As a sommelier, pairing wine with soup has always been a source of anxiety. It's not so much a flavour thing, as a texture thing. The concept of pairing one liquid with another when they are in the same ballpark of weight is a strange one and it becomes more difficult the lighter the soup. Sherry is often a reliable pairing. The higher alcohol works as a textural contrast, the acidity is lively enough to match a food that usually has plenty of acid, and there is a range of sweetness levels to choose from. Sake and sparkling wines are two other deep resources to consider. The heavier and chunkier a soup is, the easier it gets. Imagine a consommé versus a hearty stew.
I came across this great recipe in Food & Wine: How to Make French Onion Soup. The pork broth lays a savoury base, there's the smokiness of bacon, the sweetness of cooked onions, the toasted flavours of the croutons and the creaminess and nuttiness of Gruyere cheese. It sounds a little like a nightmare of elements and textures to contend with, but there are plenty of great options to dig up.
With French Onion Soup, the experts tend to suggest richer whites like an Alsatian Pinot Blanc, white Burgundy, or a Grüner Veltliner. For reds it's Pinot or Gamay, specifically red Burgundy and Beaujolais.
I like the idea of something white with minerality and texture. I recently drank a bottle of F.X. Pichler's Urgestein Terrassen Smaragd Grüner from 2007, which was stunning and I can't think of a bottle I'd rather bring back to life for this occasion. From the My Wine Canada portfolio, Tawse's iconic 2011 Quarry Road Chardonnay also comes to mind—it has heaps of stony minerality and it's barrel fermented, giving the wine richness and spice. Moon Curser's 2013 Afraid of the Dark, a blend of Roussanne, Viognier, and Marsanne, has a slight oily texture that should work very nicely. Finally, following the Alsatian inspiration, JoieFarm's 2013 A Noble Blend is a take on Edelzwicker, made mostly from Gewurztraminer and Riesling with a touch of residual sugar that will pair beautifully with the pork elements and not cower to the sweetness from the onions.
Jake Skakun is a writer and sommelier from Vancouver, currently living in Toronto. He can be found most days pulling corks and twisting caps at the Black Hoof. He Tweets and Instagrams @jakeskakun.