Wine makers have experimented with different wines for millennia, but to our knowledge this is the first example of making wine from asparagus. A small Michigan winery, Fox Barn Market & Winery in Shelby, is producing small quantities of wine from the smelly vegetable. Kelly Fox, one of the owners, said the idea came to her when her handed her a tub of mashed asparagus. She added water, sugar, and yeast, and it started fermenting. Fox noted, “It did not smell great.”
After 24 weeks of fermentation and periodic clarification, the asparagus wine is ready to drink. According to Fox, it is very clear and has a “mild asparagus aroma and flavor with a little hint of sweetness.” The story in the Chicago Tribune gives no indication as to whether the mercaptans, the compounds responsible for asparagus’s stinky reputation, are removed during the fermentation process or whether they stay with the wine.
Wine and asparagus don’t generally mix. A post at Sunset is titled, “Asparagus: wine enemy number 1?” and suggests that the vegetable “can make many wines taste dank, vegetal, or just plain weird.” BrooklynGuy thinks “this whole asparagus are impossible to pair with wine thing is exaggerated,” but still lists many precautions. Epicurious calls the pairing “the ultimate challenge” and compares asparagus to Kryptonite. (Presumably the wine is Superman in that analogy.) Ladies with Bottle call them “uncomfortable bedfellows.” But all of these resources acknowledge that there are ways to combine asparagus and wine (though not in the same glass) with good results.
Not oddly, the Foxes called their creation Odd Fox Wine. If you want to try this delicacy, you’ll have to act quickly. This year’s production will be a mere 70 – 90 half-bottles.