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Food and Wine - Salad
Copyright 2001 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved. Originally printed July 31, 2001. For more information go to

Following up on yesterday's discussion of wine and counting calories (or kilojoules), let's go down a related tangent and consider the art of matching wine with salads.

As noted in our Food and Wine Matching Engine, vinegar and wine are natural foes, so if you're serving a salad dressed with a traditional vinaigrette, it's probably best to set your wine glass aside until a later course.

But suppose a salad IS your main course? Plenty of salad options work well with the appropriate wine. Make your salad more wine-friendly by topping it with chicken, seafood or cheese, for instance; or dress it with something less acidic than vinegar.

Here are a few broad principles to consider: Relatively tart (high-acid) wines usually complement similar foods, so a crisp, dry Sauvignon Blanc will stand up to a vinaigrette that might overwhelm a fat Chardonnay. The buttery richness of that same Chardonnay, on the other hand, might make it a good choice with a rich Caesar salad or creamy Roquefort dressing.

Herbaceous wines complement herbal flavors, so pick a citric, green-pepper New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a "grassy" Sancerre from the Loire and watch it sing in tune with your green salad.

Add toppings to a dinner salad, and choose a wine to match: The black olives in a Salade Niçoise naturally call for a dry Provence rosé, for example. Ham and cheese suggest a Beaujolais. Complement a Greek salad topped with feta cheese with a crisp white Santorini. Fashion a caprese salad of fresh garden tomatoes, creamy mozzarella and fresh basil and enjoy a Chianti; in fact, you can match this favorite Italian wine with any tomato salad - the fruity-tart flavors of the wine and the tomatoes make a natural match. Or go the festive route and add excitement to just about any salad dinner by uncorking a bottle of bubbly.


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