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Which Wine for Salad Course

Ciao, Hounds:

For the salad course of my upcoming dinner party I am planning to serve an endive salad ( endive, apple, walnuts, goat cheese) with a vinegrette dressing. I am somewhat concerned that the vinegar will make the wine taste odd. Any suggestions on what kind of wine or what kind of vinegrette to serve that will minimize this problem? Many thanks!

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  1. Are you serving multiple wines? Are you serving an entree, and another wine with it?

    I eat salads with vinaigrette all the time, and I drink white wine all the time, specifically Pinto Grigio or Sauv Blanc. I do not find the dressing to make my wine taste off........

    1 Reply
    1. re: Dirtywextraolives

      Where in the menu are you serving the salad? If before the main, Champagne; if after, stay with whatever you're drinking with the main.

    2. What are you pouring during appetizers? If I'm serving something sparkling to start, i often carry that through a salad course. Then pair something else with the meain...

      1. Obviously the vinaigrette is the problem. Think about using a rice wine vinegar, dilute a champagne vinegar, or use lemon juice (and do away with the vinaigrette completely).

        As far as the menu is concerned, are you: a) serving soup or an appetizer course ***before*** the salad; b) starting the sit-down portion of the meal with the salad course; or c) serving the salad course *after* the main, and before dessert?

        Presuming it's a) or b), I'd opt for a Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé with the salad course. If opting for a California Sauvignon Blanc, I'd select one with little -- possibly no -- oak. Champagne will also work, particularly if your meal starts with the salad. I'd look for a Brut Blanc des Blancs Champagne, in that case.

        If c), I'd actually skip the wine entirely -- especially if the entrée calls for a red. Serving the salad course after the main serves the purpose of a palate cleanser, as would a sorbet, prior to dessert. I'd let the salad serve its purpose, and then bring out the dessert and the wine to pair with it.

        1. I've never had issues with vinaigrette and wine when I make the vinaigrette.

          I often use wine as the vinegar component in the vinaigrette and then serve the same wine.

          But you don't have to serve wine with salad, and can easily stick with the white wine/Champagne served before (if that's your sequence of courses).

          1. As described I lean to chardonnay or sauvignon blanc.

            But if you would substitute emmental for the goat cheese, it matches riesling very nicely and riesling is a better match with apple than SB or chard IMO.

            3 Replies
            1. re: TombstoneShadow

              Many thanks for all suggestions. The salad will be the first sit-down course. This is an Alsatian dinner with choucroute and Alsatian wines, so your idea of substituting emmental for goat cheese is perfect. I will also either use wine for the acid componant or citrus, or a less astringent vinegar as several of you have suggested. Thanks to all.

              1. re: lattelover

                Just the thought of wine with a sald iis shocking to me: it was verboten when I was a boy. only your boozy sclerotic Aunt Eufalia would do it..and it was best to give her a small glass of "water" to get her through the course.
                In those days, though, we ate saladafter the main course/

                1. re: lattelover

                  yes, if it's alsatian cuisine then riesling makes all the more sense. As a few posters have mentioned, you can just leave this wine on the table as you bring out additional courses that it likely will match.

              2. I'd just like to mention that cheese served before a main course can dull the appetite for the main course.

                If you want the focus and excitement to be on the choucroute (a dish I make often), I'd serve a small appetizer or course with no cheese before the choucroute.

                And possibly serve a salad after, if it won't conflict with all the cabbage-ness of the choucroute.

                Maybe even another vegetable after, instead of repeating apples in the salad. Your choucroute does have sliced apples that cook down along with the cabbage, right? I've found the most flavorful recipes do.

                Cheeses would be lovely after. An assortment. Alsatian, French, with the Rieslings, some non-apple-y fruit. You get the idea.

                Just my sense.

                2 Replies
                1. re: maria lorraine

                  Thank you. Any suggestions on an alternate first course? I could do pear instead of apples in the salad and omit the cheese......(yes, the coucroute will have apple in it, but I don't think it will be noticeable). I am thinking of serving an Alsatian cheese pie. (something like a light cheesecake) for dessert. I usually serve a cheese course after the main, but I think everyone will be too full.

                  1. re: lattelover

                    Choucroute and other large main courses are so flavorful, and filling, that you don't want to damper any appetite for them with courses coming before. On the other hand, because they are filling, guests might not be hungry for anything else immediately afterwards. So, the pacing has to change because of the filling one-pot main course. You could serve a small green salad after the main course, but I'm not sure there would be any interest or appetite left.

                    I think what I'd do (not sure this is of help), is take a break after the main course, then serve a platter or board of cheeses and fruits, and continue with the Rieslings. Perhaps the tiniest sweet dessert thing, with a dessert Riesling, coffee and tea.

                2. Vinegar does indeed make wine taste odd. If you want your salad dressing to be wine friendly, try lemon juice as your acid. There are then many (mostly white) wines that will go well, depending upon the other ingredients in your vinaigrette.

                  1. my two cents:
                    substitute citrus juice for the vinegar.

                    1. A variation on your salad which I'm familiar w/ is blue cheese and walnuts in an endive leaf, drizzled w/ honey, rather than a vinegar based dressing. With that I'd serve a dessert wine like Sauternes. With goat cheese used in your salad I could see a dessert Chenin Blanc or Riesling working if you also went the honey route w/ your salad.

                      1. A bracingly tart white wine such as a Savennières will stand up best to tart dressings.

                        Verjuice / verjus is more wine-friendly than vinegar. Tart white wine reduced until the alcohol is pretty much gone and it's about as acidic as wine vinegar is even more wine-friendly. You can substitute either for vinegar in vinaigrette.

                        Alternatively, dress the salad with aioli.

                        I don't find citrus juice much more wine-friendly than vinegar.