January is still in full swing and many of us are sticking to our New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier. Other people are sticking to the much more fun resolution to drink more good wine. Spec’s likes your style! No matter your reason, you’re curious about wine and salad pairings, aren’t you? That’s why you’re here after all.
Pairing wine with salad can be a tricky task, as salads can be infinitely varied when you take into account all the potential ingredient combinations. However, the key to matching the perfect wine counterpart to your next salad is paying close attention to the style of dressing it uses.
Here are several ideal wine and salad pairings to try today. After reading their explanations, you’ll have a better understanding of how to create a pairing of your own.
Steak and Roquefort Blue Cheese Salad
Pairs with red wine: Argentinian Malbec, Zinfandel, Shiraz
White Wine options: Champagne, Prosecco, Cava
A steak and blue cheese salad is quite possibly one of the heartier salads you could try to pair with wine. You will want something with enough sweetness that will hold up to the saltiness of the beef and blue cheese, and just enough acidity to cut through some of the fat of the steak. Blue cheese is best with ripe Zinfandel, an aromatic berry Shiraz, or a juicy Argentinean Malbec such as Viu Manent San Carlos Manent. All of these reds have ripe flavors and palpable sweetness that counter the salt in the blue. There’s enough richness and texture in these wines to balance the rich dairy. The stronger and saltier your Roquefort Blue, the more important it is for your wine to be ripe. If your salad uses less beef and blue cheese, and is a little heavier on the greens, then you may want to consider dry Champagne: Prosecco or Cava.
Grilled Chicken Salad with Chipotle Lime Ranch Dressing
Pairs with white wine options: Sauvignon Blanc, Caymus Conundrum White or a Dry Riesling
Red wine options: Pinot Noir
For red wines, what you want to watch out for are high alcohol content and tannins. When it comes to foods with a blend of spiciness, like a Chipotle Ranch dressing, low to medium tannin wines work best. Wines with too much tannin can accentuate bitterness and overpower this dish. As a rule, look for reds that are fruitier with a hint of spice and balanced acidity. A lighter Pinot Noir should do the trick. If you are looking for a white wine to pair with your grilled chicken chipotle salad, Caymus Conundrum White is a unique blend that’s sure to hit the spot. It has the body to stand up to a fair amount of spice, and enough acid to handle the creaminess in your spicy chipotle dressing. It also has the body of a Chardonnay to work with chicken. This crisp Californian blend brings your favorite varietals together in one fruity, yet earthy, sipper that pairs delectably with this tangy, dish.
Spinach Salad with Olives, Egg and Dijon Vinaigrette
Rosé / white wine options: Sauvignon Blanc or Dry Riesling
With a salad that has oily, and salty, components such as the vinegar and mustard in a Dijon dressing, it’s best to pair with a tart wine. You can take your pick and pop open just about any white or rosé from the Loire Valley and it’ll go great with this dish. We recommend Domaine Du Pre Semele Sancerre.
Many Italian whites have a mildness that endears them well to veggies and greens. Pigato (Vermentino) from Liguria has a pop of pepper to it that makes it snap with salads. Rosé is another great salad wine; since it mutes the pungency of garlic-forward dressings and gives a crisp, clean finish.
Kale and White Balsamic Vinaigrette with Cranberry, Pecans and Asiago
Pairs with red wine: Guidobono Barbera D’Alba, Pinot Noir
White wine options: Gewürztraminer
This is one of the lighter, and sweeter, salad dishes we’ve selected. Semi-sweet, acidic whites wines are an easy go-to for a Kale and Cranberry salad with white balsamic vinaigrette. Higher acid red wines will also make tremendous salad pairings; for these you’ll want to look to Italy. Piemontese Barbera d’Alba by E. Pira e Figili has an abundant freshness, yet with the robustness of the cheese and the pecans, the tannic properties will be well met.
Wine and salad pairing still got you feeling all tossed? Lettuce help you out. Ask the wine experts at your nearest Spec’s Wines, Spirits & Finer Foods for their recommendations.