What would be the most important accessory, if you want to call it that, to choose for a meal with smoked salmon? The bread that goes with it? What about the beverages, for example wine, that are being served with the dish? Yes, they are very important, so we want to explore a bit which wine goes with what kind of smoked salmon.
As you know, we have a wide range of different marinades on offer. And we smoke our salmon in two different ways, which are defined by the temperature (cold and hot smoking). You can imagine that the outcome - taste-wise - results in very different flavours.
We recently invited Mark from the Wine Buff in Ennis to come to our visitor centre and do a wine & smoked salmon pairing with us. For everybody present it was quite an eye-opener. To be able to taste many of the marinades side by side brought the difference between them into focus. And to taste equally different wines with them was a revelation!
First, Mark paired the perfect wines with the corresponding kind of salmon. Then we had a chance to pair whatever wine we thought would go well with the salmon marinade we had picked. To be very honest, some didn't go well together at all, and that in itself was a mild surprise. It was fun trying it all out, and it made us realise, how important it is to choose the right wine.
These wines are also available in our visitor centre in Lisdoonvarna, and of course from the Wine Buff in Ennis!
This selection and pairing seemed to please everybody, but that doesn't mean that your personal taste doesn't come into it. You might prefer other wine characters for your chosen smoked salmon marinade, and that is absolutely okay. The main thing with wine is that it pleases the one who is enjoying it! So there is no definite dogma that one has to follow.
But if you are unsure of which wine to choose, here a few pointers:
A Gewurztraminer, Chenin Blanc or Riesling softens and rounds off the smoke flavours, and balances out the salt content of the smoked salmon. The natural acididty of the Riesling grape in particular works very well with the fat content of salmon.
Riesling has a residual sugar content which comes with the grape and is totally natural. So it not only makes for an interesting wine but its natural sweetness lifts the flavour of smoked salmon.
Which wines don't seem to work?
One important thing to keep in mind is that crisp, acidic wines seem to clash with the taste of smoked fish.
The other important note on this is that delicate tasting wines should not be served with smoked salmon because the smokey flavour and texture of the salmon overwhelms the taste of the wine.
And thirdly: Smoked salmon is best eaten with slightly sweeter wines. A completely dry or oaky wine such as a Chardonnay from California creates too much of a contrast in the mouth and starts a battle of flavours in which neither the salmon nor the wine would win.
After all this really good advice we would like to say: Drink what you like, and try out new wine and food pairings, and have fun doing it. You will find out yourself if it does go with the meal you are cooking or not, and if not, put the bottle aside for later and open another one. And then there is always your helpful and knowledgeable wine merchant you can turn to for advice!