Did you know that Rheinhessen is one of the biggest asparagus-growing areas of Rhineland-Palatinate? Asparagus prefers sandy soil and warm climate. The cultivation started with the Romans, but it lasted until the 16th century before the vegetables came to Germany, France and the Netherlands. First it was used as a medical plant. In 1539 asparagus was first mentioned as delicacy for gourmets. Due to its price, it was referred to as the "royal vegetable", "edible ivory" or "white gold".
Depending on the cultivation method, asparagus can be white or green. The white ones are obtained by the labor intensive hilling cultivation method. The asparagus is harvested before it "sees the sun". The green one is harvest above ground. In the 19th century the green asparagus was displaced by the white one but has reconquered its place in the Haute Cuisine today. Only seasonally on the menu, asparagus dishes are advertised outside many restaurants, usually from late April to June.
Rheinhessen Silvaner is the perfect match for white asparagus with hollandaise sauce, ham or some butter. Mild acidity and taste of gooseberry and quince underline the aroma of the "royal vegetable". The flavour of green asparagus demands a little bit more body. A classic Riesling, a Pinot Gris or a Chardonnay will be the perfect choice. But you better hurry up! The asparagus period traditionally ends on June 24., St. John´s Night.