Pairing Wine & Smoked Salmon

wine-and-salmonThe perfect way to complement your Irish Smoked Salmon or seafood dish is undoubtedly with a wine that brings out the best flavours.

Where does one start? Well the first thing to note is that wine is a personal taste and you may prefer to indulge in your own favourite wine (or whatever happens to be in your house at the time).

The one point to note is that wine buying, drinking & pairing with smoked salmon or seafood should be fun, an enjoyable ritual without fuss. Sometimes it is worthwhile to experiment trying different flavours and textures from all over the world.

Smoked seafood is best suited to off dry, lower alcohol wines. A Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Chenin Blanc or well made White Zinfandel softens and rounds the smoke flavours. This is because it balances out the salt content of the smoked salmon. The natural acididty of the Riesling grape in particular works very well with the fat content of salmon. A local favourite is our aptly named Madfish Reisling from Australia.

The unique art of Riesling is its natural residual sugar content, which not only makes for a great and interesting wine but its sweetness highlights the flavour of the smoked salmon. Note too that crisp acidic wines seem to clash with smoked fish.

The important thing to note is that delicate tasting wines should not be matched with smoked salmon. The reason being that the smokey flavour and texture of the salmon overwhelms the wine taste. Smoked salmon is best softened by off dry wines. A completely dry or oaky wine such as a Californian Chardonnay creates too much of a contrast in the mouth and sets up a battle of flavours in which neither side wines.

Don't worry too much about serving the same wine you cook a dish with. Another of the old rules says that you should be sure to serve the same wine with a dish if you've used it in the preparation of that dish. Wine is only one element in a dish and when its cooked it both loses its alcohol and marries with the other flavours in the dish – chaging it dramatically. Look at the overall flavours in the dish to decide what wine to serve.

A general pairing guide to use is as follows:

Sauvignon Blanc works well with sole, oysters and scallops

Chardonnay works well with halibut, shrimp and crab

Syrah works well with salmon

Merlot works well with grilled swordfish and tuna, as does the Cabernet Sauvignon 

Too often wine can intimidate us. Part of this is due to the tremendous number of choices that exist and part of it is due to the tendency to make wine too 'precious'. Wine is one of the oldest and most basic foods. It is meant to be enjoyed in context with food. Don't be intimidated. Hopefully the above will be useful to you as a guide. It comes down your own choice and preferences. Drink what you like. Its part of the joy of pairing food and wine!

For more information on choosing wines contact Clarke's gourmet seafood deli

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