In the ceiling frescoes of the Sistine Chapel, Adam and Eve’s “forbidden fruit” is a fig, not a pomegranate, grape or apple.
But regardless of whether figs were the seed-bearing fruits mentioned in the Bible, they’ve been part of the human diet for millennia. In fact, some researchers now believe they may have been the first ever cultivated plants.
Subtropical fruits, fresh figs are icons of late summer, at their peak from roughly August to October, with nectar that bursts from their velvety skins like water escaping a dam. Dried figs, meanwhile, are widely available all year. The unique flavors of both allow for a full spectrum of wine pairings.
A fresh fig’s concentrated flavors vary in ripeness and can bring to mind fresh berry compotes or jams.
Ripe figs have a sticky sweetness that resembles honey, with complex hints of bitterness and spice. This quality pops alongside Roussanne, which can have similar rich flavors of honey, in addition to apricot and fresh flowers.
Dried figs have an obvious similarity to prunes, but fresh figs share dusky black-fruit notes, too. The darkest and sweetest Sherry, Pedro Ximénez, has dried-fruit flavors as well as hints of nuts and coffee that are quite fig friendly.
Both fresh and dried figs possess a subtle damp and earthy scent that can recall mushrooms or truffles. This damp character goes well with Nebbiolo, which can offer aromas of tar or clay in addition to its dried-flower and red-fruit notes.
Published: August 7, 2021