Want to make a bunch of wine experts scratch their head in confusion and minor frustration? Put a plate of lutefisk in front of them along with a wide variety of wines (Cava, Gruner Veltliner, Chardonnay, Cru Beaujolais, and more … even sake’) and ask them to pick the perfect pairing.

Before we go too far, a quick primer on lutefisk (especially for those that don’t live in the Upper Midwest).

Lutefisk is one of the ultimate love it or hate it foods. Even the Wikipedia page on the topic mentions, “Lutefisk prepared from cod is somewhat notorious, even in Scandinavia, for its intensely offensive odor.” Mmmmm … sounds glorious!

Here’s the preparation: Dried cod, with the shape and texture of a piece of wood, is reconstituted in water for four to five days. Then it’s immersed in a bath of caustic lye for two or three more days, followed by a good rinsing to wash off the caustic lye (we are, after all, going to be eating this). Simple preparation of the fish (poaching or steaming is common) right before serving completes the process.

lutefisk

Properly prepared and cooked lutefisk should relish in an absence of negatives: it should not smell or taste like a fish that once had the consistency of a 1×6 board that soaked in a bath of sodium hydroxide for many days. If you achieve that, you have good lutefisk on your plate.

However, for honestly great lutefisk visit Fika Cafe at the American Swedish Institute.

Always wanting to do a wine experiment, Larry Colbeck decided to visit the American Swedish Institute with some wine expert friends to see what pairing would be best. Many thanks to Fika for letting us come in to do our little wine tasting.

If you’re looking for a lutefisk dinner in Minnesota, you can find an updated list at the Lutefisk Lover’s Lifeline website (or just see the PDF of the list here). No mention of corkage fees, though.

son lutefisk truck

A common sight throughout the Upper Midwest during the holiday season.

***

Here are the wines presented in the video, with purchasing locations for the top three choices, listed alphabetically by city. Please call ahead for availability.

BLANCHET Pouilly-Fume Calcite (tied for top choice)

Cheers - Bloomington
Bloomington
(952) 941-0998

Dennis Brothers Liquor
Cottage Grove
(651) 458-8932

Edina Country Club
Edina
(952) 927-7151

Kowalski's Excelsior Market
Excelsior
(952) 229-8300

Brackett's Crossing Country Cl
Lakeville
(952) 435-7600

Kowalski's Uptown Market
Minneapolis
(612) 377-3448

4 Bells
Minneapolis
(612) 904-1163

Stinson Wine, Beer & Spirits
Minneapolis
(612) 789-0678

Franklin-nicollet Liquors
Minneapolis
(612) 871-1511

Cafe Lurcat
Minneapolis
(612) 374-1776

North Loop Wine & Spirits
Minneapolis
(612) 338-5393

France 44
Minneapolis
(612) 925-3252

U.s. Liquor & Wine
Minnetonka
(952) 912-9797

Kowalski's - Oak Park Heights
Oak Park Heights
(651) 439-9161

Oak Liquor
Oakdale
(651) 739-9739

Tessa's Office
Rochester
(507) 226-7763

St Cloud Country Club
St Cloud
(320) 253-1331

Liquor Boy
St Louis Park
(952) 512-2200

Yarmo Liquor
St Paul
(651) 698-0707

W.a. Frost
St Paul
(651) 224-5715

First Grand Liquors
St Paul
(651) 227-7039

University Club - Summit
St Paul
(651) 222-1751

Kowalski's Woodbury Market
Woodbury
(651) 578-8800

NIKOLAIHOF Hefeabzug Gruner Veltliner (tied for top choice)

Mendoberri
Mendota Heights
(651) 209-3270

Alma Restaurant
Minneapolis
(612) 379-4909

Haute Dish
Minneapolis
(612) 338-8484

Zipp's
Minneapolis
(612) 333-8686

Spoonriver
Minneapolis
(612) 436-2236

South Lyndale Liquor
Minneapolis
(612) 827-5811

Terzo
Minneapolis
(612) 925-3113

Heyday
Minneapolis
(651) 699-3536

D.b. Searles
St Cloud
(320) 253-0655

Minneapolis Golf Club
St Louis Park
(952) 544-4471

Solo Vino
St Paul
(651) 602-9515

Top Ten Liquors - Woodbury
Woodbury
(651) 501-1199

BRUNDLMAYER Gelber Muskateller (unanimous second choice)

New Scenic Cafe
Duluth
(218) 525-6274

Mendoberri
Mendota Heights
(651) 209-3270

Bachelor Farmer
Minneapolis
(612) 206-3920

510 Restaurant (la Belle Vie)
Minneapolis
(612) 874-6440

South Lyndale Liquor
Minneapolis
(612) 827-5811

St. Genevieve
Minneapolis
(612) 353-4843

Chicago Lake Liquor
Minneapolis
(612) 825-4401

Closed - Brasserie Zentral
Minneapolis
(612) 333-0505

Travail
Robbinsdale
(612) 669-5231

Heartland
St Paul
(651) 699-3536

Other wines brought to the table:
FEVRE Chablis Montee de Tonnerre
MONTE VICOR Cava
DEWAZAKURA Ginjo Sake * 10th Degree
DONNHOFF Estate Riesling
CHATEAU AU COTET Sauternes
FIGUEIRASSE Gris de Gris Rose
PRIELER Blaufrankisch Ried Johanneshohe
DOMAINE LAUNAY Saint Amour

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