Salad was once merely a refreshing collection of leaves and herbs dressed with oil and seasoning, but many of our creations are becoming all-out meals. Our summer menus are much like those in every other household trying to beat the heat and keep it light. Salad (and not just the mixed greens standby) is a staple each week at dinner, so I am always looking for the ideal wine pairing and have started fine-tuning our salads to maximize the match.
The age-old wine pairing rule of “white wine with fish and red with meat” leaves our bountiful salads without much pairing advice.
As you know in your own creations, salads can include ingredients ranging from the traditional to the extraordinary. The wine pairing is less challenging when you consider the weight, and texture of the ingredients.
The more protein and weight the easier it is to find a match. That’s why the Cobb salad, with its roasted chicken, bacon, blue cheese and hard-cooked eggs, works effortlessly with many wines. Fruity, low-tannin wines are the best pairing for proteinpacked salads.
Salads with have high-acid ingredients like tomatoes, citrus and tangy cheeses like goat or feta pair best with high-acid wines like sauvignon blanc, Riesling, Champagne or sparkling wines.
Salty and pungent ingredients, much like protein, pair easily with wine. The classic Caesar with its salty anchovies finds a perfect partner in many fruity, sparkling or even off-dry wines.
The only troublemaker is usually not the salad itself but the dressing. Many of the bottled dressings (Thousand Island, ranch, Catalina) have a touch of sweetness that matches easily with wine.
Vinegar-based dressings can clash with wine; vinaigrettes with an olive-oil base work best for wine compatibility.
Over the past months these have been a few of our favorite wines we paired with salad.
- 2011 Ruffino Orvieto, Italy (about $10 retail)
- 2011 Kendall Jackson Chardonnay, California (about $15 retail)
- 2011 Kris Pinot Grigio, Italy (about $14 retail)
- 2011 Pascal Jolivet Attitude Sauvignon Blanc, France (about $28 retail)
- 2011 La Cana Albarino, Spain (about $17 retail)
- 2011 Turkey Flat Vineya rd s Ro s e, Australia (about $19 retail)