Which wines go best with a salad? | Wine
AAmong the ingredients generally considered to create problems for wine, salads – or, more specifically, dressings – are at the top of the list. However, this bias comes from a time when the “salad” was green with a tangy French vinaigrette and the wine most often an oak-aged Bordeaux.
These days, however, salads come in all shapes and sizes and are often the main focus of a meal. There may also be more than one on the table, so there’s no point in being too precious about what you serve with them. It is perhaps more helpful to think primarily in terms of wines that won’t work so well with them, among which I would probably put full-bodied reds like Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz, although even these work very well in the context of salads that include lentils or other legumes. Charred vegetable salads are also a game changer. For example, you might not usually think of drinking an oaky chardonnay with a salad, but if it includes grilled or roasted corn or butternut squash, it will be a winner.
That said, the wines I typically lean towards are fresh, crisp whites and rosés (think, for example, the classic pairing of Provençal rosé and Salade Niçoise). Sauvignon blanc, with its marked citrus character, is a must at this time of year, especially with salads made up of asparagus and goat’s cheese; it is also good with tomato salads (there is often an aroma of tomato stalks in sauvignon). Smooth, creamy whites like Soave and Chenin Blanc go with creamy dressings like Caesar salad; also revisit the unfairly disadvantaged Vouvray (see today’s selection). And aromatic white wines such as Pinot Gris and Riesling (especially Australian) pair well with salads with Southeast Asian influences, such as lime, coriander and fish sauce – Tesco wine below. below in my pick is a longtime favorite.
As for the reds, keep them fruity and not too long in the tooth. Fresh, youthful reds will echo all the red fruits in a salad, including dried berries such as berries or cherries, and lift any meatiness in the form of crisp bacon or air-dried ham.
If you’re a serious wine drinker and want to make your salad more wine-friendly, it’s obviously best to avoid very hot or spicy dressings. Even with a vinaigrette, a hint of cream or chicken broth will offset the acidity of the vinegar; herbs such as chervil and especially tarragon can also be helpful. Honestly, the wine and salad issue is grossly overstated.
Five wines to accompany salads
Extra Special Vouvray Chenin Blanc 2020 £7.25 Asda, 13%. Vouvray is no longer in fashion, but this off-dry chenin with a hint of honey. Would be perfect with a creamy chicken salad. Good price too.
Le Galet Sauvignon Blanc Loire Valley 2021 £9 Tesco (£8 for Clubcard members), 12%. Classic Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire, and way cheaper than Sancerre. Try it with a goat cheese salad.
Best Riesling Tingleup 2021 £9, Tesco, 12.5%. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve recommended this wine, but the 2021 vintage is still going strong. Perfect for a Thai or Burmese style salad.
Domaine Girard ‘Garriguette’ Rosé 2020 £12.75 Yapp Brothers, 13.5%. Magnificent fruity rosé from Languedoc produced, exceptionally for the region, from Cabernet Franc. Could take several different salads in its stride.
Laurent Martray Brouilly La Folie 2018 £206.40 a case (£17.17 a bottle) plus Justerini & Brooks delivery, 13%. Not the cheapest Beaujolais, but quite delicious. Ideal with a rare roast beef or a lamb salad.