White beans themselves don’t have a ton of flavor, so the other ingredients in the soup will drive the wine pairing. Here are three approaches.
1. With greens or shellfish
Beans and greens (with or without shellfish) are a Mediterranean classic. If the soup doesn’t contain pork or tomatoes, try a zesty Italian white, like Soave or Verdicchio.
2. With tomatoes
Even if there are greens or shellfish involved, the tomatoes in your soup will drive the pairing. You can rarely go wrong with lighter styles of rosé from Provence; the light fruit and acidity just works with tomatoes.
3. With pork
Whether you use ham hock, sausage, prosciutto, chorizo, salami or bacon, you’ll find that cured pork and white beans go together a lot. With porky bean soups, you can opt for red wine because the salty, fatty meat acts as a bridge between the more tannic wine and other ingredients. Stick with lighter, more casual styles of red, like French Beaujolais or Italian Dolcetto. If no tomatoes are involved, you could also choose richer styles of dry Riesling from Alsace or Austria; they’re delicious with anything porky.
Kristin Donnelly is a former Food & Wine editor and author of the forthcoming The Modern Potluck (Clarkson Potter, 2016). She is also the cofounder of Stewart & Claire, an all-natural line of lip balms made in Brooklyn.