Pinot Noir pairs best with dishes with a hint of earthiness such as Veal Marsala, Mushroom Pasta, Grilled Salmon, Shepherd’s Pie, Beef Wellington and Lamb Chops.  Pinot Noir is a light, acidic and fruity red wine with a subtle earthy kiss that makes for an elegant and food-friendly red wine.  It’s the perfect red wine to bring to a holiday or family dinner as Pinot Noir pairs great with ham, turkey, beef, salmon and roast chicken.  Pinot Noir is also acidic, meaning it will pair well with anything containing tomatoes such as pasta, stew, or pizza.

The earthy flavours of Pinot Noir also make it excellent with bacon or dishes featuring bacon such as Pasta Carbonara, Bacon Wrapped Beef Tenderloin, or Meat Lover’s Pizza.  Aside from the earthy flavours of Pinot Noir complementing the smoky bacon flavours, the light and fruity flavours of this red wine also offer up a refreshing contrast against the saltiness of this cured meat. In a similar fashion, Pinot works well with the smoky and salty seasonings of Sausage and Sausage dishes.

Pinot Noir is also a difficult wine to grow.  Often nicknamed the heartache grape, stellar vintages only seem to appear once every decade or less.  In recent years, California has been producing some amazing Pinot Noir, along with Oregon, British Columbia and New Zealand.  Poor examples of Pinot Noir also exist, where wine producers market cheap versions of the grape, which are filled with synthetic colouring and flavourings.  If your bottle of Pinot Noir costs less than $35, it might not taste bad, but it will never taste amazing as good Pinot Noir is expensive to make.

What is Burgundy Wine?

In France, Pinot Noir is referred to as Burgundy, and these are among the most collectable and expensive wines available.  That’s the allure of Pinot Noir, however.  When you find that perfect bottle, the heavens open wide open, and you’ll chase that fleeting dragon for the rest of your life.  Pinot Noir is a wine that seduces you with its subtle complexity of fruit and funk.  Wild strawberry and cherry tantalize your taste buds with their flirty sense of fun, while truffle, earth, mushroom, forest floor and spice elegantly wisp in and out of focus, teasing you and driving you mad.

I will have a separate blog on Burgundy pairings at a future date.

What is Pays d’Oc Pinot Noir?

Pays d’Oc has a hotter and drier climate than Burgundy, which makes for Pinot Noir that is less elegant and complex.  While you can still find great Pinot Noir from Pays d’Oc, expect intense flavours of blackberry, coffee and green bell pepper and a much lower price tag.

I will do a separate blog for Pays d’Oc at a later date.

Best Food with Pinot Noir

Oregon Pinot Noir and Grilled Salmon Pairing

Pinot Noir paired with Grilled Salmon is a holy grail of food, and wine pairing as both the Salmon and the wine make each other taste incredibly better.  Salmon is a fatty fish and packs a lot of flavour that the black fruit flavours of an Oregon Pinot Noir can easily hold up to.  Meanwhile, the bright acidity of the Pinot Noir shears right through the richness of the Salmon releasing the meat’s beautiful flavours as acidity also acts as a flavour enhancer.  The richness of the Salmon also brings out the refreshing blackberry, black cherry, and plum flavours of your Pinot Noir, creating a velvety and silky experience on your tongue.

With Oregon Pinot Noir, you’ll also get hints of mushroom, mocha, black tea and truffle that are able to seduce you easier as they mesh with the flavours of your grilled Salmon.  It’s an amazing pairing and should be tried by everyone who enjoys food and wine at least once.

What’s the Difference between California and Oregon Pinot Noir?

California Pinot will be more fruit-forward with candied notes of strawberry and red cherry.  You may also find some oak which will give it hints of vanilla and chocolate in your Pinot Noir. In general, the wine is more robust and richer than Oregon Pinot Noir and should be drunk within 3 to 5 years.  For the best Pinot Noir from California, seek wines from cooler climates such as Sonoma, Carneros and the Russian River Valley.  Often these bottles will be expensive as only small batches are made.

Oregon Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley mirrors that of Burgundy in that you’ll find more earthiness and mushroom flavours.  Oregon Pinot Noir is less candied than California Pinot Noir, lower in alcohol and have more black fruit than red fruit flavours.  Thus, expect hints of black cherry, plum or blackberry.  Unlike Burgundy, which can be aged for decades, Oregon Pinot Noir should be drunk young.

In terms of popularity California is a bigger crowd pleaser than Oregon when it comes to Pinot Noir.  Fruity and vibrant, the best selling Pinot Noir from California are mass produced and often uses oak to mask the earthier flavours of Pinot Noir with vanilla and chocolate.  There is nothing wrong with this style and it has its place.

Pork Tacos & Pinot Noir Pairing

Pinot Noir is incredibly food-friendly due to its high acidity, low tannin and light and fruity flavours.  As Pork Tacos can contain a wide variety of ingredients, the food-friendly nature of Pinot Noir makes it a star with this dish.  The forest floor flavours of Pinot Noir are a delight with the earthiness of any refried beans or grilled vegetables in your Pork Tacos.  Meanwhile, the high acidity of Pinot Noir ensures it doesn’t clash with the acidic salsa in your Pork Tacos.

The real star of the show is the marinated Pork in your Tacos, which will have a sweet and smoky flavour.  The perceived sweetness of Pinot Noir with its cherry, raspberry and strawberry flavours get along charmingly well with the sweetness of the marinated pork.  Meanwhile, the smoke, spice, and truffle flavours complement the savoury and spiciness of your Pork.

Light in body, Pinot Noir won’t overwhelm the delicious Pork flavours.  Pinot Noir also proves to be exceptional with similar fare that includes a wide variety of ingredients such as Chicken Burritos, Fish Tacos, Lamb Gyros or Shawarma.

Mushroom Pasta & Pinot Noir Paring

The mushroom, truffle and forest floor flavours of Pinot Noir love anything mushroom-based, so it’s no surprise that Pinot Noir is delicious with Mushroom Pasta.  If your Mushroom Pasta is in a creamy sauce, the high acidity of Pinot Noir cuts right through the richness of the cream, butter and parmesan cheese, allowing the earthy flavours of the Mushrooms to shine brightly.  Creamy sauces clog our taste buds up, muting flavours after several bites, however, the acidity found in Pinot Noir ensures that this will not be an issue.

If your Mushroom Pasta is in a tomato based sauce, Pinot Noir’s high acidity can also handle this dish.  Tomato and tannin do not mix well, as the tomatoes’ acidity makes the tannin taste metallic and flat.  With Pinot Noir being low in tannin, and high acidity, you’ll find that it is a lovely pair with any pasta tossed in a red sauce.

Shepherd’s Pie and Pinot Noir Pairing

Shepherd’s Pie is a lamb-based dish where your leftover lamb is baked into a savoury pie containing mashed potatoes, root vegetables, peas, corn, and gravy.  You may also find it called Cottage Pie, however, in this instance, beef or pork is used instead of lamb.  And of course, there is Chicken Pot Pie.  No matter what style of savoury pie you’re serving up, the food-friendly vibrancy of Pinot Noir will make it a hit wine pairing with Shepherd’s Pie.

With Shepherd’s Pie, many people find the gamy lamb flavours unappealing.  The beauty of Pinot Noir is that its light but fruity flavours of cherry, plum, strawberry, and raspberry help mask those gamy flavours of the lamb.  The truffle and mushroom flavours also complement the savoury flavours of the lamb along with any mushrooms or earthy root vegetables in your meat pie.

The bright acidity of Pinot Noir also cuts through the heavy carbohydrates and fats found in the starches and gravy baked into your pie.  This is important as starch and fat can easily overwhelm our taste buds.  This clogging, causes all the flavours of Shepherd’s pie to stall out after a few bites.  With one sip of Pinot Noir, your taste buds are kicked back into first gear as the acidity of the wine whisks all the fats and carbohydrates away.

Croque Monsieur & Pinot Noir

Croque Monsieur is a high-end grilled cheese sandwich that hails from France.  Aside from cheese, Croque Monsieur also includes slices of ham and a smear of zesty Dijon mustard. Croque Monsieur will delight and tease every sense with its sumptuous flavours and buttery but crisp crust.

Pinot Noir, with its cherry, raspberry and strawberry notes won’t overpower this delicious sandwich. Instead, the lively acidity of Pinot Noir cuts through the cheese and buttery bread crust, enhancing the flavours of the ham, cheese and Dijon mustard.  Meanwhile, the smoky and earthy notes of Pinot Noir complement sweet but savoury flavours of the ham.