Come January, there are definitely some consumption habits we are willing to give up (wine drinking is not one of them). In fact, I would hazard to guess that many of us secretly look forward to reverting back to our healthier, pre-holiday eating habits and losing the endless amounts of Christmas cookies and decadent chocolates consumed on the regular throughout December. Heading into the new year, we’re looking forward to being lean and green.
One way to jump-start your resolutions is through salad, of course. Now the question is, what to drink with your greens? We’ve compiled a list of eight of our favorite salad and wine pairings to get us through January dinners and beyond. They say it takes 30 days to make a new habit. Why not make a salad-a-day resolution? With these lovely wine pairings, you’ll be able to keep that one right through 2017.
House Salad (Green Salad) – Albarino
The biggest challenge when pairing wine with salads is generally the dressing. Most salad dressings are vinegar-based, making them naturally high in acid. A key rule to always remember is “acid with acid.” Pairing a wine that is too low in acidity will cause the wine to be drowned out. Look to high-acid varieties, such as Albarino, for wine acidity that can match a vinaigrette-style dressing.
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Nicoise Salad – Dry Rosé
This French salad consisting of green beans, hard-boiled eggs, tuna, tomatoes, and anchovies bursts with a multitude of flavor profiles. A dry rosé from the south of France is the perfect wine for this salad; it’s light enough to mesh with the green vegetable components of the salad, yet powerful enough to stand against the fatty tuna. Provence is a great region to look to for dry rosés, though neighboring Languedoc produces equally wonderful bottles at a much lower price point.
Caesar Salad – Lightly Oaked Chardonnay
Creamy dressings definitely need a wine with a little bit of weight to stand up to their fuller body. An overly oaky Chardonnay will overpower the dressing and wash out the various flavor components in the salad. Look to a lightly oaked Chardonnay from Washington or Australia for a delectable Caesar salad pairing.
Greek Salad – Verdejo
The fresh, fruit-forward flavors in Verdejo-based wines are ideal matches for the high-acid dressing and salty flavor profile of feta cheese. Look to Rueda, Spain for delicious, affordable Verdejo-based wine options. For a more regional pairing, a Greek Assyrtiko or Malagousia make interesting, appropriate pairings as well.
Waldorf Salad – Gewürztraminer
Waldorf salads have a lot of flavor going on in them. Between the grapes, apples, walnuts, and light-mayo dressing, a gastronomic marriage of creamy, sweet goodness has been born. The highly aromatic grape Gewürztraminer presents a flavor profile of honeyed stone fruit and lychee; look for a bottle from Alsace with a bit of residual sugar for a delicious pairing.
Goat Cheese Salad – Sauvignon Blanc
What grows together goes together, right? Goat cheese and Sauvignon Blanc are one of those pairings that just goes hand in hand. The zesty flavors and crisp acidity of the grape mesh beautifully with the pungent, fatty flavors of the cheese. Stick with bottles from the Loire Valley, particularly Sancerre or Pouilly-Fume for a classic, unbeatable pairing.
Crunchy Noodle Salad – Riesling
The key flavors in crunchy noodle salad — honey, ginger, and sesame — are beautifully paired with a bottle of Riesling, specifically a bottle with a bit of residual sugar. The RS will complement the sweet, tangy flavors in the salad while also taming any heat or spice coming from scallions, vinegar, and peppers. Look to the Mosel region of Germany for your perfect dinner pairing.
Cobb Salad – Beaujolais
Bacon, hard-boiled eggs, chicken, avocado… is Cobb salad even a salad? While we tend to stick with whites and rosés for salads, the heartier flavors in this “salad” bowl demand an equally powerful wine. We definitely aren’t reaching for a full-bodied bottle of Cab, though a lighter-bodied, fruit-forward red is ideal for the fats and proteins packed onto this plate. Look to one of the 10 crus of Beaujolais for a deliciously perfect pairing. Pinot Noir from the Loire Valley is great as well.
Tomato Salad – Picpoul de Pinet
Tomatoes, onions, and vinegar are three of the most difficult components to pair wine with. Placed all together, pairing seems nearly impossible — until Picpoul de Pinet shows up at the party. Translating to “lip stinger” in the native French dialect, Picpoul is known for its bright, zingy acidity, making it a perfect pairing for even the trickiest of acidic foods.
Fruit Salad – Moscato d’Asti
Who said you can’t have your dessert and drink it too? The soft, sweet flavors of Moscato d’Asti are balanced out by vibrant acidity, making it ideally matched with the sugar and acids present in fruit salad. Watermelon and wine? What more could you want for your 2017?