Even though it may not be all that great for us, I think we all can agree that salt makes just about anything taste better.
Obvious examples include corn-on-the-cob, popcorn and roasted nuts. I grew up in a family bakery, and was taught by my Dad how just a little bit of salt could really bring out the flavor of even a sweet treat. I didn’t understand the science, but I couldn’t argue with the results, especially when it came to the raised donuts.
Another childhood memory involving my Dad was his habit of reaching for the salt shaker at the dinner table and sprinkling salt on his food — even before he had tasted it. When my Mom would see him do that, she’d give him “The Stare.”
But I digress. This is a wine blog, and when it comes to food and wine pairing, salt certainly is one of the enemies.
Salt may help bring the flavors of food to life, but when you try to drink a low-acid wine — such as Cabernet Sauvignon — with it, the wine will taste dull… if you can get much flavor out of it at all.
The same holds true for Zinfandel, Merlot and most other reds.
The solution is to match salty dishes with wines possessing higher acidity levels. That means mostly whites — such as Pinot Grigio, Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc — as well as rosé-style wines.
In fact, a rosé makes a great choice because it often will have the flavors you love in red wines, accompanied by the acidity needed to complement the saltiness of the food.
Another go-to choice: sparkling wine. Its basically neutral flavor and refreshing character serves as an ideal counter-balance to salt.
With the holidays just around the corer, chances are good that our salt intake will be on the rise. But even with a salty holiday ham, there’s no reason to avoid wine. Just make sure you have the right type on hand.