Pairing Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir is often considered to be the most food-friendly and versatile red wine that is highly available. The reasoning behind this theory is because of the delicate and feminine nature of the wine which allows it to pair well with several styles of food. Because the wine is light in nature, many non-red wine drinkers will often be persuaded to try Pinot Noir as their first step in trying to appreciate red wines and often find out that it is not too bad. Pinot Noir is widely grown around the world and it particularly thrives in cooler regions. By far the most popular and in many instances the most expensive area is the Burgundy region of France. In addition the wine thrives in Oregon, California, and New Zealand just to name a few. Pinot Noir (along with Pinot Meunier and sometimes Chardonnay) is also used to produce Champagne and sparkling wines.
The wine itself tends to be light to medium-bodied with many looking somewhat translucent with just a slight tint of red. It is usually high in acid and low in tannins and has aromas of black cherry, raspberries, and currant. The wine can also have an earthy element to it especially when those grapes are grown in Burgundy or Oregon. Therefore, these wines can pair well with earthy ingredients.
The grape itself is known to be very finicky by nature and thus can produce some life-changing tasting experiences, and then some I-would-rather-spit-this-out experiences as well. However the versatility of the varietal is perfect for sharing a bottle at a restaurant when one is eating fish and the other meat. Let’s take a look below comparing lighter and fruitier to bigger and more elegant styles. That being said, just because a Pinot Noir is on the light and fruity side does not mean it cannot still be elegant at the same time.
Light and Fruity Pinot Noir
As mentioned above, Pinot Noir is quite the versatile red wine. When considering lighter Pinots, think lighter foods. Salmon and tuna are two seafood favorites that come to mind and a planked grilled salmon with a hint of sweet BBQ sauce can be an ideal pairing. When considering poultry, chicken breast with rosemary and thyme, and duck breast that features sweet sauce like Beijing’s most popular dish, Peking Duck, can be a spot on pairing.
There are also great pairings to start a meal and end a meal. A charcuterie plate that includes pates that also features a variety of ham and other cold meats can be a great way to start any meal. Ending a meal with a cheese plate that includes cheddar, gouda or brie will make the wine and cheese sing in perfect harmony.
Bigger and Elegant Pinot Noir
Many times these Pinot Noirs will have an added earthy element to the mix of characteristics. That being said, what is earthier than mushrooms or truffles? Think of simple roasted mushrooms with herbs, or a risotto with truffles and parmesan as a side to compliment a protein. Speaking of protein, consider slightly heavier versions than you would with the light and fruity Pinots. Think pork tenderloin with garlic, rack of lamb on the rare side and even grilled lobster that is accompanied with a sauce made with the wine itself. The bottom line is the bigger the Pinot Noir, the bigger and bolder the food pairings can be.
Although Pinot Noir can match up to many of the same things a Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon can match up to, steaks that are fattier like a ribeye would probably not be the best choice. The Pinot Noir will be lost in the steak, which requires a wine that has a little more tannic backbone like a Cabernet.