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The Perfect Pairings for Wine with Salad

Curious on how to pair your favorite salads with wine? Look no further: here’s a peek into some fun pairings for the “I don’t feel like cooking, let’s have a salad” nights.

When it comes to wine and salad, confusion can sometimes rear its ugly head. There are so many factors one must consider. First, there are the veggies, and then you have cheese, and oh dear… bacon bits.

Well, it turns out the key is in the dressing.

Wine with Salad Food Pairing - it's all about the dressing
When it comes to wine pairing, it’s (almost) always about the sauce.

Wine and Salad Dressing

  • Buttermilk Ranch: try it with a buttery, oak-aged California Chardonnay
  • Classic Italian Dressing: Match with a crisp, refreshing Italian Verdicchio
  • Caesar: This matches well with fish-friendly French Pouilly Fumé (a cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc!)
  • Bleu Cheese: Great with zippy, high-acidity Vinho Verde
  • Raspberry Balsamic Vinaigrette: a lively, fruitful Valpolicella Rispasso or Pinot Noir

Creamy richness paired with more creamy richness… mmm.

Classic Ranch Salad

Perfect Match: California Chardonnay

Why It Works: A buttery, lush Chardonnay will be a match for the creamy, tangy ranch dressing slathered on iceberg lettuce. Tossed salads are a classic “let’s throw together whatever’s in the fridge” meal. So why not pair them with a wine that’s very likely right next to it in the refrigerator?

Pinot Grigio, it’s time to step it up a notch.

Antipasto Salad with Italian Dressing

Perfect Match: Italian Verdicchio

Why It Works: A savory wine with high acidity and citrus notes, Verdicchio is perfect to go with an herbal Italian dressing. It also pairs wonderfully with the tomatoes, mozzarella, and cured meats you’re likely to find in an Antipasto salad.

Caesar Salad

“poo-yee foo-may” or, in other words… Sauvignon Blanc!

Perfect Match: French Pouilly-Fumé

Why It Works: With citrus and mineral notes, Pouilly-Fumé (or some other tasty French Sauvignon Blanc) pairs gracefully with seafood (even the anchovies you’ll find in a Caesar). Plus, its light body won’t overpower the delicate romaine greens in the process.

Never in history has iceberg lettuce tasted this good.

Wedge Salad with Bleu Cheese

Perfect Match: Portuguese Vinho Verde

Why It Works: Vinho Verde is a tropical fruit-powered delight, which makes it an odd choice for a big, bombastic wedge salad. However, this wine often has a slight hint of sweetness (and spritz), which brings out the creamy factor in bleu cheese, making the salad pop.

Vinho Verde is a wine region in Northern Portugal that specializes in grapes like Albariño and Loureiro, which are delightful alternatives to your typical Pinot Grigio.

Spinach Salad with Walnut, Cranberry, and Raspberry Balsamic

Perfect Match: Italian Valpolicella Ripasso

Why It Works: This well-balanced, fruit-forward Italian favorite is a definite compliment to this salad. With its dark fruits, cherries, and velvety texture, the Valpolicella meshes well with the berries in the salad. As well, it’s strong enough for the vinaigrette without drowning the more subtle flavors of walnut and spinach.

Chef Salad with Honey Mustard

Perfect match: California Pinot Noir

Why It Works: Pinot Noir is already a friend to turkey and ham: both in abundance in a Chef Salad. Its easy-going plum, vanilla, and spice notes with a soft acidity does wonders with the sweet and savory of the honey mustard.

Southwest Salad with Creamy Chipotle Dressing

Perfect Match: Australian Grenache

Why It Works: This lovely grape variety has the gusto to stand up to the spiciness of the chipotle dressing. And its smokiness, combined with red fruits and a hint of blood orange, mingles beautifully with the salad’s play of lime in the dressing. You’ll do well if you start hunting in South Australian wine country.

Greek Salad

Perfect Match: Assyrtiko or Verdejo

Why It Works: When going Greek, why not explore a fascinating Greek wine: Assyrtiko. This lean white stands up to oil and vinegar while being light enough not to overpower the tastes of the tomatoes and olives. The crisp minerality alongside notes of lime and beeswax offer enough flavor to enhance, without harming, this salad’s taste.

Chinese Chicken Salad with Sesame Ginger Dressing

Perfect Match: A dry Riesling (preferably from Germany)

Why It Works: To compete with all the flavors of carrots, ginger, and soy, something a bit easier and more open-minded was necessary. A light German Riesling will not only be complementary to this, but the sweetness in the ginger will match a Riesling like nothing else. For a wine with salad, this might just be it.

Fruit Salad with a Honey Dressing

Perfect Match: Sparkling Rosé

Why It Works: The bright bursting strawberry flavors with the bit of lively floral notes mesh beautifully with the berries, grapes, and honey in the salad itself. These two are a summer classic.

Who says you can’t pair wine and salad? There are plenty of other health-conscious choices out there, so lettuce know what you think of these tasty pairings and give us your suggestions in the comments below!