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Butternut squash soup—not something I eat often—got me feeling experimental one night. I was making a version with caramelized apples and trying to decide what to serve with it. I ended up creating a full-on taste test: two versions of the soup (a sweeter style with the apples, and a dryer one without them) matched with four different wines (a Gewürztraminer, a dry Chenin Blanc, a German Riesling and a Viognier-Marsanne blend).
My husband dutifully tried all eight combinations. Though he was trying to maintain a neutral expression so as not to influence my impressions, when I saw his eyes widen and his lips turn up slightly on the seventh match, I knew we had a winner.
The lightly sweet Leitz Riesling ($16), shows a classic profile of peaches and slate, finishing fresh and clean; its light frame belies the concentration of flavor. With the caramelized apple version, it was a seamless match, the flavors blending on the finish, the soup and the wine bringing out the apple notes in each other. 90 points, non-blind.
For the record, all the wines fared better with the apple version, which helped emphasize their fruit, than with the plain butternut squash soup; the Leitz also proved best with the latter, though the Chenin was pleasant as well. The Gewürztraminer's floral notes didn't harmonize with the soup (a slightly sweeter bottling might have fared better), and the creamy, oaked Viognier-Marsanne simply overpowered the soup's flavors.
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