When it comes to preparation, salmon is a unique fish. Poached or baked, it’s flaky with a delicate flavor. Cold-smoked or served as sashimi, it can have a buttery texture with smoky or salty notes. Roasted or grilled, it has a dense, meaty texture with a caramelized crust you might get from a pan-seared piece of beef.
No matter how you prepare it, salmon retains a slight sweetness, which complements both vinaigrettes and creamy hollandaise sauces. Salmon also contains a moderate level of fat, which adds a richness that other fish might lack. At 34 grams of protein and 18 grams of fat per 6 ounce serving, salmon is a deeply satiating main course.
What Wine Goes with Salmon?
Salmon can be fatty and rich or light and flaky, served as part of a salad or as a main course on its own. It can be paired with heavy sauces and light dressings alike. Salmon is, in fact, one of the few proteins that pairs well with both red and white wines.
Grilled or Smoked Salmon Wine Pairings
Salmon that is prepared with herbaceous crusts, seared, grilled, or smoked pairs well with wines that have medium tannins with spice and earthy notes, and can even stand up to wines with high tannins. Medium tannins offer a structure that matches the strength of grilled or smoked meat while complementing the delicate flavor of fish.
For grilled or herb-crusted salmon, we’d recommend our 2017 Diamond Mountain Estate Merlot. Its tasting notes include a “heady mix of ripe black cherries, fresh plums…and roasted espresso.” The mix of earthy notes and berries matches a smoky or grilled salmon quite well.
Poached or Sauced Salmon Wine Pairings
Salmon served with a creamy sauce or light dressing benefits from a good hit of citrus from the wine. Citrus and acidity (with mineral notes) adds a freshness that helps keep the dish light and zesty, allowing you to enjoy the cream and fat more fully. For salmon served with vinaigrette, the zest notes of a Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc complements well.
For salmon prepared this way, we recommend our 2019 Sauvignon Blanc. The tasting notes for the 2019 Sauvignon Blanc include the following:
“Soft, lifted aromatics of crisp white peach, lime zest, crushed rocks and honeysuckle grab your attention first. On the palate, the wine explodes with layers of tart grapefruit, fresh honey and jasmine. The flavors are concentrated and wrapped in a silky frame that caresses the palate as the wine rolls and crashes to a dramatic and lingering finish.”
This wine is a much-anticipated follow-up to our first white wine, and we just released it last month!
Additionally, our Moon Mountain District Chardonnay would make an excellent pairing with sauced or poached salmon dishes. With “notes of fresh squeezed lemon, tart pineapple, lime blossom, honeysuckle and crushed rocks,” our Chardonnay would provide the zest and minerality you’d be looking for in a salmon wine pairing.