The wife and I are going to a dinner Saturday and Smoked Salmon is being served. Looking for a red that will compliment the dish. Price is not a concern. Thanks for the help in advance.
Original Post
A 2005 Cream Cheese.
But, seriously, a Pinot Noir is the classic red for salmon. For me, this means a Burgundy.
I agree that Pinot Noir is best option for red.

Personally, I'd go with a buttery Chardonnay, or a creamy Pinot Gris from Alsace.

Why does it have to be red, anyway? Why not the wine that matches the dish best?
Pinot Noir is the obvious choice for a red. My first choice would be Champagne. Almost any white wine made will be fine, whether sweet or dry. I'd be hard pressed to pick a white wine that would clash with smoked salmon.
Pinot Noir, of course.

I could see some of the not-quite-dry whites of Alsace causing a clash with smoked salmon (Pinot Gris or Gewurz). I think the salt of the salmon might clash a little with the sweet in the wines.

Anyhow, white's not necessary, Pinot Noir is always the way to go with salmon.
A good light to medium bodied Pinot Noir is a classic wine pairing for Salmon.
The fact that it's smoked may mean you should consider a more earthy PN like a Red Burg.
Where's DJHombre? Grun can recommend a red Burg.
As WIML said, Champagne is also an option.
You can drink storm water with salmon, it's all good when fish is that fat. Without knowing the particulars,I'd advice to go with a mild Oregon Pinot.
Last edited by grunhauser
Originally posted by seanr7:
So which Pinot Noir would you guys recomend?

While I do like them with other things, I would avoid the Syrah-like Central-California Pinot Noirs. I think they might overpower the salmon a little. Many from the Sonoma Coast, Carneros, or Russian River Valley would work. Oregon would, too. So would Burgundy. There are too many great Pinots out there to list them all but if you give us a list of available Pinots, I'm sure we could all throw in $0.02.

DJ- I tend to agree with you, but for the fact that I would include Alsacian Tokay-Pinot-Gris as well. Still, both Champagne and Pinot are also classic -- and, imo, very good -- pairings, and I can't think of a dry rose or any good white wine that wouldn't work.

Like Irwin said, I'd urge you to reconsider white and go with a Pouilly Fume or Sancerre -- 02 0r 03, Just killer food wines. The acidity will pair nicely with the oily richness of smoked salmon. e
Jesus...let me interrupt the Pinot love fest for a moment.

As a chef in Seattle, smoked salmon has been a daily fact of life to me for the past twelve years. Alomost everybody drinks Pinot with it and, for a long time, I accepted that pairing as an article of faith. But finally, in 2001, I started to get bored with the combo, not to mention that the sky-rocketing price of the OR Pinots - along with the long-ago-skyrocketed price of Burgundy - made finding a good wine a problem if the patrons weren't able or willing to part with a couple hundred bucks for just their wines. Three other chef friends and I started a series of evening tastings of red wines that we all thought would offer the acidity, flavor range, and adaptability of Pinot and the results were astounding.

We found that Pinot wound up as MAYBE the sixth or seventh best match for SS, out of what we tasted, which was over 40 different wines. Three of the four of us, in fact, chose as the best match a $7 bottle of Primitivo and Negroamaro from former Hedges Cellars winemaker, Mark Shannon, called Promessa Rosso Salento. Negroamaro is a quirky indigenous Italian red grape that carries some of the flavors of white wines - the caramel, melon, and apricot end of the spectrum - along with red fruits like raspberry and cranberry and cherry. It's light in body, like a Pinot, and can be nearly as complex. The prices of the wines ranged from $4 to $75 and there was absolutely NO correlation between price and compatibility with the salmon. The $4 wine, a Rose of Cab from Snoqualmie, was a better match that the $75 Super-Tuscan one of us brought.

We found that Sangiovese, in appellations like Romagna and Molise worked like gangbusters. Tempranillo, made in the older, lighter Rioja style, was amazing: it's bitter notes played off the fat in the fish in luscious harmony. Barbera worked beautifully, especially the cheaper ones, oddly. And Gaglioppo gave an quirky, interesting counterpoint to the nuttiness and smoke. Nero D'Avola was beautiful with it, as was Malvasia Nera, lighter Zins, Northern Spanish Grenache, Australian Grenache, and even Moscato Rosso. Single-fermented Valpolicellas like the Masi Serego Allegheri Classico and the Allegrini Classico were some of the best wines of all, playing the wonderful blend of candied fruit flavors off the smokiness and fat like a little symphony. Even certain Beaujolais - most notably the Morgons of Thevenet, Breton and LaPierre - were real eye-openers, framing the textures of the fish in that lovely, chalky, minerally context flawlessly.

Pinot, though I don't like it much personally, is a wonderful food wine. But the current love affair, egged on by "Sideways" and WS, is pushing Pinot toward the same ubiquitous, knee-jerk acceptance as the all-purpose food wine that Chardonnay has assumed for year as the habitual choice of white drinkers. Neither makes much sense and encourages us to stop exploring and finding new delights.
"Pinot, though I don't like it much personally"

Apparently Pinot Noir doesn't work for you, but it works for most of us who've had it with smoked salmon. Your statement precludes acceptance of it for people who do like Pinot Noir.

I'm already a big fan of yours and I've read just this post.

I think the smoke precludes the need for minerality in the wine. So, if you do choose a pinot, maybe you go with a less traditional example, like the Argyle.

I love the notion of pairing SS with Tempranillo and Barbera, especially. I'm also thinking of a particular Carmenere from S. America that I now want to try with SS.

I always love to find a chef who knows his wines. It's actually a rarity in my part of the country (Oklahoma).
Welcome Waldo!


I like some of your points. I agree that people can have too much of a knee-jerk reaction to pairings, either due to opinion about a grape or due to classic food pairing combinations. And I'm sure that you found many wines that paired very well (many of your pairings -- Beaujolais, old, lighter style Tempranillo, Valpolicella -- all make intuitive sense to me). But I think, as a chef, you approached this question of pairing differently than I would.

Baujolais, Valpolicella, inexpensive Barbera, can all be good, and I drink all of them on a somewhat regular basis (esp the Barbera). And the wine you mention as the winner sounds really interesting, and I'd love to try it. But, I think part of this is a question of which wines, when at their best, pair well with salmon -- which is a very different question than "what makes the salmon taste good?" I think you hit the nail on the head when you discuss the need for the Valpolicella not to be a Ripassa or Amarone or when you mention that the less-well-regarded Barberas actually paired better with the smoked salmon than the more intense, barrique-aged Barberas. I bet the Nero d'Avola you tried wasn't Don Antonio or Rosso del Conte. My point is that, while there are exceptions in your list, most of the wines you mention as good pairings are decidedly NOT great wines. They have a cap as to how good they can be. (eg. The better the Barbera, the worse the pairing.) I think the reason so many people support Pinot here is that it is just about the only red grape that could produce a 95+ point wine and STILL be a good pairing for smoked salmon. And, especially when the original question includes the phrase "Price is not a concern," that is a component of many people's reccomendation.

I hope this doesn't come off as snobbish. I understand where you are coming from and largely agree with your central thesis. I also, however, happen to love Pinot Smile

Those are great points, Whiner. I suppose it's a form follows function argument from there.

Is the function to bring out the best of the Salmon?
Is the function to put the best possible wine with the Salmon?
1) What Stevebody said.

2) I personally like Alsatian Gewurz or Pinot Gris to smoke salmon, if I am going to have a white.

3) Forget for a second that smoke salmon is a fish. Smoke salmon is a powerhouse of flavors. There are very few red wines that can over ride these flavors.

4) I wouldn't pick Pinot Noir mainly because of the price tag of most PN. Once the oily smoke flavor of the salmon has destroyed your delicate $45 PN you won't be happy.
Well, I don't know either of them by the pseudonyms, but--if they work in the liquor/wine field--I probably know of them, at the very least.

I'm glad to see that I'm not the lone plainsfolk in a sea of West Coasters.
Sounds to me like you guys have the makings of an offline.

Sounds like a good idea to me.

Waldo not in the wine business, just drink enough it that I should be though.
I'll send zinner an email and see if he is interested.

Edited to add: if he's interested we'll take this conversation to the Offline section shortly.
interested- YES

problem is no BYOB in this Backward A$$ State !!!

i,m up for any good ideas though, it would be fun to enjoy some nice juice with some forumites.



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