As you start to make dinner, you might wonder if your bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon will go well with salmon. The short answer: no, salmon and Cabernet Sauvignon are not an ideal food and wine pairing.
Now let’s explain why this pairing does not work well and some alternatives to enjoy.
Cabernet Sauvignon Food Pairing: How It Works
In general, Cabernet Sauvignon is a full-bodied red wine with plenty of tannins. As a result, this type of red wine traditionally goes with beef, steak, aged cheese, and Portobello mushrooms. These food wine pairings work well because the wine and food are equally matched in terms of richness. When you drink Cabernet Sauvignon with salmon, you will probably have an unbalanced experience. Put another way; the wine is much stronger than the salmon. Potentially, you might be able to make this food wine pairing work by adding some robust sauce to the salmon.
As a result, you will probably miss out on the salmon’s flavor. It is like trying to listen to people whisper during a concert – it might be possible to catch a few words here and there, but it will be frustrating to attempt to hear the music and conversation simultaneously.
That said, if you love Cabernet Sauvignon and want to drink it with everything, go right ahead and drink whatever you desire. This article aims to give you ideas and inspiration to take your eating and drinking experience to the next level.
If You Have Salmon, Start With These White Wines
Let’s say that you have some fresh salmon and you’ve been looking forward to preparing it for dinner. Assuming you have some time to select a wine to match your salmon, use the following tips to get started.
Tip 1: Find Out How The Salmon Will Be Served
It is tricky to pair good and wine effectively without knowing the details of the food preparation. With pasta, you would want to know whether or not a tomato sauce would be involved because that can influence the pairing. With salmon specifically, I would want to know if the salmon will be cooked, served cold and whether there will be sauces or spices. If the salmon has additional flavor from spices or oil, you might be able to venture beyond a white wine pairing.
Tip 2: Start Your Salmon Wine Pairing With White Wines
If you choose a white wine, your salmon and wine pairing mission is nearly complete. Specifically, I recommend three white wines to pair with salmon: oak-aged chardonnay wines, a white burgundy, or a viognier. The oak aging effect changes the wine’s flavor to add more of a buttery or vanilla taste.
Tip: If the wine description or review mentions that the white wine has more of a mineral character, it may not be oaked. It would help if you also looked for wine reviews and descriptions. Suppose the descriptions and reviews mention aging or fermentation in stainless steel. In that case, there will be no oak influence on the wine.
Compared to oak, steel does not add much to the wine. For example, most of the chardonnay I have had from Ontario is unoaked, while most of the chardonnay I’ve had from California is oaked. Therefore, I would generally prefer California over Ontario when choosing a chardonnay to go with salmon.
Tip 3: Experiment With Red Wine Pairings
Some wine lovers are not content to use tried and tested pairings. If you are more advanced or adventurous in your wine appreciation, you might consider branching out to red wines.
While a white wine pairing is usually best with salmon, there are some other options. Use these suggestions if you are looking to experiment and push your boundaries. Look for a lighter red wine such as Gamay red wine (e.g., the Beaujolais red wine from France) or the Valpolicella blend.
You can also use wine labels and reviews as a resource to guide your food and wine pairing. Specifically, look for commentary that shows that the red wine has relatively light or minimal tannins. It might take several attempts before you find a red wine that pairs well with salmon. Fortunately, there is one more option we haven’t covered yet.
The Best Way To Have Salmon and Cabernet Sauvignon Together
Most food wine pairing tips assume that you are going to have a single course meal. However, if you are having a larger meal or a dinner party, you have the option to explore multiple wines throughout the evening.
Let’s assume that you are planning a meal with multiple courses. You might start with a salad course, move to salmon before having beef as the main course. For example, you might have a salmon with chardonnay wine (if you are a fan of red wines, you might experiment here with a lighter red wine like a Pinot Noir).
Later on, you might have a small glass of dessert wine such as a Canadian ice wine or a fortified wine from Portugal (i.e., port). By adding several courses to your meal, you can enjoy your salmon and Cabernet Sauvignon in the same evening but still pair each of them with their ideal partners. Drinking several wines throughout an evening can be fun, but I recommend doing it as an occasional indulgence only.
In a dinner party setting, you and your friends might not finish off every wine bottle. IF you face this situation, check out my tips: “Does Wine Go Bad? (Yes and Three Ways To Stop It).” The good news is that wine will stay in good shape for at least a few days after being opened if it is kept chilled.
Find Out More About Cabernet Sauvignon
When you get into wine tasting, it can be tough to understand wines in the abstract. That is why I favor comparing wines. To help red wine lovers understand two of the most popular red wines, check out my post: Cabernet Sauvignon vs. Merlot. You will find six things every wine beginner needs to know about these two giants of the red wine world.