Bagels, Lox And Wine

Bagels and lox are two of my favorite things. If it were feasible, I’d probably eat the combo every morning for breakfast, but since I can only brave the wait time at Russ & Daughters every so often, I wind up using this dish as my weekend treat, when I really want to start the day right!

My preferred sandwich is a few slices of delicious lox, a slice of red onion, a slice of tomato and a slathering of scallion cream cheese, all on a toasted everything bagel; however, this is only one of the many ways to eat this delicious treat – I even have friends who enjoy a good piece of lox on a warm cinnamon raisin bagel with a schmear of plain cream cheese. These friends claim the combo of salty and sweet is to die for – I am still dubious.

Russ And Daughters
Daniel M. Silva /

Regardless of the way you choose to enjoy your bagels and lox, one addition that always makes this classic combo even better is wine. While the easiest pairing for bagels and lox is a nice bubbly, there are many other options you might not have thought of that are also excellent choices. Just because it’s brunch, doesn’t mean you can only drink mimosas!

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If you’re a fan of white wine, one of the best accompaniments to lox is Sancerre. The citrus notes and dry, refreshing minerality of the wine go great with the salmon, like a squeeze of fresh lemon juice atop the luscious pink exterior of the fish. If Sancerre isn’t your thing, you can also go with a nice dry Riesling or an unoaked Chardonnay. The only thing you want to avoid is a white wine with a lot of oak. Drinking something like an oaked Chardonnay will cause the flavors of the wine to overpower the delicacy of the salmon, so it’s best to steer clear.


White wine not your thing? Don’t worry, while a white is definitely the preferred pairing for this delicate fish, contrary to what you might think, red wine is also an option! In the red department, you want to be careful, as many reds can be tannic and full bodied, really overpowering the fish, so you want to choose a wine that’s lean with a nice amount of minerality. The best wine for this task is Pinot Noir. Quality Pinot has a great earthy funk while still being nice and lean, meaning it isn’t so strong as to mute the flavors of the fish. But be careful, not all Pinot Noirs are created equal, especially if you’re buying one for under $20. At this price, many Pinot Noirs can be sweet and syrupy, giving off an almost jammy character. That’s no good for drinking with fish. To ensure your Pinot isn’t too jammy, look for one from Oregon and, when you can, always try to stay above $20. With Pinot Noir being as popular as it is, yet so tough to grow, unfortunately it’s hard to find consistent quality in the wines below the $20 price point.

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