Thursday, 18 June 2015

Wine for Beginners: Wonderful Wines to Match Salmon

As summer slowly blossoms and we make the most of these delicious long, warm evenings, it's the perfect time of year to serve up a light, flavoursome salmon dish to enjoy (especially al fresco in the garden with friends).

With such a variety of popular salmon recipes out there, it can be tricky to find the perfect wine match, but never fear - there are oodles of tasty wines you can serve with salmon!

Here are a few ideas for you:

1. Smoked salmon

I always like to bear in mind that most of the time we serve smoked salmon with a nice wedge of lemon - and there's a reason for that. The acidity and freshness of the lemon juice cuts through the oily, fat texture of the smoked salmon - and that's exactly what I'm looking for in a wine accompaniment.

Try a sauvignon blanc - perhaps not a New Zealand grassy, in-your-face gooseberry number, but a more delicate French sauvignon blanc from Loire, Southern France or Bordeaux.

For example: Lacheteau Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, currently £5.99 at Majestic if you buy two (normally £7.99) It's citrussy, fresh and great value for money!

2. Warm poached salmon with hollandaise, beurre blanc or another creamy sauce (INCLUDING salmon en croute and creamy salmon pasta)

A classic, easy salmon dish with a classic, easy wine match. Creamy sauce and warm, fleshy salmon needs a round, creamy white wine. The obvious match is a Chardonnay - especially with a little bit of oak ageing to give it depth and vanilla notes. It doesn't have to be from Burgundy - a new world example from Australia, the USA or possibly Chile would be lovely too, as would a good Chardonnay from somewhere like Limoux in the South of France.

If you really can't stand Chardonnay, try a Chenin Blanc from South Africa, or a creamy Verdelho.

For example: Cave de Lugny Macon-Villages Chardonnay, £8.99 from Waitrose. Great value, ripe, soft white Burgundy - even better if it's ever on offer.

3. Teriyaki salmon

The sweet, salty flavours of a teriyaki sauce are not generally wine's best friend.

You could try a light red like pinot noir (The Wine Society does a great one called Zarcillo Pinot Noir for only £6.50!) or even a dark, just off-dry rose - you might find these from Chile, Spain, Italy or Southern France.

For example: Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir Rose, £6.99 at Tesco Wines. A fantastic value range of wines expertly made by the brilliant Adolfo Hurtado, this is fruity and soft and very easy to drink.

4. Sweet chilli salmon fishcakes

A favourite in my household, these have just the right balance of sweetness and bite, and the salmon just laps it up.

I'd stick with white wine here, and the fragrant, sweet spice of sweet chilli fishcakes is a beautiful match for riesling or gewurztraminer, particularly from Alsace, but also from New World countries like Australia or Chile.

For example: Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Alsace Gewurztraminer, £8. Possibly the best wine in Sainsbury's entire range, in my opinion, and sort of delicate, off-dry, aromatic and juicily-fruited wine that gets drunk far too quickly. The fruit and fragrance is a perfect match for sweet chilli sauce.

5. Blackened Cajun Salmon

This dish packs a punch and is big on flavour and spice, so you need a wine to match that, but also not to overpower it.

A red is probably the order of the day - something like zinfandel or pinot noir (again) - or you could opt for a hearty rose from the grenache grape.

For example: Brazin Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel, £12.99 from Waitrose Cellar. An utterly delicious, juicy, spicy red that really shows you what zinfandel can do.
OR at the other end of the scale Waitrose Ripe and Juicy Spanish Rose, £4.99. It's cheap, but it really doesn't taste that way - rich, red fruit and peppery spice.

6. Salmon steak with mediterranean flavours like tomato, rocket, spinach and olive

Mediterranean salmon is one of my favourite dishes - light, healthy and full of tangy flavour.

The Italians really know their own food best and make their wines to suit it, so opt for a white Italian wine like Gavi.

For example: Tesco Finest Gavi, currently just £6.49 down from £7.99 until 23rd June. Medium bodied and citrussy with lovely minerality - great at this price.

See more of our food and wine matches here.

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