Salad is one of the more difficult foods to pair with wine. From bitter greens to acidic dressing, there are many factors to consider when trying to pick the perfect bottle. Instead of memorizing classic wine and salad pairings, remember these key tips when building your salad, or, selecting the wine to match!
- Protein in your salad should be the focal point. If you are adding tuna, grilled chicken or shrimp to a salad, treat the protein like you would if it was your main course.
- Fruit in salads, such as peaches, grapes or mandarin oranges, will be best matched with Viognier or Chardonnay.
- Cherries, cranberries and blueberries work with Pinot Noir and Gamay.
- When adding candied nuts, a honey vinagerette or dried fruits, make sure to choose a sweeter wine to match.
- Difficult vegetables like artichoke, asparagus, endive and kale are not a lost cause – don’t leave these greens out! Look for Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier.
- Vinager in salad dressing can make the acidity in your wine fall flat. Make sure the acidity in the wine meets or exceeds the dressing.
- Reduce the presence of vinager by adding stock or cream to the dressing, or opt for alternative vinagers like apple cider or rice wine vinager.
- Look to the country of origin of the main ingredients and seasonings. Feta? Try Assyrtiko from Greece. Olives? When in Spain, sip on Fino Sherry. Thyme? Find a Provence rose.
There are a few classics that have stood the test of time, like goat cheese and Sauvignon Blanc. Experiment with the basics and have fun with your seasonal veg. We have chosen some of our favourite salads from across Canada and paired them with our top picks for summer salad wines.
Beet Salad at Chef Bar in Calgary: Beets, arugula, toasted pumpkin seeds, orange, goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette.
The goat cheese is king, as the bold flavours make it the focal point of the pairing. For a Savignon Blanc, try Joseph Mellot Le Troncsec Pouilly-Fume. Or without the goat cheese, a cool and fresh Pinot, such as the Little Yering Pinot Noir.
Ceasar Salad dressing from Garlic’s Purity Plus in Edmonton: Find this dressing at farmer’s markets, stores or order direct.
As a first course, or a main with grilled chicken, choose a wine with some oak presence, either Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. Try Stag’s Leap Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc, or, Little Yering Chardonnay.
Mo:le’s cold smoked tuna salad in Victoria: Seared albacore tuna, red pepper, apple, peas shoots, daikon, cilantro, greens and poppy seed dressing.
Similar in style to a Niçoise salad, the tuna, greens and herbs will be best balanced with rosé. Either sparkling or dry, Bernard-Massard Cuvée de l’Écusson Brut Rosé or Saint Sidoine Rosé. Switch out the tuna for prawn or shrimp, and lean towards a Picpoul de Pinet or Portuguese white blend.
Bicycle Thief in Halifax serves Panzanella (aka bread) salad: Charred Asparagus, poached green beans, tomato, garlic croutons, roasted pinenutes, pesto Genovese vinaigrette and mozarella.
Velvet Glove in the Fairmont Hotel in Winnipeg classic Cobb salad: greens, avocado, egg, bacon, blue cheese
The blue cheese dressing is what commands the most attention. A kabinett Riesling is the go-to choice, Ulrich Langguth Renaissance.
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