Gone are the days of simply pairing seafood with white wine as a match-making caveat. While this pairing can be a good place to start for the novice, the concept that red wine does not complement seafood is being blown up by wine directors all over the Pacific Northwest.
We went on a hunt to discover the most unique and creative red wine and seafood pairings, chatting with sommeliers from Oliver, British Columbia, to Portland, and creating a list that speaks to the strength of Northwest wine and seafood.
Wine: L’Ecole No. 41 Merlot
Dish: Char-grilled Wild King Salmon Medallion with Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Butter
“Our go-to favorite preparation and pairing that is available at the height of wild salmon season is the char-grilled wild King salmon medallion with sun-dried tomato and basil butter paired with either the L’Ecole No. 41 Merlot… If you have not tried chargrilled salmon and Merlot together, this is going to be a great treat for you.” — Lane Hoss, vice president of operations and beverage director for Anthony’s Home Port, Seattle
Wine: River Stone Estate Winery Cabernet Franc
Dish: Grilled Neon Squid, Fava Beans, Sumac and Red Ace Beets
“Ted Kane from River Stone makes wines for chefs… bold, clear, singular-varietal driven wines. This Cabernet Franc is no exception with a defined point of view and the mechanics to back it up… Grilled neon squid brings a slight char to the palate that helps tame the chewy tannins of Riverstone while the lemon notes of wild-foraged sumac keep the palate going. Finish the pairing with wine-braised beets for another dose of minerals and almost a red fruit, dried candy flavors which help balance the squid while enhancing the Cabernet Franc.” — Derek Uhlemann, co-owner and founder of Oliver Eats Ltd., Oliver, BC
Wine: Evening Land Seven Springs Gamay Noir
Dish: Salmon with Asparagus, Pistachio Purée and Meyer Lemon Beurre
“We were serving a salmon with asparagus, pistachio purée and Meyer lemon beurre at Canard. While Pinot Noir is a local classic pairing with salmon, this dish called for something a little lighter. We went with Evening Land Seven Springs Gamay Noir. A super light and bright Gamay with just a little funk that worked with the asparagus, the nuts, and the salmon.” — Andy Fortgang, co-owner and wine director of Canard, Portland
The Wine: Day Wines 2016 Papacito Pétillant Naturel
The Dish: Razor Clams
“My father is keen on heading out to the Oregon Coast on the hunt for razor clams. I love them fried up simply with breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and lemon. I eat many of them hot out of the pan, offering effusive thanks to the person who got up at the crack of dawn to dig them out of the sand and then spent time cleaning them… Pop open a bottle of Day Wines’ Papacito and toast to the ocean, your full belly, family and the winemaker for this fun, fizzy, Primitivo.” — Jane Smith, owner and wine director at Dame, Portland