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How to Make a Wine-friendly Salad

You often hear that you cannot have your salad and your important wine, too! Well, this is because the acid in the vinegar of a simple salad destroys your palate for the wine. 
Sure, certain acidic foods make pairing difficult and of course, you want to put your top wines with dishes that showcase them the best. But by following a few simple rules, great wines pair with salad beautifully.
With salads being both an important part of our cuisine and popular, there is no reason to give them up just because you don't think you can pair your wine with salad. 
Author: Denise Pardini, Hotel Castello di Sinio


The rules to create wine-friendly salads:

  • The first thing to remember is that acid is the foe of wine and fat or meatiness is often its friend. This is true of white wine as well. 
  • Always think COMPOSED SALAD, something invented by the French who are pretty avid about their wine, too. Don't think simple salad of only leafy greens with maybe tomatoes, oil, and vinegar. 
  • Add some kind of PROTEIN to give the salad balance and some substance. Think of things like egg, meat, bacon, cheese, nuts, olives, and even fatty fish, which on their own might be paired with your favorite Barbaresco or Brunello.
  • Add some FAT to give balance to the vinaigrette and the acid in your wine. Again, items like cheese, nuts, olives, creamy dressings with a base of mayonnaise, mascarpone, or crème Fraiche gives unctuousness and creates something on your palate to be refreshed by a Burgundy or Chateauneuf du Pape.
  • Smokiness as in smoked trout, or smoked duck breast, or even smoked cheese gives another layer of complexity to help balance and gives foil to your Bordeaux.
  • Adding high pectin fruits adds further complexity and balance, which plays well with your nebbiolo or Valpolicella.
  • Make a vinaigrette with lower acidity and more complexity creates a terrific pairing for even your most important wines. For instance, you would think a lemon vinaigrette would destroy a wine, but by using preserved lemons that have mellowed from being salted and placed under oil gives you that great lemon FLAVOR without any of the acidity. Plus pairing it in a salad placed next to your Vitello Tonnato gives you a complex and interesting COMPOSED salad to go with your complex, interesting 1997 Barolo!


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