By Andrea Pollock
As the warm weather approaches I am eating more salads and fewer soups. Since I associate my wine choices most of the time with the food that I am eating, I will be doing some cellar stocking in the next little while with some wonderful wines to pair with summer salads.
Salads are a fast, versatile accompaniment to any meal, and I find they are also a great way to incorporate leftovers and extras in the kitchen. I try to make my own salad dressings most of the time. One of my favourite dressings recently is a mixture of honey, white vinegar, a smidge of grainy Dijon mustard, light olive oil and a touch of salt. It can match really nicely with a busy salad that has lots of veggies, nuts and other flavours – it is also a dressing that stands out quite well in a very simple salad of mixed greens. In simple basic salads without much flair, a Pinot Grigio has great potential as a good pairing – differences in sweetness, and the mild flavours of the varietal have a chance to show against many other types of flavour: the bitter/earthy flavours of the greens, the sweetness of the honey, and the savouriness of the salt and olive oil and mustard. In a complex salad with an abundance of ingredients and flavour, a simple dressing such as this can be paired with a light fruity white wine that shows a bit of sweetness.
Salads aren’t only meant for white wines, there are many light red wines with minimal tannins. Summer salads filled with beets, cranberries, carrots, endive, mushrooms and so much more, can help to highlight warm, earthy and red fruit aspects that are typical of light salad friendly red varietals such as Gamay Noir, White Zinfandel or lovely a East Coast Marechal Foch. An easy way to choose red wines that are light in tannins is to pick a red that has a very light colour – a bottle you could see your fingers wiggle behind. Sweet style pink wines like a white zinfandel can highlight fruit filled salads quite well, try adding strawberries, blueberries and watermelon if you are looking to match wine and food flavours.
Wines of the week
Fish Eye Chardonnay 2008 – [California]
A refreshing nose that pops with mandarin orange, pineapple flesh and potted flowers. The wine has a brightness when it hits the tongue matched with a smooth, full flavour of oaky citrus and toasted corn. Enjoyable by itself or would be an elegant touch to many meals – try this with a nice roasted chicken or for lunch with a turkey BLT. 91/100 (April 22, 2011)
Graffigna Reserve Pinot Grigio 2009 – [Argentina]
A strong aroma of lemon peel and white teachers chalk. Tang fruit and flavours of soda fill out this wine. A dry style that is easy to enjoy by itself and could pair nicely with grilled Panini sandwiches or hummus and pita. 80/100 (May 1, 2011)