Q: My husband went fishing off the coast and caught a rather large salmon, so we are hosting a dinner party and intend to cook it up on the barbecue for our guests. What wines should we serve with it?
A: With salmon, you can certainly shelve the old “white with fish” formula. Depending on how it is prepared, it offers a great deal of versatility when it comes to pairing the dish with wine. The richness of the meat and its texture isn’t easily overwhelmed like the more delicate flesh of many white fish. If you poach it and serve it with a butter sauce, it will go beautifully with a rich, buttery Chardonnay. But a crisp, lean, lemony sparkling wine will work equally as well, as it will cleanse the fat from your palate.
Grilling the salmon will intensify the flavours and carmelize the flesh, adding further complexity. Thus it will be complimented by a light- to medium-bodied red wine, such as a Pinot Noir or Gamay. If you use a rich glaze on the fish – such as one that is balsamic-vinegar based – a fuller bodied red is an option.
In the height of summer, especially if you are dining alfresco, a dry rosé is one of your best bets for grilled salmon. You’ll enjoy the intensity of flavour you get from red, while having the refreshment of chilled white. Plus the acidity in the rosé will be a natural palate cleanser. Stay away from rosés on the sweeter side. Among my favourite local choices are the rosés from Dunham and Froese, St. Hubertus and Gray Monk’s Rotberger.