On Fridays, Deb Harkness of Good Wine Under $20 drops by with Serious Grape.
Now that it's spring I can't go by the fish counter at the local market without wanting some salmon. I don't know if it's the color, the freshness of its flesh, or the fact that it goes so well with spring vegetables like peas and asparagus.
No matter the reason, salmon is finding its way onto my dinner table regularly. If this is happening to you too, you might be wondering what wine makes a perfect partner for this rich fish.
Once upon a time, the rule was "white wine with fish." That rule doesn't hold anymore. To prove it, I made a tasty salmon dish and paired it with both a full-bodied white and a flavorful red. Both were delicious, as you'll see after the jump.
Salmon is a rich, oily fish that's loaded with nutrients and flavors. Its meatiness makes is ideally suited to a wide variety of preparations—and wines to go with them.
I made a salmon recipe that my fellow blogger Rick Bakas of Back to Bakas invented: baked salmon with a Dijon mustard and brown sugar glaze. It's super-easy, super-tasty, and super-good with some boiled potatoes with butter and herbs and a green veggie.
To test the white wine with fish theory I selected a Pinot Noir and a rich white varietal from the Rhone called Roussanne. It turned out that both were excellent with the food—and each brought out different flavor elements.
First, up was the 2006 Humanitas Gap's Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast appellation. This was a beautiful example of a cool climate Pinot Noir with aromas of cherries, raspberries, and chalk. The flavors were dominated by raspberry, with some pepper and mineral notes. The wine was smooth and silky, with touches of allspice in the aftertaste. With the salmon, the wine picked up the meatiness of the fish, the silkiness of the salmon's texture, and the spiciness of the Dijon mustard.
Next up was the 2006 Tablas Creek Roussanne. This wine was bright gold in color and had delicious aromas of hay and chamomile. The flavors reminded me of melon with a tinge of honey and some bright citrus notes. It feels heavier in the mouth than many whites, and has clean limestone and mineral notes that keep the wine interesting and lively This wine accentuated a totally different side of the salmon: its clean freshness, the sweetness of the brown sugar glaze, and the mineral taste of the sea.
If salmon has a place on your table this spring, throw out all the old rules your mom told you. Pair it with red wine, like a silky Pinot Noir, if you want to emphasize its meaty richness. And if its the clean, fresh side of the fish that you're looking to bring out, go with a full-bodied white variety from the Rhone like Roussanne, Marsanne, or Viognier. Whichever way you go, you're in for a treat.
Notes: I received the Humanitas Pinot Noir as a sample. Its suggested retail is $40. Humanitas Wines donates the profits from their wine sales to charities that address illiteracy, hunger, and homelessness. (Find out more about Humanitas Wines and their Pinot Noir at humanitaswines.com.) I pulled the Tablas Creek Roussanne out of my own cellar. It costs between $24 and $30 in today's market, and more recent vintages are available. (Find this wine at vinquire.com.)
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