Salads can really pose a challenge when it comes to wine pairings. There are many components to consider when selecting the perfect wine for that bed of greens. For example, spicy greens like arugula and bitter greens like radicchio can create havoc with the flavor profile of a wine. A good rule of thumb is to stick with an unoaked, light to medium dry or off-dry white wine or rosé with vibrant acidity. This style will complement almost any salad. You want a wine with good acidity to mirror the acidity of the salad dressing. If you really enjoy an oaky Chardonnay, make sure to pair it with a neutral green like green leaf or romaine and top the salad with a dense, rich protein like lobster, crab cakes or roast chicken.
Here are my top 5 wines to pair with salad:
1. Sauvignon Blanc – This is a popular grape that grows well across the world. The typical flavor profile of this varietal includes notes of bright citrus, tropical fruit, gooseberry, fresh cut grass and asparagus. If you are searching for a wine with more citrus aromas look to New Zealand. If you love a Sauvignon Blanc with stony minerality, reach for a Sancerre from the Loire Valley. This is a great selection for salads topped with goat cheese or shellfish.
2. Riesling – An off-dry Riesling is one of the most food-friendly wines on the planet. This works particularly well with a southwest salad, spicy thai salad, seaweed salad, crab salad and bitter greens. A touch of sweetness is a nice counterpoint to endive and radicchio.
3. Albarino – This is a refreshing alternative to Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc that hails from Rias Biaxas, Spain. Albarino is a soft, feminine wine that often exudes exotic floral notes of jasmine, bright citrus, tropical and stone fruits along with a touch of salinity that comes from the terroir along the Atlantic coast of Spain.
4. Rosé – A mineral driven dry rosé is the perfect partner with greens drizzled with raspberry vinaigrette and fresh berries. Many rosés boast juicy berry aromas and have vibrant acidity.
5. Pinot Grigio/Pinot Blanc – When in doubt, grab a glass of light, crisp and refreshing Pinot Grigio or Pinot Blanc. These wines tend to be simple and straightforward with notes of lemon and pear and refreshing acidity. Pair this with a greek salad with feta and lemon vinaigrette.