Salmon & Top Five Wines & Beer Pairings

With the New Year beginning we all have our resolutions to keep, and mine was to eat more Salmon.  (Hey, I know, not overly difficult, but I like to set obtainable goals)  Being a red-meat loving carnivore, I tend to eat way too much beef, and by introducing more Salmon to my diet, I am getting a much needed splash of heart-healthy omega 3 fats to my diet. Plus, I tend to throw more greens on my plate, like broccoli when grilling or poaching up some Salmon.  Finally, Salmon opens up a whole new world of wine pairing for my daily glass of wine that I’ve allowed myself.  This makes my resolution simply win-win!  (As a side note, I know many Ontarians have declared eating more local foods, or going on the 20 mile diet.  As such I’ve included local wineries in each of our ‘best wines to pair with Salmon’. An LCBO CSPC number is given if the wine is available in the LCBO, otherwise you’ll need to contact the winery.)

Number 5 – Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most versatile wines out there.  With its crisp acidity, and tangy citrus flavours, it makes a great pair with salmon as it simply cuts through those healthy omega 3 oils drawing out the best flavours of the meat.  Pair Sauvignon Blanc with Poached Salmon, Salmon with Dill, and Salmon TarTar.  For Smoked Salmon, we’d highly recommend a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  If you want to go local, three of our favourite Sauvignon Blancs are Vineland Estate (LCBO Vintages 551168), Strewn and Mike Weir Sauvignon Blanc (LCBO Vintages 686972).

Number 4 – Belgian Wheat Beer

Ok, I know we’re cheating here by pairing beer with Salmon, but Wittier (Belgian Wheat Beer) is simply a star with salmon.  These beers have a tart edge, clean finish, and full orange, lemon and spicy flavours.  Witbier lifts all those oily flavours from the Salmon from the carbonation, and balanced with hops and acidity.  Try a Belgian Wheat Beer the next time you are at a brunch.  It’ll be the best orange juice you’ve ever had with the salmon, whether it is smoked or poached.  Our favourite would be Hoegaarden which is available at both the beer store and the LCBO 554089

Flying Monkeys Smashbomb AtomicIf you want to go local, you can’t really do a Belgian Wheat Beer as well, you got to live in Belgian to get the true stuff.  Instead we’d recommend an India Pale Ale.  If you’re brave, we’d highly recommend either Muskoka Brewery’s  Mad Tom IPA (LCBO 239749) or Flying Monkey’s Smashbomb IPA (LCBO 256172) to go with your grilled Salmon.  The hoppy and tangy bitterness of these beers will dance nicely with the charred nature of the fish whilst the citrus notes cut through the oils of the Salmon.

These are some pretty bold beers, so another alternative for a Muskoka Brewery is to try their Muskoka Cream Ale with grilled Salmon.  Their explanation is that “Salmon is a pretty oily fish and it required a beer that can withstand and complement it. Muskoka Cream Ale is the perfect complement for grilled salmon because the hops cut through the oil while the malt ties in nicely with the grilled flavour.”  Sounds delicious to us, and we’ll be sure to try it, and report our findings in the near future.  Muskoka Brewery Cream Ale is readily available in the LCBO and Ontario Beer Store.

Number 3 – Sparkling Rosé Wine

Is there anything that doesn’t pair well with Sparkling Wine?  We haven’t found out the answer yet, but we’re sure having fun at the What To Pair tasting labs.  Sparkling Rosé Wine is cheerful, lively and salmon pink in colour, which just looks delightful when placed against a dish of salmon.  These perky wines tends to have apple and berry notes, and a high carbonation to once again ‘lift the salmon oils’.  The LCBO has about 78 great different sparkling Rosé, but if we were going to chose something local, we’d pick 13th Street Cuvee Sparkling Brut Rosé (LCBO Vintages 147504 ) which has lots of ripe fruit flavours and a crisp acidity.

Number 2 – A Buttery California Chardonnay

Bogle ChardonnayWhen it comes to white wine, there is simply nothing better than a ‘buttery’ California Chardonnay with either a grilled or poached Salmon. These rich flavoured wines wrap themselves around each bite of salmon, adding their signature tropical fruit flavours to each bite. It’s a perfect marriage of royalty and harmony. These buttery chardonnays will also go well with Salmon prepared in a tropical or citrus fruit sauce, with coconut milk, in a cream sauce or for smoked salmon dishes.

One great pick is Bogle Chardonnay from California, the green apple flavours really cut through the oils, while the velvety richness of the wine merges and draws out all the great flavours of the meat.

If you want to go local, try Tawse’s Robyn Block’s Chardonnay paired with herb seasoned Salmon. This creamy Chardonnay has the bite of a macintosh apple to lift those fishy oils so the wine can seduce the tender meat within.

Number 1 – A Young and Vibrant Oregon Pinot Noir

If you want to experience the ultimate Salmon and wine pairing, pair a young Oregon Pinot Noir with either Grilled or Pan Roasted Salmon.  In fact, if you are ever in Oregon, trying their Northwest Salmon and an Oregon Pinot Noir is a must have meal.  It might seem odd, as the typical pairing for fish tends to be white wine, however, Pinot Noir is a versatile red that is similar to a white wine with its high acidity and low alcohol content.

This pairing works as Salmon is a rich fish, and a young Oregon Pinot Noir has lots of bright acidity to cut right through this richness.  With lots of bright cherry and strawberry, on top of subtle earthy and smoky flavours, you’re well on your way towards imagining a lip smacking delicious meal fit for a king or queen.

For Local Pinot Noir, try Stoney Ridge Warren Classic Pinot Noir (LCBO 156125), Tawse Growers Blend Pinot Noir (LCBO vintages 130989) or if you want something on the other side of Canada where the Salmon is fresh, why not try Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Noir.

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