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Salmon wine pairing - no French or USA wines


Mano
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I've been given a wine challenge to pair wines with salmon but they cannot be French or American. No information on how it's being prepared but it'll probably be grilled. I need two bottles at up to $50 each.

Here are my thoughts and I welcome all input:

Spain

Albariño

Verdejo

Tempranillo

Germany and Alsace

Pinot Noir (I've heard there are good ones out there but need direction)

Full bodied Riesling

Alsatian (Tokay) Pinot Gris

Italy

Pinot gris

Barbera

New Zeland

Sauvignon Blanc

Australia

???

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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Salmon prepared in what manner? That would have quite an impact....

Yes, and the host hasn't responded to my email asking that same question. I'll send another but may not be told as a) our wine and dinner group likes to assign difficult challenges or b) she may not decide until just before the dinner which is in two weeks. As of this time the folks assigned the two meat entree's are given no more information than that.

The hosts are fairly straight forward cooks so my best guess is grilled and not poached. Don't know about spices, sauces or other prep info.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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Artichokes are doubtful. I like the flowery/flinty counterpoints. Kind of like American oaked chard/chablis?

Any specific recs?

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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my ten cents:

Red: Burgundy or Pinot Noir

White: Pinot Gris, Brut Cava/sparkling, kabinett riesling and when all else fails a chardonnay is classic pairing

I'm a plant-rights activist... I only eat meat!

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Sounds like the main course will be farmed salmon. From the Atlantic? The rich wild salmon from Alaska and the Pacific NW are out of season. Last month I ate some winter salmon at a restaurant (against my better judgment), and it was definitely less flavorful than summer salmon. So I suggest you go with a white wine rather than a red wine for this salmon dinner.

I suggest any of the Rhone whites, or a blend: viognier, marsanne, roussanne (I know, I know, you have to find them outside the USA and France). Awhile back I tried an arneis at a restaurant and liked it so much I bought a bottle. This one, from the Piedmont, Italy: http://www.cellartracker.com/wine.asp?iWine=732848

If you think the salmon entree will have enough oil in it to stand up to a red wine, you could go with a pinot noir. Pinot noir with grilled salmon is one of my faves. You could also try an old vine dolcetto, another wine from the Piedmont. Dolcetto used to have a bad rep because the vines were allowed to overproduce so the wine was blah. But a well-made dolcetto, especially from old vines, can be very good.

Sounds like it will be a fun dinner.

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I think even a farmed salmon can go up against lighter reds. And frozen sockeye and king can be obtained at good quality (I prefer the frozen PNW varieties to Atlantic farmed).

Still I consider Riesling agreat match for salmon: if it's a fatty rich king I would seek an Alsatian; otherwise a flowery Mosel. Then again I'd pair almost any food shy of beef or lamb with Riesling! Even pizza wirh anchovy!

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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I'd concur on the Alsatians, but those are of course from France!

Australian Semillon, maybe? Torbreck makes one that is or at least used to be quite nice, at a very fair price. I haven't had it in several vintages. August Kesseler, from the Rhinegau, makes some really nice Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir), afaik they would fit the budget given. I've had some really killer Pinot Noir from the Bio-Bio Valley in Chile before, but they may be a tad heavy for Salmon--not heavy like Central Coast CA by any means but think warm-vintage Gevrey. They are (or were) very cheap though!

Italian Pinot Bianco could be a worthwhile direction to explore, too.

Sauv Blanc without much wood is a nice safe choice as well, though it may limit the fireworks.

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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How about a sparkling Rose, just to be different?? Segura Viudas makes a delicious Brut Rose Cava that might be interesting with the salmon. Pink wine and pink fish usually go pretty well together, and not just because the colors match. :wink:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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At the risk of getting my passport revoked ... don't use New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc! Although admittedly they were phenomenally different (clean, pungent) when we first burst onto the wine world stage, there's now a certain sameness to them and far too many are thin and mouth-clenchingly acidic. But if the decision does go this way, look for Martinborough or Hawke's Bay examples rather than Marlborough - they're a bit more subdued and interesting.

I appreciate availability may be an issue for you, but if you can find an NZ Viognier you may be very happy. We're still settling on a style, but the better ones (Millton, Cooper's Creek, Trinity Hill and others) tend to be fairly big wines which match nicely with the creamier manifestations of salmon. Our Chardonnays also work well with salmon, but Chardonnay's so well-known - you might want something slightly more obscure.

Good luck.

Leslie Craven, aka "lesliec"
Host, eG Forumslcraven@egstaff.org

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relatives ~ Oscar Wilde

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Finally received an answer. The salmon will be the first course and will be prepared En Croute with spinach mousse and a champagne chive butter sauce.

That pretty much eliminates reds, I figure. I like the idea of a Riesling and am thinking of a non French or American sparkler, either cava, Prosecco or a German Sekt.

Any recommendations for excellent bottles of any of those?

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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For an Australian Riesling, see if you can find one of these:

Grosset Polish Hill; Jim Barry Watervale; Annie's Lane; Brian Barry Jud's Hill; Petaluma; Cardinham Estate; Claymore Estate Joshua Tree; Kilkanoon; Kanppstein Hand Picked; Leasingham Bin 7; Pikes; Skillogalee.

If you can't find any of these by name, try Rieslings from the Clare Valley in SA; they're quite reliably good.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Mano, I think it would be nice to get a sparkling wine from a house that makes a vintage and non-vintage version, bring a bottle of the NV over in advance and ask that your friend prepare the champagne chive butter sauce with it. Then drink the vintage with the meal.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Mano, I think it would be nice to get a sparkling wine from a house that makes a vintage and non-vintage version, bring a bottle of the NV over in advance and ask that your friend prepare the champagne chive butter sauce with it. Then drink the vintage with the meal.

Wonderful idea but the only problem is the no French or American restriction.

There doesn't seem to be any outstanding sparkling wines from other countries. I'll probably get two different but excellent Rieslings.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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I think your friends may be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the sparkling wines from Franciacorta (Italy). Many think they are competitive with good Champagne. These are not at all like cheap Prosecco. They are serious.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Good suggestion for a sparkler I've never heard of. Found some here in PA but I may make a NJ wine run, buy three bottles and offer one for sauce.

Edited by Mano (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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Finally received an answer. The salmon will be the first course and will be prepared En Croute with spinach mousse and a champagne chive butter sauce.

A fatty fish in puff pastry with a creamy spinach mousse? This says chardonnay to me.

A Google search produced this recipe which sounds like what your cooks have in mind. (Is it cheating to tell you this? Sorry.) I can't think of any sparkling wine that would match well with this rich dish. Note that the champagne is seriously cooked down for the sauce. Substitute some chardonnay for the champagne and the sauce would probably taste better.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/puff-pastry-wrapped-salmon-watercress-mousse-champagne-chive-butter-sauce-buttered-new-potatoes-recipe/index.html

The cooks have chosen a heavy French-style dish and forbidden you to match it with a big white wine from France or California. Are they trying to challenge you, or what?

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Dear Mano,

Wine pairing to Salmon is mainly depends on how you cook it. Though white wine is known as pretty match for Salmon red off-dry and Sparkling wines go with it as well. For example, to me white wine is too strong with Salmon, I prefer light red, pink

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Thanks all for your input. I was ready to get some Franciacorta but none was available at the nearest PA Wine and Spirits store.

The two wines were a Hirsch Riesling Gaisberg Kamptal and Dr Hermann Erdener Treppchen Spatlese, both 2006. We had some wonderful reds, a 1970 Graham's and an array of Tokay. These two couldn't have been any different from each other but generated the most discussion followed by applause.

At only 9% alcohol the Dr Hermann was decidedly sweet with great acidity that spoke to its good aging potential. Initially it was not the favored match for the salmon but it quickly grew on us and ended up the winner.

The Hirsch had 50% more alcohol and came fast out of the gate as a more complex wine showing fruit, floral and mineral.

We're such a red wine group sometimes the whites aren't even finished. Both of these were gone well before the end of the course with a few of us wishing there was more.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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