By Tania Thomas
Among the great summertime pleasures are the relaxing patio suppers enjoyed with friends. Often, they are nothing more than a great salad dish, splashed down by a cool glass or two of a crisp summer white wine.
Matching wine with salads can certainly present a challenge. Luckily, if you know a few easy tricks, it becomes effortless.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that the acid in wine matches or is slightly higher than the acidity in the vinaigrette. With that in mind, a simple tossed green salad with citrusy vinaigrette dressing calls for a dry and crisp white with mouth-watering acidity to match it.
If you’re using creamy dressings, the weight of the dressing and that of wine need to match. A slightly oaky Chardonnay, Semillon and Pinot Blanc would work well.
Addition of fruit, nuts, meat and cheese turns a simple salad into a light summer meal, and then pairing this with wine it makes it more special. Fruit and nuts love zesty whites such as Albariño, Unoaked Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Verdicchio.
When adding meat, salads become more interesting as then they also match well with the light reds, such as Pinot Noir and fruity Gamay.
Pairing cheese is much easier. Cheese loves wine! If you’re adding hard, Alpine-style cheese, choose spicy Gewurztraminer with floral notes of Alpine meadows.
Adding creamy cheese calls for a crisp white with bright acidity and soft, pungent blue cheese works really well with an off-dry rosé from the sunny south of France.
Here are my top wines to pair with summer salads:
Beautifully balanced with a lovely salmon hue, fresh and floral with a touch of minerality and spice. Wild raspberries on the palate mingle with a delicate watermelon aromas. Sip away this lovely, food friendly and versatile rosé as an apéritif on its own, pair with grilled calamari, crab salad or my personal favourite; stay thru to the region and pair it with Salad Niçoise. LCBO: 229815, $ 17.00
DOMAINE LAROCHE DE LA CHEVALIÈRE, 3 GRAPPES BLANCHES 2013
Light bodied and dry, this lively and elegant white blend comes from the sunny south of France. It is vinified with 40% Chardonnay for structure, 40% Languedoc’s delicate native grape Terret which lends lightness, and the freshness of Sauvignon Blanc to round it all up. Well balanced with a pretty floral nose, and ripe white peaches and citrus on the palate. Great patio sipper or served with light summer salads and creamy cheeses. Best served at 10-12 C. SAQ 10324615, $ 13.95
OXFORD LANDING ESTATES VIOGNIER 2011, SOUTH AUSTRALIA
A full, round and complex wine, this musky, aromatic 100% Viognier brings a punch of citrus on the nose with its lime zest, mandarin peel and ruby grapefruit aromas. Palate delivers flavours of honeysuckle, quince and sun-soaked peaches with pronounced minerality and a rich feel in the mouth followed by a crisp buttery finish. An amazing compliment to shellfish such as scallops, crab or lobster. BCLDB # 402503, $ 12.30
VOLCANIC HILLS SINGLE VINEYARD GEWURZTRAMINER 2012
Grapes harvested from the southeast slope of a 60 million year old volcano produced this most enjoyable summer patio sipper. Just off-dry and refreshing, it delivers abundance of concentrated tropical fruit, rose petal with ripe pear and melon. Medium bodied with floral and citrus notes, rich on the palate with a clean, crisp, lingering finish. Best served chilled to 9-12 C, as a patio sipper or paired with the Alpine style cheese, to match its floral notes. Delightful! BCLDB # 644716, $ 20.90
PAMPAS DEL SUR, CHARDONNAY/CHENIN BLANC, MENDOZA, ARGENTINA
Fresh and fruity with lively acidity and delicate aromas of tropical fruit and citrus peel notes, this lovely Argentinean Chard/Chenin blend would make a great patio sipper or a worthy companion to any seafood dish in a creamy, buttery sauce. BCLDB # 621334, $ 11.95
This deliciously aromatic, medium bodied Riesling comes from the German Pfalz region, bordered by the Rheinhessen to the north and France to the south and west. Off dry with racy acidity, it delivers aromas of crisp apples, lemon drops and a hint of petrol and slate on the nose. On the palate, it brings flavours of sweet peaches, pears and honey, followed by a clean, lingering finish. Enjoy on its own as an aperitif or served with a summer salad topped with grilled peaches and sprinkled with toasted nuts. LCBO # 979816, $ 16.50
As a child, Tania helped her parents pick grapes in her family’s Croatian vineyards, and then later with winemaking. As an adult , she lived abroad in London, England, Milan and Venice, Italy, and explored the food and wine cultures while traveling throughout Europe.
While living in Toronto, Tania completed studies with the International Sommelier Guild (ISG). She continued her wine education with the prestigious, internationally-recognized Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), based in London, England. In 2007, she achieved the WSET Level 3, Advanced Certificate in Wine and Spirits.
In 2013, Tania was awarded with a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) designation by The Society of Wine Educators, based in Washington, DC. She is currently studying for the organization’s Certified Wine Educator designation.
Tania also offers sommelier services and tutored wine tastings, consulting and wine tastings via RunawayGrape.com and is a regular columnist with NatalieMacLean.com.