Ask any wine geek what to pair with a Pinot Noir, and you’ll soon hear the word “salmon”. It’s almost a knee-jerk reaction. But unless your taste buds are completely dead, you’ve likely noticed that many new world Pinots fight mightily with the fishy oils that are part of the tasty goodness of salmon.
Not All Pinots Are Salmon Pinots!
Which Pinots are the biggest offenders? Pinots high in alcohol, deep in color, big in fruit and resplendent with Volatile Acidity that borderlines on too much (but which helps the nose and initial flavor pop out of the glass!)… in other words, some of the wine world’s highest scoring wines. These Pinots can be delicious wines, and I carry many such wines and sometimes recommend them heartily. Just not with salmon.
But if you find just the RIGHT Pinot, and pair it with a wild caught salmon (when pairing with pinot, I prefer the salmon grilled rather than poached), it can be a little slice of heaven. To find such a wine is easy – just peruse my tasting notes in my rather extensive portfolio of Pinots. My favorite salmon wines from my current portfolio? Labyrinth, Four Graces, Phillips Hill and Staete Landt (New Zealand).
Cheap Salmon – Not Worth the Savings!
But as with any food topic these days, and particularly with the gourmet food and wine crowd, the conversation quickly turns to sustainability. And any posting that involves salmon seems irresponsible if it doesn’t excoriate one against the consumption of farm-raised salmon. Such farms, as you likely know, result in such toxic conditions that not only does it kill all life for the many square miles under the salmon confinements, but the salmon must also be fed huge doses of anti-biotics to avoid becoming ill. And the genetically altered fish, when the inevitable lucky few escape, can breed with wild salmon and alter the genetic blood line, making the wild salmon less sustainable in their own right.
Fortunately, there are some highly sustainable farms beginning to emerge in inland lakes, where the salmon farm is by definition, self-contained. Such farms don’t use anti-biotics, as there is no need. And the lake remains healthy and vibrant as an ecosystem. But other than these pleasant exceptions, I urge you to “just say no to farm-raised salmon”. Fortunately, more and more of us are voting with our pocket books, and the “Salmon Safe” movement is well afoot, as you can see in the following video I found on the E’Cole Winery website.