Sauerkraut: impossible food-wine pairing?!?

schupfnudeln I finally got around to reading the food issue (Nov 22) of the New Yorker, and was amazed to find not one but two–two!–articles extolling the gustatory and health virtues of sauerkraut (sauerkraut!). In one brief piece, David Bezmozgis describes the making of this pickled cabbage as “part wrestling match, part science experiment.” That’s because after dumping the sliced cabbage in a large container, adding salt (about two tablespoons per head), the cabbage must be mashed or kneaded until it releases its juice, then kept submerged as fermentation occurs. The other, much longer article profiled Sandor Katz and his wild fermentations that transform, among other things, cabbage into kraut, rich in vitamins and isothiocyanates.

But does it taste any good? I went to my local farmers’ market and bought a pint from a vendor. I also bought a loaf of organic bread from the excellent baker Wave Hill, and some microgreens. At home, I spread Dijon mustard on a slice, added some cheddar, heaped on the kraut, cherry tomatoes, and greens to make a sort of a cold, vegetarian, full-of-flavor, crunchy, tart riff on the reuben. Next up I will have to try Schupfnudeln, a regional dish (with an odd name) from southwestern Germany that amounts to homemade gnocchi fried up with bacon fat and sauerkraut.

What do you say? Help the fermentation foodies. Which wine would you pair with sauerkraut (in any preparation)–or is pairing fermented grape juice with fermented cabbage…impossible?

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24 Responses to “Sauerkraut: impossible food-wine pairing?!?”


  1. Impossible pairing? Not at all.. Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Gewurztraminer are perfect with sauerkraut.

    Btw, I used Sandor Katz’s recipe for making kraut at home and it couldn’t be simpler.


  2. Every winter I make choucroute at least once; usually more often. It is a regional dish of Alsace, and pairs well with the wines originating there. I have also had it with Sauternes and once a vin jaune.


  3. Alsace Gewurztraminer is almost classic for this pairing


  4. In general, I would think that it should be always possible to find a food/wine pairing – however, in this particular case, my brain for some reason screams “impossible”. I will have try it tonight and report back – gives me a good reason to open more than one bottle of wine :)

    At the same time, what about sake? I think it should work well?


  5. I’m a big fan of souerkraht, but I can’t imagine that intense amount of salt isn’t offsetting almost all of the healthy character of the condiment…
    Hmm let me think… perhaps something a bit more salient in character to pair with, then offset the salt… Assyrtiko from Santorini? ;)


  6. deliciusss……..very good


  7. Hi Gretchen – Glad to hear it’s as easy as it looks. For others who haven’t found it, here’s the link to Katz’ recipe:
    http://bit.ly/fEOjP2


  8. Btw, here are some reactions via Twitter:

    @Timfishwine: Sauerkraut pairs best with the compost heap. Blech! Now Kimche, that’s different.

    @RieslingAC: i’d go gelber muskateller

    @Wineopinions: Never a problem in Alsace…

    @PieterBK05: Alsace Riesling would do it

    @MeteorVineyard: In this case I error toward classic and pour riesling.


  9. Alsatian Pinot Blanc would be my choice, but I think these are all great suggestions.


  10. I would pour something with a little residual sugar in it.. Riesling spatlese perhaps. I might even pour a lighter, less serious pinot Noir.


  11. One more via Twitter from Michael Madrigale (@barboulud) who probably confronts this pairing every night:

    “Riesling is the J to the Choucroute’s PB. Generally Grand Cru Alsace with higher alcohol. Or Smaragd level in Austria.”


  12. Tyler,
    We featured sauerkraut in one of our “Challenging Wine Pairings” posts last year. http://winepeeps.com/2009/09/08/challenging-wine-pairing-smoked-sausage-and-sauerkraut/
    Of the two wines we tasted with the meal, our preference was a Washington State Poet’s Leap Riesling.


  13. Two pairing possibilities, both of which can show a nice saline character: Gruner Veltliner and Muscadet. Or, of course, beer.


  14. i’ve enjoyed sauerkraut with alsatian and german rieslings, as well as fruity high acid cote de beaune pinots. the riesling was definitely the winner, but the pinot was by no means bad or ruined by the food.


  15. Well I have enjoyed craploads of it with Alsacian wine and loved it …great with an acidic pinot noir too.


  16. @winetal: I’ll bet a Cotes de Beaune Pinot would be awesome! Mmm, I’m drooling already.


  17. Gewurtz


  18. All these suggestions work if you wash the kraut first to remove some of the saltiness and acid. If you try to eat it directly from the crock or heaven forbid, the bag or can, then nothing can help.

    We made a choucroute garnie last week with smoked turkey instead of pork as the main meat. Less greasy and heavy than the traditional version. It paired nicely with a dry Sauvignon Blanc from Quincy.


  19. Your sandwich idea sounds delish. As a kid I thought sauerkraut would be disgusting because of the smell and I never tried it until my 20′s. It is delicious and really becomes part of a tasty package with a earthy whole grain bread, spicy mustard, savory protein, cheese, and a glass of Reisling Spatlese. The addition of tart cherry tomatoes sounds perfect. Also, grilled beets would work.


  20. Since I’m was trained as a winemaker in Southwestern Germany, I leraned the German Kitchen as well. I now ferment my own Sauerkraut at home. Our Website ScottHarveyWines.com has the recipe for making wonderful Pfalzer style sauerkraut. Of course a halbtroken kabinett style Riesling is the best wine to go with it.


  21. We’ll be having loads of this stuff in the next weeks here in Poland. That’s because sauerkraut is one of the most basic, traditional Christmas products here. And I’ll be pairing it with rieslig – always a bottle of it on my Christmas table.


  22. Depends on what you make with sauerkraut. Typical Polish sauerkraut meal is bigos – basically a stew made from sauerkraut and any leftover meat from Christmas or Easter. It always go good with hearty, full-bodied red wine.


  23. i had sauerkraut along and i paired it with a merlot…i loved them together because the kraut is so salty and the bitterness of the merlot washed it away nicely…
    what ya’ll think about that??


  24. I served Sauerkraut and pork with keilbasa for New Years 2013. It was really good with a Sean Minor Pinot Noir. My Kraut is made with extra cabbage, brown sugar and beer. This wine was perfect with it.


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