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Feb 7, 2013 03:12 PM

Hot smoked salmon quesadillas pairing - Help!

I am having friends over for dinner on Saturday and making a couple of things I have no idea what to pair with:
1. Hot smoked salmon quesadillas (i.e. salty, smoky, and also having cilantro).
2. A creamy slaw that will have smokiness (mayo, green goddess dressing and liquid smoke, maybe a bit of smoked paprika -- it's delish)

I love both red and white, any suggestions much appreciated!
Thank you thank you!


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  1. For whites: Sauvignon Blanc could work or Vinho Verde. On the red side...maybe a Beaujolais?

    1 Reply
    1. re: goldangl95

      I like those suggestions.

      I would also consider a mellow buttery Chard as well.

      A Sav Blanc would work well if it is not too herby (smoke and herb might taste like a bon fire :), look for one with more citrus notes.

    2. What kind of cheese on the quesadillas?

      4 Replies
      1. re: jlbwendt

        The cheese is a mix of very mild cheddar and salty cotija and actually there isn't that much of it. There is also corn and black beans and red onion in there, mixed in with the salmon before it gets grilled, if that makes any difference!

        1. re: jlbwendt

          Beaujolais is the only red I found online, and it is one wine I know nothing about, except that I've so far not had a Beaujolais Nouveau that I liked a whole lot (to be fair, I have probably only had cheap ones). Do you know if it might work with one of the "heavier" ones? I Googled and found something about the ten "Cru" but have no idea what that means (know much more about Spanish!) or if it makes them fuller bodied.

          1. re: ldillma

            Beaujolais is a region. Beaujolais Nouveau is pretty different from a high quality Beaujolais. The closest analogy I can think of is to a Pinot Noir. Full of cherry fruit lighter weight.

            Maybe a Rioja Alta? They're a little more heavy bodied - the risk with going too heavy is it can be uncomfortable to eat with spicy foods.

        2. 3 whites really work nicely with these dishes: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and riesling, each in their own way and for the particular notes they play off of. There aren't any reds I would put in the same league with these pairings.

          In general my first choice for both dishes is chardonnay, either still or as champagne...

          The more pronounced the cilantro gets, the more the salmon approaches riesling...

          As for cheese in the quesadilla, you can really make a wine friendly move to take the dish to the next level... Start with your wine, let's say Chardonnay, then add a really chard-friendly cheese: Chevre, Gruyere and/ or Comte work awesome... try a lightly sprinkled blend of chevre and gruyere, for example.

          For sauvignon blanc, chevre is magic, gruyere and provolone also quite nice.
          For riesling: emmental.

          21 Replies
          1. re: TombstoneShadow

            Wow, fantastic! I am very excited now. And I love buttery chards, despite all the crap they get, so will def go in that direction. But since we all like whites and there is quite a bit of cilantro, maybe a riesling, as well (am hoping dry riesling would be ok? Had one awhile ago called Ein Zwei Drei (or Dry?) that I thought was really wonderful.

            Thanks, Tombstone!


            1. re: ldillma

              xLD: the only reason I probably wouldn't go quite so dry with these particular dishes is that you have quite alot of spiciness (the cilantro, the paprika...). Given that, I'd prolly prefer kabinett (regular lieblich) here... if you want a bit on the drier side maybe halb-trocken.

              Definitely like the idea of serving both the chardonnay and riesling, gives your guests two nice but quite different pairings, and a chance to sample each.

              1. re: TombstoneShadow

                Ah, ok. So no Ein Zwei Drei, then. OK; thank you, will def take your advice on this one. And yep, gonna get buttery chard, too (if you have any buttery chards in particular to suggest, I am all ears! I am in Atlanta, if that makes a dif on availability.
                Thank you Tombstone!

                1. re: ldillma

                  What's your upper price limit per bottle ?

                  1. re: TombstoneShadow

                    I would hope for $15 but if there is something spectacular could be convinced of 20$! On the "buttery chard" threads I looked at, most seemed to be either under $10 or over $20-$25 and I was feeling a bit left out! Any you particularly like come to mind?


                    1. re: ldillma

                      Well you won't get spectacular in chardonnay for $15-20.

                      IMO "spectacular" chardonnay really starts in the high 40's, low 50's and up from there.

                      And warning, I don't pay much attention to buttery vs. non, just go for overall good fruit, well-made, that pairs the food solidly.... a quick scan under $35 in atlanta area here's a few I've liked:

                      At Marietta Wine Market:
                      2007 Cambria (Sta Maria Vly): $18.99
                      2008 Rombauer (Carneros): $34.99

                      At totalwine:
                      2010 Chat. Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells, $13.99
                      2009 Migration is a more complex wine: $27.99

                      Those are all solid, not spectacular, will match your food nicely...

                      Good news is that there is plenty of excellent quality riesling at or near your budget.

                      1. re: TombstoneShadow

                        Ah, well that might explain the wide gaps in price point on the other threads. I will be headed out today to see what I come up with and thank you for all of your advice!

                        1. re: TombstoneShadow

                          Morning, ML
                          Wow, this is a great explanation and really really useful. I appreciate it! I knew Chards varied widely, and know that some I love and others I appear not to like at _all_, but quite honestly, I thought that people meant the same thing when they said "buttery" and "creamy" so this is great to know. I am now thinking this is going to be a very wine-filled dinner, because I may have to get a bottle of rosado (love Spanish rosados), and at this point one friend has already said she's going to bring La Crema (which, upon Googling, I have not been able to find whether is "sur lie" or not, and that makes me assume the answer is "not"), and the other friend is bringing Riesling! (but hey, I am about to run 22 miles, so I will deserve it!).

                          I know I like a lot of Sauv Blanc but am worried about not knowing quite enough and having the style I pick clash with the cilantro.

                          I also know I have loved both Chenin Blancs and Viogners, so if I find that Pine Ridge, that sounds like a great option.

                          I only hope my food will live up to all the great recommendations I've gotten. Thank you very much. About to read the Mexican and Provence links you sent!


                          1. re: ldillma

                            Awesome! Let us know how they all work =) It's great to read others experiences.

                            1. re: goldangl95

                              Well, thanks for asking! Guests just left. Here is what we ended up with, ALL of which I really thought paired well: 1) Selback-Oster 2010 Riesling (halb-trocken). It was a wee bit too off-dry for my taste but I enjoyed it very much and paired really very well. My problem with wines verging on the sweet is that it's simply too easy to drink them like juice. But at 10.5% it makes sense. Very good. 2) St Michelle Chardonnay, which I _loved_. I actually made one additional dish that I neglected to mention in my queries and it was a salad with raw beets, raw jicama, avocado, cilantro, and a dressing made of orange juic, cumin and coriander, and it was a fantastic pairing. And 3) La Crema Chard (Sonoma). Turns out there are two La Crema Chards, one from Sonoma and the other from my-friend-did-not-remember-where, but it was very very good. About $8 more than the St Michelle and I didn't like it _quite_ as much, though had I not had the comparison I would have said that I absolutely loved it (and did), but I am a philistine (and, now that the guests have left, I am currently finishing it off with the leftover chevre and it's pretty damn wonderful). Thanks to everyone so much for all of the input!

                              1. re: ldillma

                                LD: Thanks for the report back...

                                glad to hear you paired the chardonnay with chevre, that's a great match...

                                Alot of people go to these incredible lengths to put the right wines on the table for their main dishes and they miss the simple opportunity to then pair those wines with a cheese course... for just a few bucks you can really extend the meal that way.

                                1. re: TombstoneShadow

                                  Yes, I agree. Years ago a friend got me a book on pairings and I learned a lot from it (it has whole sections on different kinds of mushrooms, herbs, cheeses, etc) and I remember at the time reading that many (most?) cheeses pair better with whites shocking me hugely. I have done blue cheese and chard beforoe but not chevre. It was accidentally a chevre that had honey in it, but it was delicious. The sweetness offset the smokiness of other things very well.
                                  Also, forgot to say: someone had recommended a Viognier-Chenin Blanc blend, which I also bought, but since we ended up with three open bottles we did not get to it. Excited to try that with the leftovers!
                                  Happy Remainder of the Weekend!

                                  1. re: ldillma

                                    Many thanks again for the great dinner report Lisa...

                                    I do disagree with that book... there are fantastic pairings of red wine and cheese, just as there are awful pairings of white wine and cheese...

                                    but the right pairings are so good that it's not uncommon for the cheese course to be one of the favorite courses of any meal.

                                  2. re: TombstoneShadow

                                    I got the Pine Ridge! It has not yet been opened because we ended up with too much wine but I am excited to try it with leftovers. Thank you for the rec. Also - there was corn in the quesadillas as well, and the chards paired beautifully!

                                    1. re: ldillma

                                      The Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier is inexpensive white wine with good quality. Here is more info on that wine, and some other things to pair it with:


                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                        This definitely a good value wine. It does have a hint of residual sugar to it, which makes it a crowd pleaser. It goes really well as a warm day sipper, or paired with something having a touch of spice. Indian or thai food is a decent match. Come to think of it, it might even be a cheapie pairing for some seared foie.

                          2. re: ldillma

                            Chardonnay varies in style so widely it is many different wines. I think it's important to know how to ask for the style of Chardonnay that will pair best. The styles range from very buttery (the butteriness comes from a malolactic fermentation, or ML) to buttery to creamy to lean.

                            All those styles are very different in their flavors, so a blanket recommendation of Chardonnay can easily misguide the consumer.
                            I agree with the recommendation of Chardonnay, as long as it is slightly buttery or creamy -- it is important to specify the style of Chardonnay you'd like to buy at the store to get the best pairing.

                            What creamy refers to is not butteriness or ML, but a round, mouth-filling flavor that comes from aging on the yeast, a technique known as sur lie. Chardonnays made sur lie are known for pairing with fish, cream, and corn. With corn, there is a molecular similarity between it and this sur-lie style of Chardonnay, which makes an beautiful seamlessness in the pairing.

                            This style of Chardonnay also goes well with fish (even smoked fish) and some cheeses, so my recommendation would be for this style of wine -- sur lie or Montrachet-style.

                            A slightly buttery Chard, with a small amount of ML, will also work.

                            An overly buttery Chard just tastes like fake butter, like fake movie popcorn butter, so I don't advise you to go in the direction of a Rombauer Chardonnay.

                            I'd also recommend Rosé. Or Rosado from Spain, or Rosato from Italy. It's the best wine pairing I know with Mexican food, especially those with black beans and red onion. Many Rosé/Rosato/Rosado wines in your price range, though my preference is for the French or Provence Rosés. I don't think the flavors of a red wine any heavier than Rosé will work with your dishes.
                            Read more about Rosés and pairing here:

                            Rosé bubbly would also work quite well in addition to throwing a log onto the fire. Something like the Mumm Brut Prestige at $14 or so.

                            Read this previous thread on pairing wine with the Mexican food:

                            If the Mexican food were more cilantro/tomatillo/verde/green-based, I would recommend a Sauvignon Blanc, but only with reservations, and more likely, I'd probably head for a California Chenin Blanc, like the Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier blend for $12, a great buy.

                            Sauvignon Blanc, like Chardonnay, like any wine, also varies quite widely in style and resulting flavors, depending on where it's made and how it's made. Again, a blanket recommendation for a grape is not as useful as a recommendation for both a grape and a style. The style of SB tells you much more about its flavors and appropriateness as a wine for pairing. Some styles might work; others would be not good at all, just like Chardonnay. But I don't feel it or Riesling are good options here.


                      2. re: TombstoneShadow

                        Word. Chardonnay pairs well with smoked/grilled/braised dishes. It is, however, not the best with "green" flavors (see cilantro) nor spicy/chili flavors. The rounder/softer (less acidic it is) the even more it won't go with the green or chlli flavors.

                        It all depends on the balance of those flavors - if things are spicy (say "medium" spicy on the Chipotle scale) or more I would beware the buttery Chard.

                        La Crema makes a nice Chardonnay that you can get pretty widely for under $23 (and I've seen it at 15ish) that has some butteryness but also is lighter and sprightly enough that it can handle some green & heat.

                        White Burgundies are also something to look into.

                    2. re: TombstoneShadow

                      Sedimental (love the name),

                      Thank you! Buttery chard it is. (If you have any personal faves in the 10-15$ range, and feel like sharing names, I'd be happy to hear about them. Cheers! Excited for this meal now.


                      1. re: ldillma

                        For your price range, I would also suggest Ste Michelle Indian Wells, as someone else mentioned. I don't know how available it is where you live. It is a great versatile wine. The last few years have left it more creamy than buttery. I find it goes with salmon really nicely.

                        1. re: ldillma

                          If you liked the Ste Michelle wine, you might appreciate their Dry Riesling also. It is very inexpensive, it is my go to house wine for weekday creative dinners. It pairs wonderfully with creative fusion food. I am big on this style of cooking at home, often fusing Viet, Thai, Mexican, Indian. The Dry Riesling is clean, balanced, bright but with clear fruit flavors. Perfect for that..."what should I serve with Mexican egg rolls" moment!