Matching wine to lettuce and herb salad, whose only coating is a grind of salt and pepper, is easy – almost any white or light red wine will go. Finding a wine for a salad dressed in oil or vinegar is a little more difficult.
Oily salad dressings coat the taste-buds making it difficult to work out whether you’re drinking wine or water while tartly flavoured vinegar and lemon dressings can fight with a wine’s fruity flavours making both the wine and salad taste metallic. There are wines that match dressed salads, but first you’ll need to change the dressing.
Malt vinegar mixed with oil produces tangy vinaigrette, but its high acidity can mask the delicate flavours of both salad and wine. Try reducing the amount of vinegar or replace the malt vinegar entirely. Red or white wine vinegars taste pleasantly fruity and match the earthy taste of red-leaved lettuce. A less acidic dressing can be made with lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil. Serve with light red wines or Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand or Sancerre in the Loire Valley.
Trying to find the perfect match for your salad dressing can prove complicated, so an alterative strategy may be to match your salad’s native home with a wine from the same country. Salade Niçoise (French green beans, onions, tuna, hard-boiled eggs and herbs), which literally means ‘salad as prepared in Nice’, matches its regional Côtes de Provence rosé. Feta cheese in a Greek salad works with any white wine made using the Greek grape varieties of Asyrtiko, Malagousia and Vilana. Italian Insalata Tricolore (the three colours being green avocado, white buffalo mozzarella and red tomatoes) matches light red Italian wines like Valpolicella.
If, like me, you like to pick your own English-grown salad from the back garden or allotment, why not pick a native English wine to match.
PG Wine Reviews
Louis de Camponac French Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
Light flavours of creamy cherry and blackcurrant with a bit of black pepperiness.
Chateau Changyu Moser, Moser XV, Chinese Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
An interesting find – and you’ll likely to be finding more of them as the Chinese wine industry cranks up production and quality. This lightly toffee and coffee tasting wine, with a damson-flavoured base, matches well to cold cuts of meat and more astringent salads like raw onion or coleslaw.
Dereszla Tokaji Hungarian Furmint 2015
£12.99 Virgin Wines
Not all Tokaji wines are super sweet – this fruit- laden dry version tastes of peaches, apples, pears and lemons. A nicely balanced wine that would work as an everyday house white.
Masserei Italian Nardo Rosato 2015
£11.99 Virgin Wines
A pretty pink with flavours of strawberry, redcurrant, lime and a bit of chocolate cake.
Les Chailloux French Sancerre 2014
£21.99 Virgin Wines
Creamy apple and pear flavours.