Risky business: pairing Pinot Noir and food
Pinot Noir is a great wine, fine, with a subtle charm and it lends itself to be combined with a multitude of dishes: from a simple kebab to a tasteful duck breast with pomegranate. We have involved in this gastronomic journey some of the best Italian chefs, who will help us, with some delicious recipes, to understand the pairing potential of Pinot Noir. But before moving on to the pairings, let’s see its organoleptic characteristics: aromas and flavors.
Pinot Noir bouquet is enveloping, balsamic, of a sumptuous finesse that few other wines can boast. Lavender, ginger, pink pepper, jasmine and mint that intertwine creating a vibrant fresco and serve to frame a delicate fruit, ethereal, made of cherries, currants, citrus, pomegranate and blueberries. You will often find aromatic herbs, olive and fennel aromas, but mostly earthy ones: leaves, coffee and truffles. Summarizing it is a natural symphony of elegance.
On the palate. It is generally medium-bodied, supple, elegant, with good freshness, moderate alcohol and silky tannins, excellent with roasted white meat, but with fish fillets too. The ease with which it cuts the fat and create a bond with lots of food without cover the more delicate flavors is amazing. A single advice: choose not too elaborate-fatty dishes and avoid super spicy food that can burn its daintiness in a blink of an eye.
From the Dolomites with fury
In honor of the amazing bottles from Alto Adige, here are few dishes to try with Pinot Noir: a classic snack with sliced speck, cheese and pickles, canederli (bacon dumplings), spätzle, fillet of venison with blueberries, Tyrolean-style goulash with polenta. Let’s uncork a good bottle for this Herbert Hintner’s great recipe: lamb with thyme gremolata, of the Zur Rose restaurant in Appiano.
Tuna tataki, oily fishes. Yes, you can pair red wine and fish!
What could be more simple and tasty of a sesame pan-seared tuna filet with soy sauce? A tuna tataki accompanied by a light Pinot Noir, which can “sweeten” the flavor of the tuna.
Is Pinot Noir the best wine for Chinese food?
In all honesty, the answer is yes. Its tannins and freshness help to degrease many fatty Chinese dishes, but at the same time, the smooth structure does not cover the nuances of ginger, Sichuan pepper and cloves present in so many foods. Add to this that in many Chinese dishes pork is the protagonist and we have the moral duty to uncork a velvety Pinot Noir of the Dornach winery.
Which wine goes best with Indian food?
Indian food and Pinot Noir are a match made in heaven! Butter chicken, curry lentils, rogan josh, pudiney ke seekh, beef curry, chicken tandoori. All the spices of the Indian cuisine (coriander, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric) are also present in the wine, but beware of the heat once again!
Bacon, ciauscolo, smoked venison sausages and all the sausages in general are good fit for a lively Pinot! Do yourself a favor and try some slices of ciauscolo with the smooth Pinot Noir from Riomaggio winery.
Lamb and aromatics herbs
As taught by New Zealand people, Pinot Noir is the best wine for lamb. Not so much for rustic dishes, like arrosticini, that are more suited for a rocky Montepulciano, but rather to for those more delicate dishes, full of aromatic herbs that are also in wine. A rack of lamb with thyme, rosemary or licorice, is a great excuse to uncork a Bellaveder Pinot.
Pollo alla diavola and poultry
From a simple roast chicken to a guinea fowl with truffles, Pinot Noir is the wine that will accompany you without batting an eyelid. If the dish is simple, even better, let the Pinot make the pairings great!
A no-brainer here. Always keep a bottle of Pinot Noir for all kinds of street food, kebab, pizza and takeaway food or the lazy evenings in which you can do is pick up the phone and order some food. Remember that our friend P. N. loves the pork in all its forms, especially when it is sliced and peppered to perfection.
Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena & Reggio Emilia
Fillets with reductions of balsamic vinegar, ricotta tortelloni with porcini sauce and a dash of balsamic vinegar are perfect for your precious P. N. The sweet-sour taste of the vinegar complements the fruit of Pinot Noir without disturbing, indeed adding further depth to the textures in your mouth.
Pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin risotto, pumpkin puree with a touch of Gorgonzola, are all dishes created to enhance Pinot Noir finesse.
Uncork a Pinot Noir and pair it with a simple, creamy risotto with truffles and you will see that the earthy notes of both will create a great harmony on your palate.
Escargot for those who love the French sound. Fried in a crispy cedar batter, minced in a mouthful ragù, baked and so on.
This is on of the most tempting Pinot Noir pairings: beef and spices mixed in a concentration of flavors with the coconut milk to make it tender. A Pinot with good structure, but soft tannins, can make the experience unique, but keep an eye on the heat again!
Recipes with tea and marinated in soy sauce and miso
Tea and umami are hallmarks of Pinot Noir, let’s bring them into the plate with a green tea smoked duck. But it’s awesome also with improvised dishes: chop a chicken breast, leave it, for 1 hour, in soy sauce seasoned with garlic, vinegar, sugar and a touch of miso and then quick grill it for few minutes. Simple yet delicious with a good fruity P. N.
Risotto is the mainstay of the Italian cuisine, a poem background buttery, deliciously fat risotto requires a wine of substance , not necessarily tannic, but be able to bring freshness and prepare the mouth for the next bite. Do not miss risotto tastasal.
Mushrooms, porcini and the flavors of the forest
Pinot loves the whispering flavors of the woods, so let’s pair it with blueberries, juniper , mushrooms, porcini. It’s a great fit for a plate of fried mushrooms, some gnocchi with porcini, but also to combine with a salmon fillet with mushrooms and asparagus!
Sometimes you can snatch a memory of citrus and orange peel in Pinot Noir: exploit this correspondence to match dishes like duck with orange and fennel, citrus marinated chicken, rabbit in orange sauce.
And the best summer wine is?
Given its sweet tannins, Pinot is a great summer wine that can be put in the refrigerator half an hour before the meal without increasing the bitterness.
It always depends on the intensity and the wine’s tannins, so act accordingly, take your risks and make some experiments. From the lightest (even if it’s quite ridiculous to pair ricotta and mozzarella with Pinot Noir) to the seasoned ones like Castelmagno, through some blue cheeses, the action spectrum of Pinot is vast.
Food that doesn’t get along with Pinot Noir
- Spicy Mexican dishes, also some hot Sichuan foods (no Mala sauce, thanks) are an atomic bomb dropped into the glass. It is true that Pinot Noir is a wild-card with a lot of Asian food, but for spicy ones, put your mind at rest and let’s have a beer or tea.
- Even heavy smoked, coated, glazed BBQ is not ideal: too many flavors, too many spices, do not make Pinot’s life more difficult with overpowering flavors. It might hold up as well, but its daintiness would be smashed. There is no shame in Cabernet.
- Dishes too elaborate, such as wild boar ragù and polenta, sausage casserole with beans, brasato: Barolo was made for loving these earthy preparations.
- Beware of bitter foods that go haywire with the tannins!
- Salt, like all reds Pinot hates salt and the lack of balance in the dish.