Challenging Wine Pairing: Smoked Sausage and Sauerkraut

By LaGayle ~ September 8th, 2009.

This post is the first in a series on challenging wine pairings. Many people probably wouldn’t even try to pair wine with smoked sausage and sauerkraut; however, we were up to the challenge because we believe that any meal can be paired with a wine that compliments the food.

Smoked Sausage and Sauerkraut paired with Riesling and MalbecAs I began planning our first Challenging Wine Pairing meal, I started thinking about foods that I’ve had and enjoyed but not necessarily eaten regularly. The weather this time of year in Seattle is absolutely fantastic, so I wanted to select a menu that allowed me to enjoy the outdoors while preparing the meal on a beautiful day. So, I decided to prepare smoked beef sausage on the grill on our deck. I served the sausage on a French roll topped with sauerkraut and offered mustard on the side. Once I had my main dish selected, I tried to determine what would go best with the smoked sausage. German potato salad came to mind. My mother-in-law often made a great potato salad that the family always enjoyed. The potato salad was made with kosher dill pickles, and the dressing used was a mix of mayonnaise and dill pickle juice. To round out the meal, I served a tomato/green bean salad following a recipe that was shared with me by my sister-in-law.

As you can see, this meal was a combination of family favorites. I wasn’t sure if everyone would enjoy the sauerkraut, but I was determined to give it a shot. Much to their surprise, everyone enjoyed it. Even, my 2 ½ year old granddaughter, who absolutely loved the sausage, enjoyed a few bites of sauerkraut and didn’t even flinch!

I gave the task of wine selection to John and Kori. We wanted to try the meal with both a red and a white wine. The two wines they chose to pair with this meal were a Riesling and a Malbec. Since the meal was German, it made sense to pair it with Riesling, a grape variety that originated in Germany. We drank the 2007 Poet’s Leap Riesling. In fact, while this wine is made from Washington State grapes, the winemaker is Armin Diel, one of Germany’s most acclaimed Riesling producers. This wine had aromas and flavors of honey and apricot. Its crisp acidity and hint of sweetness worked quite well with the sweet and salty combo of sauerkraut and sausage. For the red wine, John and Kori considered Zinfandel and Merlot which are both generally good with hot dogs and BBQ, but ultimately decided on Malbec to try something different. They thought the spiciness of the Malbec would do well with the spicy German sausage. We drank the 2006 Watermill Estate Malbec. This wine had loads of black fruit aromas and flavors along with black pepper and other spices. While both wines paired well with the meal, we all thought the Riesling paired the best. The Malbec did taste great with the sausage but was a bit too bold for the sauerkraut.

To top off our dinner we enjoyed some fabulous homemade chocolate chip cookies that were given to us by a good friend. The Malbec was absolutely fantastic with the cookies!

This challenge was a lot of fun, and I would encourage you to try your own pairing challenge at home. Also, we would love for you to suggest Challenging Wine Pairing meals for us to try in the future.

Bon Appétit!

Filed under: American Wine, Challenging Wine Pairing, Food & Wine, Malbec, Oregon Wine, Red Wine, Riesling, Washington State Wine, White Wine

Reader's Comments

  1. Mike Veseth | September 8th, 2009 at 11:04 am

    A great pairing challenge. I would probably reach for an Alsatian Riesling. Sticking closer to home, however, I think the Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells Riesling would work well, too.

  2. Bill | September 8th, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    My first thought was Andechs Beer as that’s what I had with sausage & kraut when in Munich. If you ever go to Munich check it out…best beer ever…okay, so my second thought was perhaps the German Rieslings…question is dry or off-dry or sweet??? I’d probably go with the off-dry the first time in order to get the sweetness with the acidity, but a well aged Riesling would be very interesting. Okay, so now I want to go store and try this food with Chateau Ste. Michelle’s dry and sweet rieslings. I’ll let you know. Livestrong, Bill

  3. Kori | September 8th, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Good suggestion. I think that the Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling would work well too.

    Beer would probably be a good choice too, but we always focus on what wines we can pair with different meals. I hope you do try this meal with different Rieslings. I’d love to hear how it turns out. The Poet’s Leap is off-dry and worked extremely well.


  4. WineLife365 | September 10th, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Haven’t tried the 2006 Watermill Estate Malbec, but the 2007 Poet’s Leap Riesling is fabulous and sounds terrific with this meal.

  5. Kori | September 10th, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    While the Watermill Malbec didn’t pair quite as well with this meal, I definitely would encourage you to try it. It is an excellent wine. This meal was a lot of fun, and the Poet’s Leap was fabulous with it. Cheers!