Oregon Pinot Noir

Photo by Carolyn Wells Kramer Photography

Oregon Pinot Noir Pairings for the Holidays

sponsored by Willamette Valley Wineries Association

Pinot Noir Grapes
Pinot Noir Grapes

The truth is, Oregon pinot noir is versatile. This makes it great no matter the holiday and no matter your family’s food traditions.

Pascal Chureau, the chef and owner of Field & Vine Events and Allium Bistro in West Linn, said pinot noir is easy to pair with holiday foods because it isn’t too intense. “It’s light and acidic enough to pair well with a wide range of foods without overpowering delicate flavors,” he said.

Chureau and Thor Erickson, who oversees Central Oregon Community College’s Cascade Culinary Institute, identified several foods that will truly bring out the flavors of the wine — and vice versa.

Fatty fowl like turkey, goose and duck are high on both chefs’ lists, in part because red poultry meat and the subcutaneous fat right under the skin pairs well with the wine.

Classic Pinot Pairings: Do that to me One More Time


“I think about the wine, and I think about the fruit, acidity, the tannins involved and the complexity of the wine,” Erickson said. “Oregon pinot is not a super complex wine. It does have a bit of higher acidity, so foods such as duck or goose that have that kind of fat quality to them pair really well.”

Another option that pairs well with Oregon pinot noir is salmon.
“The acid in that wine goes with the fat,” Erickson said. “They go together like the Captain and Tennille. … It has that nice fattiness to it, and it’s mild, and if cooked properly you have a wonderful pairing.”

Daring Pairings: Pescatarian Pinot


What’s that, you say? You, like me, heard we’re always supposed to pair fish with white wines?

“Not necessarily so,” Erickson said. “There are rules for snobs, but I’m not one of those and I think whatever goes. You’d be surprised. With pinot being a lighter red wine, it goes well with salmon.”

Chureau also had a side dish in mind: roasted butternut squash soup with goat cheese and maple syrup.

“The small amount of sugar creates a nice balance with the more acidic pinot,” Chureau said.

Other foods to look for are those with oil components to them. Erickson suggested hazelnuts, roasted root vegetables, and for dessert, a dark chocolate that’s not too bitter.

Pinot and Chocolate


Chureau went farther in his chocolate recommendations, suggesting a traditional chocolate buche de noel for Christmas dessert. Buche de noel is a cake shaped like a Yule log.

Erickson also recommended including the wine in a recipe. “Because of the lack of tannins in that Oregon pinot noir, it’s easy to incorporate,” he said. “If you’re trying to pair wine with food, using that wine as an ingredient only helps that whole thing along. You can use a bit of that wine in a marinade or a sauce.”

Chureau suggested reducing an Oregon pinot noir and adding beef stock or a little chocolate to create a steak sauce. Another option is to reduce pinot noir with some pomegranate syrup, then pour it over ice cream for dessert or use it as a vinaigrette salad dressing.

Erickson said another easy way to think about how to pair foods and wine is to just look at the color.

“One weird thing that sounds totally out of left field, is that food and drinks that are the same color tend to go together,” he said. “So roasted beets and red wine, for example, go together.”

1859 Oregon’s Magazine searched the archives to find a few options for adding an Oregon pinot noir to your holiday foods. See what we found below.

Author1859 Oregon's Magazine
RatingDifficultyIntermediate

Pinot Noir is the perfect ingredient to enhance the flavor of the game.

elk recipe

Yields1 Serving
Prep Time25 minsCook Time45 minsTotal Time1 hr 10 mins

For the Elk
 1 elk backstrap, trimmed of fat and silverskin, about 12 ounces
 4 tbsp vegetable oil
 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
 1 tsp coarsely cracked black peppercorns
 ¼ tsp kosher salt
For the Sauce
 3 tbsp vegetable oil
 ½ large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
 1 celery rib, coarsely chopped
 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
 ½ Granny Smith apple, diced (no need to core)
 1 cup Oregon pinot noir
 ½ cup Ruby Port
 3 cups chicken stock
 1 sprig fresh thyme
 ½ cup + 2 tablespoons fresh or frozen Oregon huckleberries

For the Elk
1

Rub the elk with 2 tablespoons oil, thyme, peppercorns and salt. Let stand for 1 hour at room temperature.

2

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Heat a large, ovenproof skillet on high, then add the rest of the oil.

3

When the oil is almost smoking, add the elk and sear on all sides, about 2 minutes total, then transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the elk until the internal temperature reaches 120 degrees (for medium rare), 5 to 6 minutes.

4

Let rest for 5 minutes before carving.

For the sauce
5

Heat the oil in a 4-quart saucepan on high. Add onion, celery, carrots and apple.

6

Sauté over high heat, stirring often, until the vegetables caramelize slightly, about 10 to 15 minutes.

7

Add the Oregon pinot noir and port. Simmer briskly until reduced to a syrup, about 15 minutes.

8

Add the chicken stock, thyme and ½ cup huckleberries. Simmer until reduced to a sauce consistency, about 30 minutes.

9

Strain through a fine sieve, pressing on the solids. You should have about ½ cup sauce.

10

Return the sauce to a small saucepan and add the remaining 2 tablespoons huckleberries.

To serve
11

Slice the elk about ¼-inch thick. Arrange the elk on dinner plates and spoon the sauce around it, not over it.

CategoryCuisine

Recipe by Thor Erickson

serves 4


Ingredients

For the Elk
 1 elk backstrap, trimmed of fat and silverskin, about 12 ounces
 4 tbsp vegetable oil
 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
 1 tsp coarsely cracked black peppercorns
 ¼ tsp kosher salt
For the Sauce
 3 tbsp vegetable oil
 ½ large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
 1 celery rib, coarsely chopped
 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
 ½ Granny Smith apple, diced (no need to core)
 1 cup Oregon pinot noir
 ½ cup Ruby Port
 3 cups chicken stock
 1 sprig fresh thyme
 ½ cup + 2 tablespoons fresh or frozen Oregon huckleberries

Directions

For the Elk
1

Rub the elk with 2 tablespoons oil, thyme, peppercorns and salt. Let stand for 1 hour at room temperature.

2

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Heat a large, ovenproof skillet on high, then add the rest of the oil.

3

When the oil is almost smoking, add the elk and sear on all sides, about 2 minutes total, then transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the elk until the internal temperature reaches 120 degrees (for medium rare), 5 to 6 minutes.

4

Let rest for 5 minutes before carving.

For the sauce
5

Heat the oil in a 4-quart saucepan on high. Add onion, celery, carrots and apple.

6

Sauté over high heat, stirring often, until the vegetables caramelize slightly, about 10 to 15 minutes.

7

Add the Oregon pinot noir and port. Simmer briskly until reduced to a syrup, about 15 minutes.

8

Add the chicken stock, thyme and ½ cup huckleberries. Simmer until reduced to a sauce consistency, about 30 minutes.

9

Strain through a fine sieve, pressing on the solids. You should have about ½ cup sauce.

10

Return the sauce to a small saucepan and add the remaining 2 tablespoons huckleberries.

To serve
11

Slice the elk about ¼-inch thick. Arrange the elk on dinner plates and spoon the sauce around it, not over it.

Peppered Elk Backstrap with Oregon Pinot Noir Huckleberry Sauce

Pears and Oregon Pinot Noir, what a perfect combination!

Yields1 Serving

Glaze
 2 Bartlett or Anjou pears
 1 bottle Oregon Pinot Noir
 ¼ cup sugar
 1 star anise
 ½ tsp kosher salt
Vinaigrette
 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
 ¼ cup olive oil
 1 cup toasted walnut pieces
 ½ cup white wine
 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
 1 tsp Dijon mustard
String Potatoes or Frites
 1 russet potato, peeled
 1 qt canola oil
Salad
 3 cups mixed greens
 1 cup crumbled Oregonzola bleu cheese

Glazing the Pears
1


Peel the pears. Combine the remaining ingredients from the pears section in a pot and bring to a simmer.

2

Let simmer for five minutes. Add the pears, and cook them over medium-low heat for about twenty minutes, or until fork tender.

3

Remove from the liquid to a bowl of ice water for one minute to stop cooking. Reserve liquid.

4

Continue reducing the poaching liquid over medium-high heat for about fifteen to twenty minutes, until reduced by two-thirds. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool.

Walnut Vinaigrette
5

To make the warm walnut vinaigrette, sauté the shallots and the garlic in two tablespoons of the oil, in a medium-sized pan over medium heat.

6

Add the walnut pieces, and stir for twenty to thirty seconds.

7

Add the wine and white wine vinegar.

8

With a whisk, add the Dijon, then slowly stream in the remaining oil, whisking constantly, until completely incorporated.

9

Heat the vinaigrette over very low heat.

For the potatoes
10

Fill a large, heavy pot halfway with oil. Heat to 360F.

11

On a vegetable turner (found at most kitchen stores) spin the potato into strings, or cut into very thin strips.

12

Dry the prepped potato quickly with a towel, then place in the oil to fry until golden. You will need to turn them for even cooking. Remove the potato from the oil and put in a bowl lined with paper towels to drain and cool.

Preparing the Pears
13

Slice the pears lengthwise on either side of the core into six even pieces.

14

With a spoon, take some of the cooled reduced cooking liquid (which should be a syrupy consistency) and stream or streak onto the plate.

15

Place one of the largest pear slices down on the plate over the pear glaze.

16

Place some of the bleu cheese crumbles on the pear slice, then some of the greens dressed in a little oil, then carefully place the next largest piece of pear on top and repeat.

17

Spoon some of the warm walnut vinaigrette next to the stacked pear, and garnish with the potato nest or frites.

CategoryCuisine

Gavin McMichael, The Blacksmith (Bend) | Serves 4

Ingredients

Glaze
 2 Bartlett or Anjou pears
 1 bottle Oregon Pinot Noir
 ¼ cup sugar
 1 star anise
 ½ tsp kosher salt
Vinaigrette
 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
 ¼ cup olive oil
 1 cup toasted walnut pieces
 ½ cup white wine
 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
 1 tsp Dijon mustard
String Potatoes or Frites
 1 russet potato, peeled
 1 qt canola oil
Salad
 3 cups mixed greens
 1 cup crumbled Oregonzola bleu cheese

Directions

Glazing the Pears
1


Peel the pears. Combine the remaining ingredients from the pears section in a pot and bring to a simmer.

2

Let simmer for five minutes. Add the pears, and cook them over medium-low heat for about twenty minutes, or until fork tender.

3

Remove from the liquid to a bowl of ice water for one minute to stop cooking. Reserve liquid.

4

Continue reducing the poaching liquid over medium-high heat for about fifteen to twenty minutes, until reduced by two-thirds. Remove from the heat, and allow to cool.

Walnut Vinaigrette
5

To make the warm walnut vinaigrette, sauté the shallots and the garlic in two tablespoons of the oil, in a medium-sized pan over medium heat.

6

Add the walnut pieces, and stir for twenty to thirty seconds.

7

Add the wine and white wine vinegar.

8

With a whisk, add the Dijon, then slowly stream in the remaining oil, whisking constantly, until completely incorporated.

9

Heat the vinaigrette over very low heat.

For the potatoes
10

Fill a large, heavy pot halfway with oil. Heat to 360F.

11

On a vegetable turner (found at most kitchen stores) spin the potato into strings, or cut into very thin strips.

12

Dry the prepped potato quickly with a towel, then place in the oil to fry until golden. You will need to turn them for even cooking. Remove the potato from the oil and put in a bowl lined with paper towels to drain and cool.

Preparing the Pears
13

Slice the pears lengthwise on either side of the core into six even pieces.

14

With a spoon, take some of the cooled reduced cooking liquid (which should be a syrupy consistency) and stream or streak onto the plate.

15

Place one of the largest pear slices down on the plate over the pear glaze.

16

Place some of the bleu cheese crumbles on the pear slice, then some of the greens dressed in a little oil, then carefully place the next largest piece of pear on top and repeat.

17

Spoon some of the warm walnut vinaigrette next to the stacked pear, and garnish with the potato nest or frites.

Pear Salad with Oregon Pinot Noir Glaze and Warm Walnut Vinaigrette


Oregon Pinot Noir and Cherry Chutney can be made in the summer and served in the winter to add astonishment to your holiday feasts.

cherry-chutney

Yields1 Serving

 3 cups pitted Oregon cherries
 2 cups Oregon Pinot Noir
 ½ cup brown sugar
 2 tbsp grated ginger
 1 pinch salt
 ½ cup red wine vinegar
 1 cup minced shallots
 1 cinnamon stick
 1 star anise pod
 2 cardamom pods
 2 cloves

1

Using cheesecloth, tie cinnamon, anise, cardamom and cloves into a sachet with butcher’s twine.

2

Toss everything into a small pot and bring to a slow simmer.

3

Continue cooking as the liquid reduces and the flavors concentrate.

4

When most of the liquid is gone and the mixture is thickened, it is done.

5

Remove sachet. Refrigerate until needed.

Category, Cuisine


Scott Pisani, Rain NW (Eugene)

Ingredients

 3 cups pitted Oregon cherries
 2 cups Oregon Pinot Noir
 ½ cup brown sugar
 2 tbsp grated ginger
 1 pinch salt
 ½ cup red wine vinegar
 1 cup minced shallots
 1 cinnamon stick
 1 star anise pod
 2 cardamom pods
 2 cloves

Directions

1

Using cheesecloth, tie cinnamon, anise, cardamom and cloves into a sachet with butcher’s twine.

2

Toss everything into a small pot and bring to a slow simmer.

3

Continue cooking as the liquid reduces and the flavors concentrate.

4

When most of the liquid is gone and the mixture is thickened, it is done.

5

Remove sachet. Refrigerate until needed.

Oregon Pinot Cherry Chutney

Celebrate with a wine country thanksgiving!

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