Oregon Pinot Noir: Try These Pairings

Photo by Carolyn Wells Kramer Photography

Oregon Pinot Noir Pairings for the Holidays

sponsored by Willamette Valley Wineries Association

Oregon 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 Oregon pinot noir — 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 Noir 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 Pinot Noir 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.

Oregon 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.

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