Top 5 Wines to Pair with Salmon

With every new year comes a resolve to get a little healthier for many of us. Whether you vow to lose a few pounds or simply lower your cholesterol, wine can play a role in your healthy lifestyle. There are many studies extolling the health benefits associated with wine and it’s low carb too! A 5 ounce pour of dry white wine has roughly 120 calories and 4 grams of carbs. The same pour of dry red wine has 130 calories and 6 carbs. So rest assured, you can have your wine and drink it too, as long as it’s in moderation.

In this week’s top 5 list, you will find some great wine pairing ideas for heart healthy salmon. Keep in mind when it comes to creating the perfect pairing, sauces and seasoning play a critical role. Salmon is a delicious fatty fish that requires a wine with substantial acidity to cut through the oiliness of the fish.

Top 5 Wines to Pair with Salmon 

1. Sancerre – Sancerre is a region in the Loire Valley of France that produces intense mineral driven wines with piercing acidity made from the  Sauvignon Blanc grape. This is the perfect companion for seared salmon salad or a mediterranean preparation with feta and capers.

2. Soave – This is a great alternative to Pinot Grigio. Soave is an appellation within the Veneto area of Italy. This wine is made primarily from the Garganega grape. It’s a light bodied dry white wine with fragrant aromas of citrus and stone fruit. The mouthwatering acidity make it a great pairing with salmon. Pair this smoked salmon or a lemon caper preparation.  Look for the word “Classico” on the label, this term indicates that the wine came from a better vineyard site.

3. Rosé  – It’s time to rethink pink. While rosés are made throughout the world, a mineral driven dry rosé from Provence, France or Germany are the perfect dancing partners with  salmon. I particularly love this pairing with a salmon salad over a bed of arugula with strawberries and goat cheese. Many rosés boast juicy berry aromas and have piercing acidity that make it so incredibly perfect with fatty salmon. This wine acts like a little windshield wiper cleansing your palate in between bites.

4. Pinot Noir – If your preparation and side dishes are on the earthier side of the spectrum  like a mushroom demi-glace with a fennel gratin, opt for a lighter red with higher acidity like Pinot Noir. Some of my favorite Pinot’s come from Burgundy, Carneros, Russian River Valley and  Willamette Valley.  For great values try experimenting with Chilean Pinot Noir, German Spatburgunder or Italian Pinot Nero.

5. Cabernet Franc – This blending grape of Bordeaux is experiencing great promise in America. It’s actually referred to as the Pinot of Bordeaux. When picked at the peak of perfection you will experience an earthy wine with bountiful aromas of juicy red raspberry, violet and sage. This is a perfect pairing with seared salmon with a Herbs de Provence crust and lentils.


Paleo Pairing: Salmon & Pinot Noir

Four days into my New Year’s resolution and I am still going strong with the Paleo plan. I have found that this plan is fairly easy to stick with as long as you take time to prepare ahead  The bonus for me is that The Paleo Diet allows wine in moderation and since I am a Sommelier, wine is an integral part of my daily living.  I am chronicling my journey through the month of January so I can introduce you to some great wine pairings for the nights you do want to indulge with a little sip of wine while sticking to your healthy resolution. Today’s recipe is a sumptuous meal that only takes minutes to prepare.

Day 4 Recipe: Seared Salmon w/Sauteed Spinach paired w/Pinot Noir


4 – 6oz salmon filets
11oz spinach
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp. dry white wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio)
1 tbsp. Herbs de Provence
1 tsp. salt (plus a pinch for the spinach)
1/2 tsp. pepper (plus a pinch for the spinach)
1/4 tsp. nutmeg

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees, then heat cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until it’s hot.  While the cast iron skillet is heating up, take 1 tbsp. olive oil and lightly brush both sides of the salmon filets to ensure the seasonings adhere to the fish.  I am personally not a huge fan of the skin, so I have my fish monger take the skins off to make the cooking process a little easier. Keep in mind that you don’t need much olive oil because the fish has plenty of fat already. Once you have a thin coating of olive oil, sprinkle the fish with salt, pepper and Herbs de Provence.  Place salmon in skillet and cook for 2 minutes. Flip the fish and place in the oven for 5 minutes for medium rare-medium.

After you place the fish in the oven, drizzle the remaining olive oil in the pan with the garlic and let simmer for about 1 minute to release the aromatics.  Then add spinach and white wine and  let wilt. This usually takes about 2-3 minutes. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Remove fish from oven. Let rest for 5-10 minutes. Serve over a bed of spinach.

I have a couple of great wine pairings for this dish, depending on what you are in the mood for.  I really enjoy a Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier with this dish. I love the way the Herbs de Provence with its notes of lavender, thyme and rosemary bring out some of the beautiful notes in the Pinots.

If you are looking for a white wine, I absolutely love a great Sancerre with this meal.  Sancerre and salmon are an amazing pairing! If you are going with this option add a squeeze of lemon juice to the fish and spinach. The bright acidity and minerality cleanse your palate in between bites making you yearn for another delicious bite of that rich, succulent salmon. This is definitely a match made in heaven!

Bon Appetit!

Wine Recommendations: (I am including the places that the wine is available for people living Hampton Roads, Virginia.)

Pinot Noir

Under $20

Angeline Pinot Noir, California – Shady Grove Marketplace (Norfolk), Total Wine


Novy Pinot Meunier, California – Press 626 (Norfolk)


Talbott’s Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands, California – Yianni’s Wine Shop
Chateau de Chamirey, Mercurey, Burgundy, France  –  Total Wine


$20 – Christian Salmon, Loire Valley – Total Wine
$25 – Domaine Vincent Delaporte – Yianni’s Wine Shop, Virginia Beach