101 with German cuisine: Zwiebelkuchen + Scheurebe

Wine pairings with german food, german wine, and their friends & neighbours.

Swabian Zwiebelkuchen... a 'frenched' version.
Not exactly your classic Swabian Zwiebelkuchen… a ‘frenched’ version.

If you have lived in a southern German wine region for a while, say Rheinhessen, Pfalz, Baden, or Würtemberg, your mind will have autocorrected this column’s header to ‘Zwiebelkuchen and Federweisser’ – that inseparable food and wine pairing omnipresent during harvest in Germany. Ensure you have a taste when taking a tour of the wine regions in the southwest.

‘Zwiebelkuchen’ refers to an onion pie, and Federweisser to a soon-to-be-wine, a grape must that just started fermenting. A kind of Wine-o-Nade – you get what I mean. While good fun in small quantities the biggest merit of Federweisser is to be marking a season: Wine harvest is on when there is Federweisser …and Zwiebelkuchen. Can’t find any of these? In this case the harvest is done, and you are totally free to turn to a proper wine.

A classic Zwiebelkuchen from southern Germany’s Swabia will be based on a yeast pastry dough, and tons of simmered onions, seasoned with bacon and caraway seeds.  Being a half-french snob I like my Zwiebelkuchen with a thin savoury shortcrust, the onions (still heaps of them), caramelised in butter with black pepper, laurel and thyme, and finally the entire tart pimped with semi-dried black olives.

With the German wine harvest 2020 being over and Federweisser having vanished, we pair our Zwiebelkuchen with a bottle of Weingut Pfeffingen’s entry-level Scheurebe. If you like Sauvignon Blanc, this one is for you. It’s perfect. With medium acidity, floral aromas on the nose, pear and lime on the palate, the Scheurebe Ungstein 2018 makes for a most worthy Federweisser substitute – one we actually do want to polish off in one go.

Scheurebe - a very german wine varietal.
Scheurebe – a very german wine varietal.