According to conventional food-and-winematching, two vegetables are particularly troublesome: artichokes and asparagus. Artichokes do make most wines taste sweet. But although asparagus is not a great all-rounder for wine, you can avoid disaster by steering clear of almost all reds (tannic ones especially) – though a light, soft pinot will work with chargrilled spears. Swerving oaky whites is sound advice, but with hollandaise, some creamy oak works a treat.
For a classic pairing, I look for high acidity and the grassy, fresh flavours found in the vegetable. Sauvignon blanc is a popular choice, though go for restraint rather than exuberance, such as the classical examples of the Old World, in particular the Loire Valley. In Alsace, muscat is poured during the asparagus season, and it’s a lovely partnership. Italy’s crisp, herbaceous northern whites do an excellent job, and don’t ignore Austria’s grüner veltliner. Riesling is excellent in general, but avoid off-dry styles. Let the spears take centre stage with these springlike matches.