Oaked and creamy white wines like Chardonnay and Viognier pair best with Cedar Planked Salmon as the wines complement the Salmon’s wood-smoked infused flavours.  Meanwhile, a light and fruity Pinot Noir pairs best with Cedar Planked Salmon as the red wine complements the smoky-infused flavours of the Salmon.  Finally, a crisp and fruity Rosé,   a creamy sparkling wine, IPA beer or a Gin Martini round up the top pairings with Cedar Planked Salmon Steaks.

What’s the Point of Cedar Plank Salmon?

Cedar Plank Salmon is a popular dish in North America as the wood infuses the Salmon meat with the woody flavours of cedar.  In North America, several types of Salmon are available to us: Atlantic Salmon and a variety of Salmon from the Pacific.  Atlantic Salmon always tastes the same, so if you eat a lot of it, cooking it over a cedar plank will add variety to the Salmon.

With Pacific Salmon, you get a lot more variety, however, some types of Salmon out of the Pacific are low in fat and thus lack flavour.  Chum Salmon and Pink Salmon have the lowest amounts of fat and are inexpensive Salmon, with Chum Salmon often being sold frozen in grocery stores.  Infusing these low-fat filets of Salmon with cedar aromas will make up for the lack of fatty flavour.  Coho Salmon has a moderate amount of fat but has less fat than Atlantic and also makes a good candidate for Cedar Plank BBQ.  Chinook or King Salmon is the fattiest Salmon you can buy, and because it is so flavourful, it shouldn’t require any additional flavour.

As a side note, many people think the redder the Salmon, the fattier it is, however, this red colour is derived from the crustaceans and certain bugs that Salmon might eat.

Best Wine with Cedar Plank Salmon

TypeVarietalFoodRating
White WineChardonnaySalmon Grilled on a Cedar Plank
Red WinePinot NoirSalmon Grilled on a Cedar Plank
LiquorGin Based DrinksSalmon Grilled on a Cedar Plank
BeerIndia Pale Ale - IPASalmon Grilled on a Cedar Plank
White WineViognierSalmon Grilled on a Cedar Plank
White WineLuganaSalmon Grilled on a Cedar Plank
White WineVermentinoSalmon Grilled on a Cedar Plank
RoséRoséSalmon Grilled on a Cedar Plank
Sparkling WineSparkling WineSalmon Grilled on a Cedar Plank
White WineGrüner VeltlinerSalmon Grilled on a Cedar Plank
White WineSoave Superiore ClassicoSalmon Grilled on a Cedar Plank
Red WineBeaujolais CruSalmon Grilled on a Cedar Plank
White WineGewürztraminerSalmon Grilled on a Cedar Plank

Chardonnay & Cedar Plank Salmon Pairing


A toasty vanilla and buttery Chardonnay complements the smoky and wood flavours of the Cedar Plank Salmon as well as the rich and fatty salmon flavours.  Meanwhile, the signature apple, peach, pineapple, and lemon flavours have no issue cutting through the healthy fats of the Salmon, ensures your taste buds do not get weighed down by the rich flavours of the Salmon.

Oregon Pinot Noir & Cedar Plank Salmon Steak


Ask anyone new to wine what to pair white and red wine with, and you’ll typically get the response ‘White wine with fish and red with beef.’  Hence, many people are apprehensive about pairing red wine with Salmon, however, Salmon is rich in flavour and fat, so it will hold up lighter reds, like a Pinot Noir.  In particular, I would recommend a young Oregon Pinot Noir, which is known for its bright acidity and raspberry, plum and dark cherry flavours.  The acidity ensures the wine will cut through the oily richness of cedar-planked Salmon.

With Pinot Noir, you’ll also find subtle earthy and smoky notes that complement the smokiness brought on by the cedar planking.  If an Oregon Pinot Noir is out of your reach, a slightly oaked Pinot Noir from British Columbia or California adds an oaky vanilla spice that harmonizes nicely with the cedar flavours.  California Pinot Noir always has a distinct flavour of field strawberries and sweet cherries for me.  Meanwhile, British Columbia’s cool climate gives their Pinot Noir an earthier and enticing sour cherry flavour.

Pinot Noir from other regions such as France, New Zealand, Chile and Spain will work fine with Cedar Planked Salmon as well.  Burgundy, which is a Pinot Noir from France, has a barnyard funkiness that wine enthusiasts love, but might not be a crowd-pleaser if you are hosting a backyard BBQ.

Viognier & Cedar Plank Salmon Pairing


Viognier is a rich and luscious white wine that is often aged in oak to deliver amazing flavours of Peach, Apricot, Pear, Vanilla and honeysuckle.   The rich texture of Viognier matches the meaty and fatty flavours of a Cedar Planked Salmon steak.  Viognier is also packed with notes of vanilla, almond, spice and nutmeg, which complement the cedar-infused flesh of your barbecued Salmon.

Rosé & Cedar Plank Salmon Pairing


A dry and tart Rosé makes for a fabulous summer sipper that is perfect for any backyard BBQ.  While the pink colour makes people think Rosé is going to be cloyingly sweet, in most instances, Rosé is bone dry and acidic.  Rosé does have a fruity notes of raspberry, strawberry and cherry that give it a perceived sweetness. On the other hand, you’ll also find notes of grapefruit, lime, herbs and white pepper, which makes Rosé taste more complicated than it looks.

Rosé won’t work with Cedar Planked Salmon in a complementary manner, instead, the wine offers a food-friendly contrasting appeal.  You’ll find that the fruity notes rise to the top as you chew on your Salmon and ensure your palate is cleansed with each swallow.  This ensures each bite tastes as fresh as the first, as the wine keeps the oily salmon flavours from clogging up your tongue.  It will also wash away any fishiness or lingering cedar smoke flavours that would overburden your senses if they continued to build.

Since Cedar Planked Salmon is often the highlight of a backyard BBQ, Rosé makes for the perfect wine to offer at a large gathering.  In these instances, a wide variety of dishes will be served, and due to the food-friendliness of Rosé, you’re guaranteed to have a wine that will go with nearly everything else, such as tossed green salads, fresh fruit, deviled eggs, baked potatoes, and chicken shish-a-bobs.

Peller Estate Private Reserve Rosé

Peller Estate Private Reserve Rosé

India Pale Ale & Cedar Plank Salmon Pairing


While not a wine, I felt best to mention this pairing as BBQ season and Beer go hand in hand.  India Pale Ale (IPA) is terrific with cedar plank salmon.  The bitter hops found in an IPA give it a piney characteristic that complements the cedar aromas absorbed into the Salmon. Meanwhile, the earthy and malty flavours match up nicely with the smoky flavours infused into your Salmon.  Finally, you get a bracing crispness that prepares your mouth for every new bite as it washes the smoke, fat and cedar flavours away.

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