Which wines go best with main-dish summer salads?Pairing wine with salad is tricky business: Some lettuces intensify bitterness in wines. Crisp, raw vegetables demand a wine with texture. And acidic dressings tone down tartness in wines. But main-dish salads, full of ingredients with a natural affinity to wine, such as cheese, nuts, and meat, taste better with a glass of vino. As a general rule, match rosés, tart whites, and lighter reds like pinot noir with salads. And when in doubt, reach for a sparkling wine, because like salad itself, bubbly is light, refreshing, and infinitely satisfying on a summer evening.
Salad Topped with Spicy MeatA low-alcohol wine, such as slightly sweet riesling or fruity red Beaujolais, will complement a complex salad without fanning the heat.
Loosen Bros. Riesling "Dr. L" 2008 (Germany, $11) Apricot, lime, and spice
Georges Duboeuf Fleurie 2008 (France, $16) Light but complex; fragrant with violets and red berries (pictured)
SPLURGE: Smith-Madrone Riesling 2008 (California, $25) Fresh with hints of honey and a lightly spiced finish
Niçoise Salad with TunaRosé is a natural match for the tangy, salty flavors. Choose either still or sparkling—both are dry, refreshing, and evocative of the South of France, where this dish originated.
La Vieille Ferme Cotes du Ventoux Rosé 2008 (France, $8) Juicy, bright strawberries
Ponzi Vineyards Rosato 2008 (Washington, $17) Fresh, dry, and zingy
SPLURGE: Schramsberg Brut Rosé 2006 (California, $41) Ripe, rich strawberry and rhubarb pie (pictured)
Salad with Curried ChickenEnhance sweet-tart curried chicken salad with an aromatic white wine like viognier, a full-bodied white, or torrontés, a dry floral white from Argentina.
Luigi Bosca "Finca la Linda" Torrontés 2009 (Argentina, $11) Orange and peach aromas; lemon and apple taste (pictured)
Maryhill Viognier 2008 (Washington, $15) Flowers, honey, and nectarines, with a zesty finish
SPLURGE: J. Vidal-Fleury Côtes-du-Rhône Blanc 2007 (France, $17) Pear and baked caramel flavors
Cobb SaladWith smoky bacon, creamy avocado, tangy blue cheese, and juicy tomatoes, Cobb salad pairs well with a variety of wines. A bottle of fragrant gewürztraminer contrasts with salty, creamy notes, while an earthy pinot noir enhances the meaty bacon.
Natura Gewürztraminer 2009 (Chile, $11) Organic grapes; notes of spicy peach and honeysuckle
King Estate "Acrobat" Pinot Noir 2008 (Oregon, $20) Light and bright with cherries, violets, and red currants (pictured)
SPLURGE: Trimbach "Cuvee Des Seigneurs de Ribeaupierre" Gewürztraminer 2001 (France, $45) A drinkable perfume, luscious and rich
Pairing Wine with Salads
Summertime is great for fresh dinner salads and a cool glass of wine out on the patio. Learn how to pair these two items for a delicious, light meal.