Salmon: The Right Sauce Adds to Wine Versatility

david-b-townsend-fV3zTanbO80-unsplashDecisions… decisions.

Often, the wine recommended to accompany salmon is Pinot Noir. In fact, that pairing was the inspiration for a 1989 book titled, “Red Wine With Fish.”

That book, sub-titled “The New Art of Matching Wine With Food,” almost single-handedly changed the way people thought about wine-and-food pairing. Authors David Rosengarten and Joshua Wesson deserve a special place in culinary history for opening minds and delighting palates.

“Red Wine With Fish” made it “okay” for sommeliers to go “off-script” with their recommendations and diners to experiment with their wine choices. Salmon and Pinot Noir became the new “go-to” pairing for the adventurous.

Since then, after being given the green light to open our minds, we’ve evolved to the idea of selecting a wine to complement the dominant flavor of a dish, whatever that flavor may be.

Which brings us to the recipe featured here. It’s for a dish that’s easy to prepare, dazzles the palate with its texture and flavors, and offers something of a conundrum when it comes to selecting just the right wine to drink with it.

Yes, the fish is salmon… so the wine would be Pinot Noir, right?

Not so fast.

The recipe calls for each salmon fillet to be bathed in a rich chive sauce made with butter. Typically, a buttery sauce calls for a buttery Chardonnay as a wine companion.

What to do? As far as I can determine, you have two choices:

  1. Choose whichever variety — Pinot Noir or Chardonnay — you like best.
  2. Pour a glass of each.

I think you know which strategy I plan to employ…

This recipe yields 4 servings.



* 4 salmon fillets (appx. 6 oz.)

* 1 pint heavy cream

* 2¾ oz. butter

* 1 T fresh chives

* Salt, to taste

* Pepper, to taste


  1. Pour some water into a pan, add a pinch of salt, and bring the water to a boil.
  2. Turn down the heat, and add the salmon fillets. Allow them to poach until tender (about 8 minutes).
  3. To prepare the chive sauce, bring the heavy cream to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce the heat, and allow the sauce to simmer until it’s reduced by half.
  4. Whisk in the butter, and add the chives. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. For each serving, spoon some chive sauce onto a plate, top with a salmon fillet, and then add more sauce to the top of the fillet.
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Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
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