What once was a mere bed of lettuce with some vinaigrette drizzled on top is now a centerpiece on the menu and an entree option. When it comes to pairing wine with salad, the approach is much the same as selecting which wine to pair with fish or meat. As we continue to learn the principles of wine and food pairing, there usually is not a single answer.
Salads are complex dishes featuring a range of flavors and textures. All components must be considered. Does the salad include fruit? What is the type of protein? Is the dressing light or heavy? And most importantly, what are the dominant ingredients?
Pasta salad flavors can range from Greek to Asian and include a diverse addition of ingredients, from salmon and anchovies to vegetables and even barbecued pork. The pasta most likely will take backstage while the flavor profile determines the wine pairing. Just as with any pairing, consider the weight and taste of the main ingredients and then consider your wine.
- 2014 Sean Minor Chardonnay, California (about $12 retail)
- 2014 Chateau Ste. Michelle Cold Creek Chardonnay, Washington (about $26 retail)
This is an easy pairing recommendation. The saltiness of the tuna and olives, the acidity of the tomatoes and the heaviness of the green beans and potatoes make this ideal for a refreshing, light-bodied dry rose.
- 2014 La Vieille Ferme Rhone Rose, France (about $11 retail)
- 2014 Hogwash Rose, California (about $18 retail)
SPINACH AND STRAWBERRY SALAD
The sweetness of the strawberry mixed with the bitterness of the spinach calls for a wine with good acidity but also a touch of sweetness, such as moscato or Riesling.
- 2014 Bella Sera Moscato, Italy (about $9 retail)
- Tintero Moscato, Italy (about $17 retail)
The Caesar is reasonably easy to pair as long as anchovy does not overwhelm the salad. Because of the creamy texture and taste, it pairs well with a light-bodied white wine such as a pinot grigio, dry rose or sauvignon blanc. If it includes grilled chicken, a lightly oaked chardonnay would shine with the smoky combination.
- 2014 Montes Classic Chardonnay, Chile (about $11 retail)
- 2014 Presqu’ile Chardonnay, California (about $33 retail)
GOAT CHEESE SALAD
If you have ever had goat cheese and sauvignon blanc in a tasting, you know this combination is a natural. It is one of my favorite salad pairings. The goat cheese has searing acidity and saltiness that pairs perfectly with the crisp, refreshing high acidity of sauvignon blanc.
- 2014 Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $12 retail)
- 2014 Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand (about $19 retail)
SPINACH AND BACON SALAD
This smoky, salty salad creates a complex pairing opportunity. Often this recipe includes a blue cheese dressing, making it all the more interesting to explore a red wine.
- 2013 Cline Sonoma Pinot Noir, California (about $14 retail)
- 2013 Reynolds Winery Carneros Pinot Noir, California (about $43 retail)