This Guest Post was written by Daniel Matthews Exclusively for Social Vignerons.
Ok so I’m not trying to pick at old wounds. But I have to admit I wouldn’t have experience pairing wine with salad if it weren’t for an ex-girlfriend. She’s a Kiwi named Katie (for anyone unfamiliar, ‘Kiwi’ is another name for someone from New Zealand).
Katie pointed out three facts:
- Salad is good for you – according to a large study in Sweden, people who eat at least 3 servings of fruits and veggies a day live longer than those who don’t
- A glass of wine with a meal is also good for you – according to WebMD, moderate wine consumption lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks
- Wine is so versatile, you can find a bottle to pair with just about anything
But what type of wine, I asked, would you want to pair with a salad? What would you want to put in the salad to compliment the wine? And who would be crazy enough to do such a thing?
She gracefully ignored the third question (but now you probably have a pretty good idea as to why we’re not together anymore) and took the opportunity to educate me on New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
Sauvignon Blanc is New Zealand’s most popular and most produced varietal. It made up seventy-two percent of 2014’s harvest in New Zealand, and eighty-six percent of the country’s exported wine was Sauvignon Blanc. She’d visited the Marlborough region and acquainted herself with several different wineries—and with Sauvignon Blanc—before we met.
Not only was my girlfriend a New Zealand export, so was the wine she recommended with salad! I was practically effervescent over this.
Of course, there are other wines that pair well with salad, such as Pinot Gris or Riesling. Whichever wine you decide on, here are six tips for pairing wine with salad, courtesy of Clubs of America:
- Think Green: Think the herbal character of a Sauvignon Blanc, with its “sassy boldness” hinting at freshly mowed grass, bell pepper, green apple; or the crisp, floral, brightly herbaceous character of a Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris
- Think Protein: If pairing with a fruity red wine, add hardboiled egg, or smoked fish, and cheese
- Think Links: Add roasted hazelnuts and walnuts, almond slivers, avocados, aged or dry cheeses, anything that links up well with wine
- Think Technique: Try grilling veggies, such as bell peppers, and let them cool for fifteen minutes before adding them to salad; try mincing and roasting garlic and tossing it into the mix
- Invest in the Best: In terms of dressing, go with a high-quality balsamic vinaigrette or sherry vinaigrette; instead of vinaigrette, try orange or lemon juice; if you’re making vinaigrette from scratch (recommended) use the highest quality extra-virgin olive oil, because good olive oil is wine’s best friend
- Exercise Caution: Make sure salad ingredients don’t clash with wine; acidic tomatoes and dressings need high-acid wines, such as a Burgundy Chardonnay; salty ingredients, such as anchovies, need fruity wines, such as a Port, a Riesling, or a fruity Pinot Noir
I can’t stress the bit about acidity enough. Vinegar and citrus-based dressing are so high in acidity, they’ll pretty much kill the wine and make it go flabby on your palette if the wine’s not acidic. An acidic dressing and wine pairing will wash out the acidity, leaving room for the immediate salad flavors.
In terms of European wines, a Txakolina from the Basque country, a Loire Valley Muscadet, or a Picpoul de Pinet from France are all excellent choices. And, you cannot possibly go wrong with Gruner Veltliner with salad, because Gruner is a green, acidic wine with a white pepper palette that compliments vegetables perfectly.
If you’re using a creamy dressing, an oaked wine with some creaminess to it will do. I recommend a big, buttery Chardonnay.
Experiment, try adding dried cranberries, try a white balsamic vinaigrette dressing, try artichoke hearts, grilled chicken, salmon, and blue cheese. For a less acidic vinaigrette that goes perfectly with nearly any wine, try this Verjus Vinaigrette recipe. As my ex would say, whakawaiwai! Delicious.
If you’re planning on lighting up a BBQ to garnish your salad with some meats, check out Social Vignerons’ Top 3 Tips for Pairing Wine with Barbecue.
About the Author:
Daniel Matthews is a freelance writer from the Northwest. He spent a long, lazy summer working at a wine shop in a small mountain town, and fell in love with all things wine. Please find him on Twitter or LinkedIn.