If chicken soup is Jewish penicillin then miso soup is the Japanese version, so during flu season I don’t take a chance: I make miso chicken soup. Even when I’m not sick, and even if it takes two hours to make, I feel spoiled. I cook the chicken slow and low and stir in onions, ginger, garlic, mushrooms and bok choy.
It’s the sort of dish that needs a particular wine. The soup is rich and has layers of complex Asian flavors. A full-flavored Chardonnay might come off fat and clumsy, so that isn’t my first choice, and yet a bracingly crisp white like a Grüner Veltliner or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc would be too much of a contrast.
I prefer a California Sauvignon Blanc that plays it down the middle, like the Honig Napa Valley 2009 ($16) I served with the soup recently. The wine’s key grape source is Honig’s estate vineyard in Rutherford and except for 1 percent Sémillon, it’s pure Sauvignon Blanc. It’s fermented in stainless steel and then aged for three months in a blend of stainless and large neutral oak casks. It has floral citrus aromas with a touch of grass and crisp yet creamy nectarine and lemon flavors that have a refreshing finish. I rated it 89 points, non-blind.
WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Honig Sauvignon Blanc Napa Valley 2009 (88, $16).
• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for more recently rated Top Values among Sauvignon Blancs from California.