Salmon spend years in fresh water and then migrate to the ocean. Some salmon go through fantastic body changes in this process. Which is interesting. Salmon are found in waters along both costs of North America; but some populations of salmon remain in fresh water for all their lives.
There are Atlantic salmon and Pacific salmon consisting of Coho, Chinook, Chum, Pink, Sockeye, Masu, and Steelhead, which are actually really rainbow trouts that think they’re salmons. The majority of Atlantic salmon is farmed.
Salmon are highly prized as food and prepare in many ways and consequently pairs up great with different wines. So wine with salmon is a must!
It can be smoked and served cold; when done this way is referred to as Lox.
It can be Sweet & Spicy, marinated with maple syrup, olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, ginger, garlic, kosher salt, cayenne pepper and many other seasonings and flavors. They can be subtle or complex the salmon is a fish for that.
Pairing wine with salmon can be eccentric such as with Syrah Rose, Orange Muscat or White blends of Grenache Blanc and Albarino or Viognier (French Rhone Whites or Spanish White wines)… Chenin Blanc with that sweet apple character or even Spanish Cava too…
But let’s explore a several of my favorite ways to pair salmon with wine:
A Pinot Noir served with herb-grilled salmon will taste expressly flavorful. Try not to pair your salmon with any heavy red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. It will over shadow the salmon. The Pinot Noir is a great wine pairing choice... just enough scorched earth ;-)... Especially a Willamette Pinot Noir such as Erath, Archery Summit and Domaine Serene
Chardonnay is big. Pair this richer white wine with buttered salmon. Chardonnay is a full-bodied wine that is full of flavor. A plain white fish would be totally overshadowed by this powerful white. But with a nicely buttered salmon; it is just right. Try a Carneros Chardonnay such as Rombauer, Cuvaison or Acacia is just right.
I also like Riesling with my salmon. The crisp, acidity of the wine matches best with the richer flavor of salmon. Worthy Riesling will also give off a citrus lime flavor that complements salmon. So if you are cooking up a more exotic flavored dish. It just pairs well with the spiciness of the cuisine. A Washington state Riesling such as Eroica or Charles Smith’s Kung Fu Girl are good profiles to reach for.
Pinot Gris is a bigger bodied white wine that sometimes can overpower white fish or shellfish but pairs fantastic with salmon, particularly smoked salmon. Again, I reach out to the enhanced textural richness of the Oregon style such as the Elk Cove, Adelsheim Vineyards or Chehalem Rieslings.
The united aromas of Sauvignon Blanc can bring out the taste of lemon-flavored or dill and capered seasoned salmon quite well. It also pairs well with sushi. Rutherford California’s St. Supery, Frog’s Leap and Rutherford Ranch Sauvignon Blanc with its green lime and grapefruit aromas and lemon zest and caper notes hits the spot.
Now if you are just not a white wine person, a smooth and supple styled Shiraz can act as counterpart to “fishier” fish, particularly salmon; with less fruit and a little more tannins and acid on the finish it can match up very well with a smoky cedar plank salmon. I like Australian Shiraz with salmon. Try d'Arenberg d'Arrys Original Shiraz/Grenache blend or d'Arenberg Footbolt Shiraz or Yangarra Estate Shiraz all from from Mclaren Vale Australia.
So these are my choices but by all means not the only ones. Salmon’s diversity makes it great for pairing with wine and when the wines meet subtle or complex flavors; the differences between wines chosen can make the dish an interesting experience and sometimes the unexpected wine does the job exceptionally well and I think that’s the feeling you are actually shooting for.