Salmon, like tuna, is one of those fish which can be served as something else. While it may not be the other red meat, it is certainly has characteristics which set it apart from aptly named white fish. Taking that into account when creating your entire menu will open a world of wine possibilities.
An Exception to the Generalization
Red wine with meat, white wine with chicken and fish. That’s the old rule. Like many old rules, it has become convention because it works. Milder whites do not overwhelm the flavors of milder fish and chicken; the reds easily stand up to the bolder flavors of beef and pork. Salmon, being a fish which falls out of the typical “white fish” category, need not follow this rule.
One of the primary goals of putting together a meal—not only selecting the wine—is that each element of the meal should complement one another. Therefore, simply following the rules for selecting wines will not serve you if you happen to be serving salmon. Most white wines will be lost beneath the salmon’s flavor, particularly if the salmon is a flavorful wild-caught fish. So it is really in your interests to pay special attention to what you choose to serve with it.
So, Now What?
Knowing that salmon crosses the boundaries between fish and meat (in the culinary sciences, if not biology), what do you do? Well, another item to note is that while salmon may be more flavorful and complex than a white fish like cod, it is not as powerful as a fillet of beef. Wine must be selected accordingly. Yes, just another rule to keep in mind, but even when you ultimately let your own palate make the final decision, guidelines are welcome friends.
A Few Possibilities to Consider
Salmon will, naturally, work well with a white wine. Because of its character, it will take well to stronger flavors such as strong Chardonnays and oaked Sauvignon Blancs. Lighter red wines such as a Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, or even a Merlot will not overpower the flavor of the fish. Beware of exceedingly heavy reds, however, as the large amount of tannins may react badly with the oils in the fish.
You know how the rest goes. If a poach is the pre-plate destination for your fillet of salmon, by all means consider a white wine, or a very light red. The pure flavor of the salmon will adapt well to lighter wines. If the salmon will meet a grill or saut pan before your knife and fork, a light to medium red wine could be the best partner. When additional flavors are introduced to the equation, a heavier wine is needed to match them. Choose accordingly, but always choose what want to drink.
|Food||Wine (Best Pairing Listed First)|
|Salmon||Burgundy, Chardonnay,Pinot, Gris, Pinot Noir|
|Smoked Salmon||Chardonnay, Pinot Noir|