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Wine Pairing With Salmon | What Wine Goes With Salmon?

By
Brad Johnson
Table of Contents

When it comes to crafting a delicious meal, there’s more to it than picking the right ingredients. Truly memorable meals include a good wine pairing, which requires knowledge about wine flavors and the sugar in wine.

Pairing wine with salmon is a great place to start, as it’s a relatively simple dish that’s easy to customize. But that doesn’t mean you should make a random selection from your wine aroma kit. Nor should you apply the same choices for turkey wine pairing, steak wine pairing, or wine pairing with chicken. The absorbency of salmon combined with the delicate chemical balances of any wine means certain flavors work best together. 

From aged wine to newer vintages, you can create remarkable meals by knowing the right flavor profiles. Continue reading for the details of an excellent wine pairing with salmon. 

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What Wine Pairs With Salmon?

Since salmon can be prepared several ways, there is no single wine pairing that suits all meals. There are multiple types of white wine and red wine types that work well, and it depends on the other flavors in the meal. 

To get the most out of your salmon pairing, it’s essential to understand the four components of any wine’s taste: mouthfeel, acidity, sweetness, and tannins. Let’s briefly cover each of these wine terms

Wine Mouthfeel

The mouthfeel of a wine is what describes the thickness or consistency of wine while you are drinking it. Viewed another way, wine with a thicker mouthfeel will be “chunkier,” whereas a thin mouthfeel wine will be closer to water’s consistency. Wines with denser mouthfeel also tend to have more prominent wine legs.

White wines are great for salmon pairing because they tend to have a thinner mouthfeel. They also tend to be dry and low in tannins, which accents the flavors that salmon takes on.

Wine Acidity

Wine acidity describes the degree to which a drink is sour or smooth. Alcohol is naturally acidic, but different kinds of wine are fermented for more or less time to create varying acidity levels.

Wines that have been bottled longer tend to be more acidic, and wines that have been in a decanter are less acidic. The process of oxidation is what decreases the acidity of wine.

The acidity of a wine plays a part in its optimal meal pairings. Meals that lean towards spring and summer themes, like a salmon dish with several herbs, should be paired with a more acidic wine. Salmon dishes that are baked, seared, or broiled are a better fit for less acidic wines. 

Wine Sweetness

Wine sweetness is exactly as it sounds--how dry or sweet a wine is. The sweetness of a wine is determined by how much sugar is left over after the fermentation process. White wines tend to be sweeter than red wines on average, but reds like Malbec, Port, and Merlot are on the sweeter side. 

Salmon is usually paired with white wines, but not all of them are sweet. English sparkling wine, Chenin Blanc, and Pinot Gris--all of which are commonly paired with salmon--are noticeably dry. Since salmon is such a hearty, savory dish, its flavors overlap better with the neutral, yet creamy delicacies of dry wines. 

Wine Tannins

The tannins in wine are responsible for the bitterness and plant tastes of a particular flavor. Wines with higher tannin levels have darker, earthen tastes and a dense mouthfeel. Wines with lower tannin levels, like rosé and white wines, are good pairs for lighter salmon dishes.

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With this foundational knowledge, you’ll be able to select great wine for just about any meal. You can also consult our types of wine chart for details on multiple wine varietals.

Learning about wine flavor characteristics is only the beginning, though. Developing a knockout meal includes knowing what professionals or a sommelier would choose. Keep reading for recommendations on which wines go well with salmon preparations. 

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Smoked Salmon Wine Pairing

If you’re gearing up for some smoked salmon, there are several wine pairings at your disposal. One of the most popular is Blanc de blancs champagne, a type of Chardonnay. 

Any Chardonnay is going to have a medium-to-full mouthfeel, moderate acidity and tannins, and higher level of dryness. The Blanc de blancs variety offers more of a salty, bready, minerality that complements smoked meats incredibly well. 

Another great selection is a manzanilla Sherry, which is an additional dry white wine that is made in Spain. The manzanilla is a low acid wine that offers floral aromas and botanical flavors, like almond and chamomile. 

Grilled Salmon Wine Pairing

When pairing a wine with grilled salmon, there’s no flavor more classic than Pinot Noir. This wine has a light-to-medium mouthfeel, strong acidity, and a wine alcohol content between 12-15%.

Pinot Noir’s intricate flavor profile, including forest floor and cherry, effortlessly matches grilled salmon’s rich and oily texture. Since it’s made from black wine grapes and has high tannin content, its darker taste creates a natural balance with the char from the grill. 

Sweetened Salmon Wine Pairing

When it comes to sweeter salmon variations including miso or ginger, your best bet is going to be a Riesling or Pinot Gris. Riesling is a German white wine that has crisp fruit flavors, like pear, apple, and peach. It’s a highly acidic wine, making it a great match for tangy recipes. 

Best Wine To Pair With Salmon

While there’s no single best wine to pair with salmon, in most cases, an oak-aged Chardonnay is going to be an optimal fit. The naturally-occurring flavors of pineapple, mango, and apple, notes of vanilla, and smooth body of Chardonnay match the delicate, buttery texture of salmon. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Wine Pairing With Salmon

Pairing wines with specific meals is no easy feat. If the countless flavor details have you asking more questions, we have you covered. We researched some of the most frequently asked questions about how to pair wine with salmon. Take a look at our answers below: 

Do you drink white or red wine with salmon?

You can drink white or red wine with salmon; there’s no right or wrong answer. Many people have enjoyed the full-bodied, acidic, oaky flavor of a Chardonnay with various salmon dishes. On the red wine side, the fruity aroma of a Burgundy is enough to complement salmon without overpowering it. 

What red wine goes with salmon?

If you need a good red wine for your salmon, Pinot Noir is the most popular. The earthen, rich flavor profile of this light red wine lends itself to grilled or broiled salmon. Pinot Noir is popular with lighter dishes because it offers subtle, fruity scents and flavors that wouldn’t be detected alongside heavier meals. 

What drinks pair well with salmon?

Ultimately the drinks that pair well with salmon are a matter of personal preference, but if you’re looking for recommendations, we don’t blame you. Here’s a general list of popular wine and drink pairings for salmon dishes: 

  • Chardonnay
  • Pinot Noir
  • ​​Torrontés
  • Malt whisky
  • Dry rosé
  • Grenache
  • Vodka 
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Hip, Hip, Hooray for a Good Chardonnay

Developing a sense for which wines go with specific meals takes time and thought. While you may enjoy the recommendations others provide, it’s equally likely you’ll discover a tasteful pairing of your own. Use this blog post as a way to get started, but remember that some of the most powerful flavor combinations are discovered through adventure.