Red wine with fish? Maybe
But the next rule we learn is that there's an exception to every rule, and this one is no exception. Fish cooked in red wine, as is commonplace in Bordeaux, demands a red wine to go with it. And fish that's not delicate white but oily and dark - bluefish, mackerel, tuna or salmon - opens up another world of red-wine-and-fish possibilities.
The affinity of salmon and Pinot Noir in particular has become well-known. Salmon is fatty and rich; Pinot tends to be lighter and more subtle than the bigger reds. Together, they break the old rules in a delicious way.
Or do they?
I've often enjoyed Pinot and salmon, so I know the match works. But last night, feeling in an experimental mood, I decided to serve a salmon dish with a red and a white wine so we could compare and contrast.
It was Sunday, so the fish market wasn't open, but a can of Alaskan salmon and an old recipe for salmon croquettes filled the bill, with a quick modification involving a nonstick skillet to keep them within our current hold-the-calories lifestyle. We opened up the Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio reviewed below, and got right to work.
The result? Both wines worked OK, but here's the hard truth: Despite the new conventional wisdom, in this particular pairing on this particular day, the white wine seemed to make the better match. The red was palate-freshening but almost too fruity and ripe to complement the fish; it was like pouring chocolate sauce on a salad. The white, on the other hand, didn't merely cleanse the palate; its flavors and those of the fish harmonized like a pair of New Orleans street musicians on a Dixieland riff.
What did this experiment prove? Not a whole lot. Maybe we "proved" the rule about white wine and fish, but the red-wine match certainly worked. But here's the most important lesson, and you can apply it to all things wine: Learn the rules, but don't be afraid to test them. There's no better way to learn what YOU like than trying it for yourself.
If you would like to comment on this week's subject, you're welcome to post a message on our interactive Wine Lovers' Discussion Group, http://www.wineloverspage.com/cgi-bin/sb/index.cgi?fn=1. Or write me at email@example.com. I regret that the growing circulation of the "Wine Advisor" makes it difficult for me to reply individually to every note. But I'll respond to as many as I can and do my best to address specific questions. Please be assured that all your input helps me do a better job of writing about wine.
Please tell your wine-loving friends about The 30 Second Wine Advisor, and invite them to register for their own free subscription at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor.
Two with salmon
Dark-garnet in color, this fruity red offers the characteristic aromas of Central California Pinot Noir - black cherries and fresh tomatoes - with slightly tart tomato-skin and cherry-cola flavors, so forward that it almost seems sweet at first, but it finishes full and dry. (Sept. 16, 2001)
Peter Zemmer 2000 Alto Adige Pinot Grigio ($9.99)
FOOD MATCH: As discussed, both wines went well with salmon croquettes; but in this particular pairing the white makes the more interesting match.
To make an immediate, secure donation directly to the American Red Cross for World Trade Center relief, there's a contributions page at http://store.yahoo.com/redcross-wtc1/. For more information about the American Red Cross, visit http://www.redcross.org. If you live outside the U.S. and prefer to support an organization in your own country, contact your local Red Cross or Red Crescent Society.
WINDOWS ON THE WORLD: It's estimated that 70 or more workers at Windows on the World, the famous restaurant atop the World Trade Center, died in the disaster. I understand that the New York restaurant and wine community is organizing a Relief Fund for families and survivors, and will pass along more about this when it's available.
Wines up to 67% OFF!
This sale ends Sept. 30. All prices are per bottle and F.O.B Ventura, Calif. Call (800) 777-4443 and guarantee your selections!
You are on the subscription list because you registered during a visit to Robin Garr's Wine Lovers' Page. To change your E-mail address, switch from the weekly (Mondays only) to daily distribution, or for any other administrative matters, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. In the unhappy event that you must leave us, please take a moment to let us know how we could have served you better. In all administrative communications, please be sure to include the exact E-mail address that you used when you subscribed, so we can find your record.
We welcome feedback, suggestions, and ideas for future columns. We do not use this list for any other purpose and will never give or sell your name or E-mail to anyone.
All the wine-tasting reports posted here are consumer-oriented. In order to maintain objectivity and avoid conflicts of interest, I purchase all the wines I rate at my own expense in retail stores and accept no samples, gifts or other gratuities from the wine industry.
Vol. 3, No. 35, Sept. 17, 2001