Long gone are the days when a restaurant salad consisted of iceberg lettuce, perhaps a few carrot shavings (mainly for color) and a big glob of your favorite dressing.
As palates have evolved and Americans have become more adventurous diners—no doubt influenced by the arrival of new ethnic groups—the simple salad has evolved. Some barely even resemble a salad (taco salad, anyone?).
So, the wine pairing advice that follows must be taken with a grain of salt… not to mention pepper, assorted vegetables, various types of fruit and an array of “proteins.”
As is the case with most dishes, it’s best to select a wine that pairs well with the salad’s dominant flavor—be it the dressing, the protein or the veggies.
A dependable choice for pairing with many salads is Sauvignon Blanc. The variety often has a bit of a “green” edge to it, evoking impressions of grass, hay and/or herbs. It will complement, rather than compete with, the flavors of the salad.
Add a protein—such as chicken or turkey—to the mix, and you may opt for a more substantial wine, such as a fruit-forward (as opposed to oaky and buttery) Chardonnay.
If you grill that chicken or turkey, rosé-style wines—either bone dry or off-dry—come into play. The fruit flavors and bright mouthfeel provide enjoyable counterbalance to the “char” of the grill.
If you like to throw everything but the kitchen sink into a salad, there is a nice wine pairing partner even for you: sparkling wine. A salad may not be cause to open an expensive bottle of Dom Perignon, but it’s certainly worthy of a dry Spanish Cava or Italian Prosecco.
“Old school” salad fans need not despair. If it’s the dressing that provides most of the flavor to your salad, here are a few pairing suggestions: