Salads! The struggling foodie’s crutch and that perfect summer dish that we all say we should eat more often. If you’re looking for more inspiration to eat healthy, this could be the answer: do it with wine.
Good salads are by nature delicate and subtle, so pairing them with wine can be tricky, but it’s definitely doable. In general, it makes things easer if you take your dressings in to account as well. Think about which dressing flavors will complement your ingredients and the wine will follow.
Artichoke hearts are great base for summer salads if you’re aiming for something earthy and substantial. You can go for a Mediterranean flavor by mixing them with ingredients like chickpeas, sundried tomatoes and feta cheese, or pair them with other earthy flavors like asparagus or arugula. Roasted with liberal sprinklings of herbs and drizzling of olive oil they’re even good as the sole ingredient.
Pair with: Nero d’Avola
These full-bodied, fruity wines from Sicily are a great match for artichoke, one of the more complex vegetables out there.
Pea Shoot Salad
The subtle flavors of pea shoots, along with their crunchiness, make them perfect for summer salads; they are versatile too, blending perfectly with savory staples like garlic, green olives and scallions as well as red fruits like strawberries. You see these things a lot in China, actually, though usually thrown in a wok with noodles rather than in a fresh salad. Light, biting, acidic vinaigrettes work well.
Pair with: Gruner Veltliner
Austrian Gruner Veltliners match with pea shoot salads so well because of the dressings that complement them, balancing out the acidity of the dressing with the wine’s own acidic elements.
Kale was pretty hot a little while back, right? It had it’s own moment, like okra, and not-gluten. It seems to have passed now, but anyway. It still makes a great leafy basis for raw salads and goes great with ingredients like red cabbage, radish and a multitude of other vegetables. Try adding crushed pecans or cashews, nuts whose flavors gel really well and add a great deal of extra crunch.
Pair with: Riesling
Kale goes great with bold seasonings and acidic, citrus infused dressings; an excellent match for a dry Riesling.
Red Pepper & Spinach
One for those that want their salads rich and vibrant. A base of spinach and red pepper is one that can be expanded on with other bright, tangy flavors like those of black olives or goat’s cheese. Honey dressings work well if you’d like to add some sweetness, as can more classic vinegar based ones. It’s worth noting that this is a style of salad that can work just as well warm as it can cold and raw, with the peppers lightly roasted.
Pair it with: Rioja
With rich Mediterranean flavors like these, a full-bodied, smooth Rioja is a no brainer. A wine that can combat the big flavors involved without overpowering them.
Maybe not the healthiest option on this list, but surely one of the best. And anyway, you don’t have to just smother them in mayonnaise and bacon bits; potato salads can be sexy too, served cold with light lemon juice and herb dressings that make them just as perfect for a heatwave as any other salad.
Pair with: Chardonnay
We’ve talked before about how well Chardonnay pairs with potato salad. It goes great not only with the citrus flavors that you can throw in the dressing but the comforting, earthy taste of the potatoes themselves.
Want to venture further in to the world of wine pairing, but craving something a little less… healthy? Try our tips for pairing wines with all-American foods here.