As the transition from winter to spring happens this week-and it has been spring-like here for awhile-we’ll talk about spring greens and pairing them with wine. Salads in general are a challenge to pair with wine. Truth be told they are a large part of my daily meals and are included for lunch and dinner. Let’s take a look at what is involved in order for there to be a bridge between the salad and the wine: the components, the dressing and the style of wine. I tend toward bitter greens but my workhorse salad base is Romaine. Meats like bacon is a favorite as is grilled chicken or beef. If I am in the mood for cheese I’ll add some cheddar or parmigiana. Other add-ins include the usual suspects but I do use green onion as it is the most mild in that family. Dressing is either vinaigrette or creamy depending on my mood.
To match these combinations with a wine I consider the style-is it light and fruity or full and oaky; is it tannic or highly acidic? Look for lighter wines with salads-not necessarily sweet but fruity. Our Sauvignon Blanc and friends.white make great candidates for vinaigrette style dressings especially since the Gewurztraminer in the white blend makes for a spicy and floral base. Chardonnay is a nice companion to creamy dressings especially green goddess or even Ranch (homemade of course).Our Dry Rosé of Zinfandel is a great choice for salads with salty elements like cured meats, cheeses or nuts due to its crisp acidity. If you want to consider a red wine, I recommend Pinot Noir which is lighter in tannins. For a wine dinner I once paired our Pinot Noir with salad by roasting Portobello mushrooms with salt, pepper and olive oil. I used some of the pan juices from the mushrooms in the salad dressing-lowering the acidity and boosting the flavor. I also added shaved Parmigiana which contributed a richer element that matched well with the woodsy mushrooms. Your salad bowl is your palette, use your imagination with ingredients and the wine. Go green this spring!
Dungeness Crab Salad is a favorite to pair with our F. Johnson Vineyard Chardonnay-thanks to Gary Gross for the photo.