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Oct 3, 2006 02:10 AM

Salmon - Wine Pairing for wine newbie

So I am cooking a 'Balsamic Glazed' Salmon for dinner this week. The recipe basically calls for garlic, white wine, honey, balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard.
So I am trying to get into drinking wine and have no idea what I actually like. Any recommendations for a wine that would go well with this meal? I was thinking a red wine, even though I did learn that white goes better with fish.

Any help with this would be appreciated. Also any suggestions of good wines to try for a wine newbie would be great.


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  1. Young, light, fruity reds work well with salmon, especially when the fish is accompanied by "dark" flavours like balsamic vinegar or smoke/char (like from a grill). In your shoes, I'd reach for a not-too-fancy pinot noir from New Zealand, the Pacific Northwest, Burgundy, Alsace, the Jura or the Loire. Other red possibilities include Beaujolais, gamay from just about anywhere, Valpolicella. While chardonnay is the classic white pairing for plain poached or roasted salmon, and while plenty of other whites can make a fine match, in this case you're probably best off going with a red or a deep pink.

    1. agree with pinot, esp. pacific northwest and nz. burgundy for a self-proclaimed wine neophyte can be a little intimidating, and rightfully so. even bourgogne rouge can vary a great deal depending on the producer. i'd also recommend grenache, esp. from spain; a dry riesling from australia, austria, or even a trocken style from germany; perhaps a savennieres, depending on how much honey is in the recipe. have fun--that's the most important part.
      as far as pairing white with fish-- some white works well with some fish... sometimes red works well with other types. think about the flavor profile of the fish itself--say for example snapper vs. bluefish. very different foods need very different wines.

      3 Replies
      1. re: HeelsSoxHound

        Salmon is usually too strong for most white wines. The classic paring is Pinot Noir. Other thoughts would be a nice but not to expensive Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone, Dolcetto, or Chilian Merlot.

        1. re: dinwiddie

          >>Salmon is usually too strong for most white wines. The classic paring is Pinot Noir.<<

          If pinot noir is a classic pairing, it's a fairly new one, and its popularity is mainly North American; indeed, an increasing number of gourmets dismiss the knee-jerk recommending of it as silly. White has long been the classic pairing. Cf four books I happen to have on my desk:

          Hugh Johnson's Pocket Encyclopedia: "Fine white burgundy ... Condrieu; California, Idaho or NZ Chard; Rheingau Kabinett/Spätlese, Australian Riesling or equivalent. Young pinot noir can be perfect, too – and claret not bad."

          Simon & Schuster Pocket Guide to California Wines: Baked - chard, preferably full-bodied and ripe. Baked with herbs - chard or well-oaked sauvignon blanc. Barbecued - subtle zinfandel with a bit of age. Butter-sautéed steaks - wide range of dry whites.

          Comment marier les mets et les vins:
          - Poached or pan-fried salmon steaks: Chablis, Meusault, Puligny-Montrachet, Mâcon-Villages, Graves.
          - With beurre blanc: Anjou, Savennières, dry and off-dry Vouvray and Mont-Louis, tokay pinot gris, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Menetou-Salon.
          - À l'unilatéral: Chablis, Sancerre, Savennières.
          - Cold poached salmon with mayonnaise: Tourraine sauvignon, Sancerre, understated riesling.

          Guide du vin (Phaneuf): Full-bodied white (Chablis grand cru, Puligny-Montrachet, Hermitage, California marsanne-roussane); structured rosé (Côtes-du-Rhône, Bandol). Tartare - dry white Bordeaux, Loire sauvignon blanc, Provençal rosé.

          Could quote many more sources but the upshot would be the same: Salmon is not too strong for most whites; indeed, whites are the pairing preferred by the majority of authoritative writers. YMMV, of course.

          1. re: dinwiddie

            I love pinot noir with salmon, but I would recommend sticking with new world p.n. I've found that the minerality and earthiness of Burgundy and other old world pinots clash with fish; I often get tinny metallic flavors in the wine. So for this dish, I would look for a CA, OR, or NZ pinot noir. Go to a good local wine shop (i.e., the megamart isn't going to cut it) and ask for some recommendations from the staff.


        2. White Burgundy is the classic pairing, but I think carswell nailed it: Pinot Noir from alsace or other cooler regions (not Sonoma or Central Coast). Trimbach makes a Pinot that would be a great pairing for your salmon.

          1. If the recipe calls for a white wine as part of the sauce, what are you using, and why not serve the same with the meal? ... it will by default be a good pairing as it will echo some of the flavor contained in the dish.