Food pairing with Pinot Noir

Published August 25th, 2022

Pinot Noir is one of the oldest and most eclectic red grape varieties. Its homeland is Burgundy where it creates amazingly elegant red wines, but it is grown a bit all over the world and it is vinified in a wide number of ways.

Food pairing with Pinot Noir.

It is used in blend or alone, and it can come in white, pink, or red, with or without bubbles Its great versatility makes food pairing with Pinot Noir extremely varied and interesting.

From a simple kebab to a refined dish of duck breast, from fresh seafood to a juicy pork shank, Pinot Noir pairings are almost infinite!

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Pinot Noir pairing basics

The red wines obtained from Pinot Noir have fresh and delicate scents of small red fruits such as strawberry, cherry, raspberry, and currant but also notes of lavender, ginger, and jasmine. With aging, the aromas become more complex and are reminiscent of ripe fruit, spices, leather, and mushrooms. These flavors make young Pinot Noir perfect for pairing with meat especially when served with red fruit sauces. Older wines make a perfect companion for mushrooms and truffles.

Red Pinot Noirs are light to medium-bodied, with a soft taste underlined by notable acidity. Their tannic structure is subtle, due to the thin grape’s skin.

Thanks to the combination of great acidity, silky tannins, and distinct aromas, the list of foods that go with Pinot Noir is almost endless and includes meat and fish, and a long number of vegetarian options.

Pinot Noir regions

The land of choice for Pinot Noir is undoubtedly Burgundy, in particular the Côte d'Or, where some of the best wines in the world are produced, and Champagne, where it is vinified in white. However, this grape is widespread in various parts of the world.

Pinot Noir is grown in Germany, Austria, and northern Italy, where cool climates guarantee an excellent evolution of the aromas. Out of Europe it is cultivated in the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.

This grape thrives in cool temperatures and limestone-rich soils such as those of Burgundy where it creates wines with several aromatic nuances depending on its terroir. In other cool areas like northern Europe or Oregon, it expresses excellent acidity.

New World wines coming from warmer climates like California, New Zealand or Australia tend to show a bolder personality. The greater exposure to sunlight and the lower quantity of rainfall create fuller-bodied Pinot Noirs characterized by riper fruit, lower acidity, and higher alcohol content.

Pinot Noir vinified in white is the ideal base for classic method sparkling wines: its elegance and good acidity give complexity and longevity to Champagne and the most famous Italian sparkling wines (Oltrepò Pavese, Franciacorta, Trento DOC, and Alta Langa).

Due to its complex nature, food pairing for Pinot Noir is strongly influenced by its style and country of origin.

Pair Pinot Noir with fish and seafood dishes

Pinot Noir is widely regarded as the best red for seafood and fish, thanks to its elegance and great persistence. Its complexity can harmoniously contrast with the fish flavors, while the delicate tannins cleanse the mouth of any greasiness.

When pairing Pinot Noir with fish, it is advisable to choose something with a complex texture and a sweet tendency, cooking methods that can give structure and succulence to the dish, and aromatic and spicy seasonings.

Smoked salmon and Pinot Noir.

Smoked salmon and Pinot Noir

The fatty red-orange meat of salmon requires pairing with wines with good acidity and moderate alcoholic structure.

The silky and delicate character of the tannins, the fruity aromas of strawberries and raspberries, together with the earthy nuances of Pinot Noir, especially if  from Oregon or Burgundy, will enhance the savory flavors of smoked salmon and perfectly match the rich texture of its flesh.

Our suggestion: La Crema Willamette Valley Pinot Noir

Scallops, lobster and shrimp and Pinot Noir

The combination of Pinot Noir and seafood can be twofold. A Blanc de Noirs will perfectly balance the iodized notes of seafood, as long as it has a fresh structure, with fine bubbles, and notes of white flowers.

If the dish is well seasoned and flavored with some spices, the combination also works with red Pinot Noirs. The notes of black fruits and peppery aromas of an Alsatian one, in a slightly aged vintage, will fit perfectly.

Our suggestion: Champagne Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut "Contrée Noir", Brocard Pierre

Pair Pinot Noir with meat dishes

From guinea fowl with truffles to pork shank, from duck to lamb chops to beef Wellington, Pinot Noir is the perfect wine for meat that is not too fat and of medium consistency.

Pork and Pinot Noir.

Pork and Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir wine pairing with pork is always successful, as the acidity of the wine cleanses the palate of the fatness of the meat, while its elegant aromas will enhance the delicate flavor of the meat. Young New World wines from California, New Zealand, or Australia will pair well with juicy and lightly smoked barbecue pork ribs or a succulent pork shank.

Our suggestion: Clos Henri Petit Clos Pinot Noir

Charcuterie and Pinot Noir

Salt, fat, spices and seasoning of charcuterie are the key elements to consider when looking for a wine to pair.

While many delicately flavored cured meats combine perfectly with the olfactory complexity and bubbles of a Blanc de Noirs, a red Pinot Noir from a cold region, such as Germany or northern Italy, will have the freshness and aromatic strength to balance the most seasoned cold cuts.

Our suggestion: Trentino Pinot Nero DOC, Villa Vescovile

Lamb and Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is the classic reference wine for lamb dishes.

Lamb is a naturally delicate but tender and succulent meat that is perfectly balanced by the acidity of the Pinot and its herbaceous and spicy hints.

The silky tannins, the good acidity, and the medium body of this grape make it soft on the palate. It, therefore, goes perfectly with lamb dishes prepared with herbs and garlic, fruit sauces, mushrooms, or truffles.

The best Pinot Noir with lamb is a slightly aged wine from the New World, that will show the right juiciness to balance the meat flavors.

Our suggestion: Peregrine Pinot Noir

Roast or Cacciatore chicken and Pinot Noir

Chicken has lean and delicate meat that goes perfectly with a fresh and lively wine.

Although often served with white wine, chicken also goes well with red wine, as long as this is not too tannic, slightly evolved, and with a light body. With roast chicken, delicious with its tasty and crunchy skin, or chicken Cacciatore, cooked with mushrooms, wine, and spices, the ideal choice is a Burgundy Pinot. Its characterful elegance will enhance the meat without overwhelming it.

Our suggestion: Saint Romain Rouge, Domaine Germain Père & Fils

Duck and Pinot Noir

Duck is a tender, quality meat with a strong taste. Its skin has succulent fatness but inside the meat is lean. It is therefore advisable to accompany it with the right wine to sublimate its aromas. The ideal wine pairing will depend on the recipe and cooking method but in general, the best wine for duck is Pinot Noir.

With a duck breast, or roast duck pick a Pinot Noir with silky tannins and subtle fruitiness such as an Oregon or Burgundy wine.

Our suggestion: Domaine Drouhin Oregon Pinot Noir

Rabbit (or other game) and Pinot Noir

With its strong and tasty flavor, rabbit meat (as well as most game) is suitable for all sauces, and it is from these that we must start to establish a food and wine pairing. A rabbit with mustard or cream may prefer white wine. But the recipes with stronger condiments, such as rabbit Cacciatore, with mushrooms, olives, or plums, go well with red wines with soft tannins. A fruity and silky Pinot Noir from Oltrepo' Pavese, with delicate herbaceous aromas, is a perfect choice.

Our suggestion: Oltrepò Pavese Pinot Nero DOC "Giorgio Odero", Frecciarossa

Cheese pairing with Pinot Noir.

Cheese pairing with Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir tends to be a fairly versatile wine even with cheeses. The real only exceptions are blue cheeses, which can overwhelm this delicate grape with their pungent character.

With soft cheeses such as Brie and Camembert, or goat cheese the best option is a young and fresh Pinot Noir. The perfect cheese for Pinot Noir coming from Burgundy, instead, is a medium-hard Gruyere or Comté.

In any case, always serve Pinot Noir cheese pair with red fruit jam that will match the wine aromas.

Our suggestion: Decoy Pinot Noir

Pair Pinot Noir with vegetarian dishes.

Pair Pinot Noir with vegetarian dishes

An aged Pinot Noir recalls notes of undergrowth, with mossy and earthy aromas. These, together with its sensational freshness, and its vaporous lightness make it the perfect wine for vegetarian preparations.

When pairing Pinot Noir with food, all dishes with mushrooms or truffles are always a good choice, especially with aged wines, but this grape can also thrive in combination with roasted asparagus or beetroots. The younger wines works deliciously with the acidity of tomatoes.

Our suggestion: Bourgogne Pinot Noir "Fleur au Verre", Sextant

How to serve Pinot Noir

Young or aged red Pinot Noirs should be served at around 18-20°C, in large wine glasses so that the wine can release its aromas.

Rosé wines should be served at a temperature of about 14°C, while sparkling wines should be served at a temperature of 10°C.

As for decanting, this is strongly discouraged for Champagne and other sparkling wines. For young red Pinot Noirs, especially if from the New World and therefore with strong intensity of aromas, they ca n benefit from decanting, while for more aged wines we recommend some aeration in the bottle or glass, to prevent the wine from being overwhelmed by excessive oxygenation.

Once opened, it is advisable to consume within 24 hours.