemon Peel, Honey, Flour, Sugar, Eggs and Marzipan. Added to these are some exotic spices from all around the world: cinnamon, cloves, anise, cardamom, coriander, ginger and mace.
Marzipan is made of almonds – ground and then roasted and combined with sugar and rose water, The recipe originated in the Middle East but over the centuries has become a German institution. Marzipan is often shaped into loaves and smothered in German chocolate. Flavors may be added to the Marzipan such as orange or pineapple or even liqueur flavorings.
So both Lebkuchen and Marzipan are natural pairings for wine.
I tend to enjoy dry and less sweet wines and I actually tend toward red wines (currently enjoying a lot of Malbecs). So it was good to try something totally different – white wines and slightly sweeter wines - and to learn a little more about them.
Wines of Germany suggests that when paired with sweeter foods a sweet wine will lose some of its sweetness but maintain its texture while a dry wine will lose its fruit and become sharp, focused on acidity and alcohol. A sweet wine will taste drier when combined with a dish containing sweetness. Gewürztraminer and Riesling both fit the bill.
Gewürztraminer is a type of grape – just like Merlot or Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc. But where you can find a zillion options of those other wines in stores ranging from a few bucks to very expensive, Gewürztraminers are harder to find because less of that type of grape are grown. So it’s a little more rare, its sweeter and it works well with spicy foods – and Lebkuchen, with its array of spices, falls nicely into that category.
Riesling is a grape most well suited to Germany's cooler climate (cooler thn most grape growing regions). German Wines of Canada puts it this way: "To reach its full potential, Riesling needs extra days of sun; ripening is very late, usually not until the latter half of October. Riesling produces elegant wines of rich character with an incomparable fragrance and taste, often reminiscent of peaches, or when young, apples." There seemed to be more options of Rieslings available in the Wine Shop - so I bought 2!
I can't wait to try the various types of Lebkuchen and Marzipan with my new wines. Now we just have to wait for the fresh pastries and confections to arrive in Canada from Germany in late October. Then we can crack open our beautiful white boxes of Lebkuchen Schmidt and colorful packages of Niederegger Marzipan at the same time as we crack open our bottles of Gewürztraminer and Riesling.