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Pairing Pinot Noir

Pairing Pinot Noir

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Pinot noir has become a serious contender in the world of fine wine. There was a time when the name pinot noir was an obscurity amongst the average wine drinker. Those in the know understood that red burgundy was made from pinot and vintner-pioneers in Oregon and California had already started experimentation and the search for the perfect terroir to grow the varietal. However, to the consumer, pinot noir was an unknown. Then, around 2005, its popularity skyrocketed.

Many will say that the movie Sideways did much more good for pinot than it did badly for merlot, and I’m willing to accept that. I recall a merchant confessing to me that the number one red wine that people were requesting at the time was pinot, but they didn’t want to pay for it. The problem with pinot noir is that it’s a finicky grape that’s sensitive to wind, frost, soil types, and pruning techniques. It likes cool climates and yields must be low to produce serious wines. When you put this all together, you have a costly wine to produce.

However, there are a lot of reasons to love pinot noir and to justify the cost of a good bottle. I’ve had many friends express that if they could start their cellars over from scratch, they would buy nothing but burgundy. Pinot can be ripe, suave, and sexy, or it can be earthy, wild, and lean. From Burgundy, it can create wines that last decades, and in New Zealand, it can make rich, plummy examples that are hard to resist upon release. It’s a grape that is sensitive to terroir, much more than most, and can express the region it’s grown in better than any I know. With pinot, there’s something for everyone, which is why we must talk about food.

You see, pinot noir is not your average red grape, and if you think that a medium-rare Porterhouse steak is the way to go, think again. Each region gives us a unique expression and a new challenge. So, let’s take a look at pairing pinot noir.

Click here to find pairings for Pinot Noir.

— Eric Guido, Snooth

The Ultimate Guide to New Zealand Pinot Noir Food and Wine Pairing

We at Winerist love August for many reasons (glorious sunshine, summer holidays and delicious fresh produce out of the garden, to name but a few) but the thing we are most looking forward to in the upcoming weeks is the chance to talk about one of our favourite red grape varieties … Pinot Noir! Pinot Noir Day takes place each year one August 18 th , we and all our Pinot-loving friends around the world will be uniting to celebrate one of the most legendary grapes of all time.

We love Pinots from all around the world, from ethereal red Burgundy to cool climate Chilean, but one of our favourites is undoubtedly New Zealand with its bright, bold, energetic reds. New Zealand Pinot Noir has a personality and character all its own, with high acidity, silky tannin structure and a wide array of buoyant, bright fruit flavours. Not only do these characteristics make Kiwi Pinot a fantastic drinking red in its own right, but they also mean that these wines make the perfect pairing partner for a wide variety of delicious dishes.

New Zealand is just as well-known for the outstanding quality of its cuisine and exceptional local produce as it is for winemaking, and no Pinot Noir Day celebration would be complete without talking about some of New Zealand’s best food and wine combinations. In true Winerist style, we’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to and put together our ultimate guide to New Zealand Pinot Noir food and wine pairing. All you need to do is choose your favourites and indulge!

Offering immediate drinking pleasure without sacrificing the complexity and nuance that makes this grape so compelling. A wine brimming with seductive fruit alluring aromas and supple tannins. The consummate overachiever.

The Paring Pinot Noir 2018

  • AVA: Santa Barbara County
  • BARREL AGING Aged in French oak (35% new and 65% neutral) for 11 months. Coopers include D&J, Francois Frères, and Remond.
  • Cases Produced: 2000
  • 89 Points Antonio Galloni Vinous August 2020
  • 92 Points Jeb Dunnuck August 2020

Winemaker's Notes: Completely seductive wine. Nose of blackberries and rosemary. Succulent and sweet red fruit. Savory notes and mouth coating tannins round out this harmonious and complete pinot noir.

The Paring Pinot Noir 2017

  • AVA: Santa Barbara County
  • BARREL AGING Aged in French oak (35% new and 65% neutral) for 11 months. Coopers include D&J, Francois Frères, and Remond.
  • Bottled unfined and unfiltered
  • 1583 Cases Produced
  • 91 Points Jeb Dunnuck
  • 89 Points Antonio Galloni Vinous

Winemaker's Notes: Completely seductive wine. Nose of blackberries and rosemary. Succulent and sweet red fruit. Savory notes and mouth coating tannins round out this harmonious and complete pinot noir.

The Paring Pinot Noir 2016

  • Santa Barbara County
  • Aged in French oak (35% new and 65% neutral) for 11 months. Coopers include D&J, Francois Frères, and Remond.
  • Bottled Unfined and Unfiltered
  • Cases Produced 2024
  • 89 Points Antonio Galloni Vinous September 2018
  • 91 Points Jeb Dunnuck October 2018

Winemaker's Notes: Completely seductive wine. Nose of blackberries and rosemary. Succulent and sweet red fruit. Savory notes and mouth coating tannins round out this harmonious and complete pinot noir.

The Paring Pinot Noir 2015

  • Sta. Rita Hills
  • Aged in French oak (35% new and 65% neutral) for 11 months. Coopers include D&J, Francois Frères, and Remond.
  • Bottled Unfined and Unfiltered
  • 1250 Cases Produced

Winemaker's Notes: Completely seductive wine. Nose of blackberries and rosemary. Succulent and sweet red fruit. Savory notes and mouth coating tannins round out this harmonious and complete pinot noir.

The Paring Pinot Noir 2014

  • Santa Barbara County
  • Aged in French oak (35% new and 65% neutral) for 11 months. Coopers include D&J, Francois Frères, and Remond.
  • Unfined and unfiltered
  • 1,822 Cases Produced

Winemaker's Notes: Smokey, herbal and resinous with perfumed red fruit. Sandalwood and black tea. Black plums and Chinese five spice. Green peppercorn. Elegant and understated on palate with savory notes and bright cherry. Finishes long. Subtle notes of dried strawberry linger on the finish with gentle tannins. The most elegant and fine Paring Pinot Noir to date a wine to enjoy today with roast chicken and fingerling potatoes…or any f ood t o be hones t.

The Paring Pinot Noir 2013

  • 100% Pinot Noir
  • Santa Barbara County
  • Aged in French oak (35% new and 65% neutral) for 11 months
  • Coopers include D&J, Francois Frères, and Remond
  • Unfined and unfiltered
  • 1500 cases produced

Winemaker's Notes: Floral and perfumed nose of roses and fresh strawberries. Underlying the brightness on the nose, is a wine of earthy power and complexity the perfect combination for pinot noir. Ripe raspberry fruit and hibiscus tea on the velvet palate along with subtle smoke, anise and pepper spice. Fine, dusty tannins and freshness from vibrant acidity on the finish. A wine that speaks volumes about the bright sunshine of the vint age and the deep r oots of our matur e vines.

The Paring Pinot Noir 2012

Winemaker's Notes: Showcases the perfect ripeness of the classic 2012 vintage. Aromas of black cherry, balsamic-fig jam, dried strawberry and sweet tobacco. Earthy and herbal notes of dried sage and morel mushrooms appear with time in glass. Bright and generous red fruit dominates the velvety and rich mid palate. The overall feel is one of plush fruit with hints of smoke-driven old vine complexity and charming, dusty tannin. A soft, refined and eminently drinkable Paring Pinot Noir. A stunner.

The Paring Pinot Noir 2011

Winemaker's Notes: Displays the cool, long growing season to perfection. Essence of candied cherries and cigar tobacco. A perfumed nose of exotic spices and black tea. Heady and vivid notes of rose petals, leaf litter, fresh clean earth and black pepper. Its balance between a distinct vinous note and the deep vein of fruit is so inviting. Ripe fruit on the palate, but also very light and vibrant. Lingering acidity and subtle tannins leave an ending impression of elegance and charm. Utterly drinkable at this stage. My favorite Paring Pinot Noir to date. All that is good about the combination of old vines and Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir.

The Paring Pinot Noir 2010

Winemaker's Notes: There's a strong statement from the old vines in this wine. First, all things black: black plum, black cherry, black pepper, black olive and black tea. Then all things from the earth: wet soil, mushroom, leaf underbrush, pine needles and beet root. Smoked meat, campfire notes and a minty freshness. Complex and ever changing nose that usually shows its brooding side, occasionally flirts with a floral aspect but always begs to be paired with food. Bright red cherry and dark plum intertwine on the attack with strong elements of spice and smoke. From there the earth-driven notes add a touch of dusty tannin that slowly resolves into a fruit-laden finish. A fascinating ride through the dark side of pinot noir courtesy of the deep-rooted and wise, old vines.

The Paring Pinot Noir 2009

Winemaker's Notes: Aromatically, the 2009 Paring pinot noir has a savory/sweet balance of complex resin notes—underbrush, pine forest, cedar, incense—alongside a healthy dollop of black cherry and raspberry. Then, as a nod to the wine’s cool, windy climate, a black pepper note emerges. The palate is round and supple, yet focused with a solid core of ripe red fruit and spice. Background notes of mineral, smoke and sea brine represent the gifts of age from the older vines. Bright red fruit and the signature Sta. Rita Hills acidity maintain a delicate balance and great length in the wine.

The Paring Pinot Noir 2008

Winemaker's Notes: The 2008 exhibits the haunting earthiness that only old vines can produce. Classic Pinot Noir nose of brambles, cherry and spice combined with exotic and brooding aromas of black fruit, smoke, tapenade, grilled meat and sanguine notes. Earth, chanterelles and forest floor. The aromas of a mushroom hunt. Bright red cherry and raspberry with a velvet texture. Pure red fruit on the palate. Intense concentration and power, combined with an elegant side and a finish that introduces more smoke, vinous notes and earthiness.

The Paring Pinot Noir 2007

Winemaker's Notes: The 2007 Pinot Noir expresses the great purity that can be achieved from young Santa Rita Hills fruit. A dizzying array of dark chocolate, cake batter, black licorice, lifted black cherry, plums, black pepper, thyme and cured meats. Floral and perfumed. Velvet fruit on the entry. Plum skin. Bright red fruit and spice dominate on the palate. Pure cherry lingers on the finish.

Best Cheese Pairing for Sonoma Chardonnay: Brie or Camembert

Courtesy of Facebook: Marin French Cheese Company

Because chardonnay is a fuller bodied, often buttery wine, it makes sense that a creamy, high-fat cheese like brie or camembert is an ideal pairing.

At Marin French Cheese Company, you’ll find plenty of options when it comes to rich, soft cheeses. As the longest continually operating cheese company in the United States, founded in 1865, this beautiful creamery in West Marin welcomes visitors daily to sample cheese and picnic by the pond.

When you’re ready to sip chardonnay, head to Sonoma-Cutrer, known for their award-winning chardonnay and pinot noir sourced from vineyards throughout the region. And over in Kenwood, St. Francis Winery is a Sonoma staple offering limited-production chardonnay from their 22 acres of chardonnay vines, in addition to many other varietals.

Pairing Food with Aged Pinot Noir

You’ve waited almost 20 years to drink a bottle of 2002 Marcassin—but what foods should you pair with it? There’s much more pressure to find the perfect Pinot Noir food pairing when you’re serving an aged wine. You’ll also want to keep in mind that aged Pinot Noir will taste earthier and more complex than young vintages, which will affect which foods pair best with it.

The occasion will also dictate which type of food you should serve with your aged wine.

The ideal pairings for a Pinot Noir that is more than ten years old are gamey poultry or amuse-bouches that are topped with truffle shavings or truffle oil. Game dishes like pheasant or squab are light, yet they also have a greater complexity of flavor than chicken or turkey. Likewise, anything flavored with truffles will bring out the earthy flavors in the wine. However, my personal favorite food to eat with aged Pinot Noir is a soft, mild cheese the cheese has just enough flavor to excite the palate between sips of wine. The occasion will also dictate which type of food you should serve with your aged wine. If you’re opening the wine for a special anniversary dinner, then gamey poultry is an excellent pairing. Likewise, if you’re bringing the wine to a tasting event or party, then small appetizers or cheese will be most appropriate. And finally, if you want to write accurate tasting notes for the wine, it’s best to serve it on its own, without any food accompaniment.

The Best Pinot Noir Food Pairings Ideas

An enjoyable Pinot Noir food pairing is easy to achieve because Pinot Noir goes well with so many different types of cuisine. It’s one of the lightest red wines around, so it can match with lighter foods without overwhelming them. But because it is a red wine, Pinot Noir also compliments a number of meats, as long as they are not too fatty. If you are looking for a red wine pairing, Pinot Noir is a great option because of its lighter structure. Even richer seafood like lobster or crab that many people would commonly pair with white wine can be complimented by Pinot Noir.

When pairing Pinot Noir with food, it’s critical that it be served correctly. Pinot Noir, more than any other popular red wine, changes its taste depending on the temperature at which it’s served. We strongly recommend visiting the Pinot Noir page in our main site to learn how best to serve it so you get the most out of your Pinot Noir and food paring. Click here to learn how best to serve it, how long to age it and plenty of other useful tips to insure your food and wine pairing is it best.

For ideas on which types of food pair best with your Pinot Noir, read on …

Pinot Noir Food Pairing Suggestions

Need ideas for Pinot Noir food pairings? Look for the following types of meals:

  • Roasted or grilled pork with lighter marinades or dry rub
    Pork often goes well with Pinot Noir because its a leaner meat than beef. Just avoid the fattier cuts. Fattier meats need heavier tannins to “sweep” the fats off of your taste buds which Pinot Noir’s lighter structure doesn’t have. Try these simply grilled pork chops.
  • Duck, Pheasant or other “gamier” fowl
    The gamier meats like duck can overwhelm a lighter wine because of the stronger flavor and/or heavier fat content than chicken. Pairing duck with Pinot Noir is a great choice in particular because it has more fat than most other fowl (although still very light as compared to beef or lamb) and Pinot’s tannins, light though they may be, effectively compliment them. Roast duck is a perfect accompaniment.
  • Salmon or other stronger fish
    Pair salmon with Pinot Noir because of its strong, distinctive flavor and heavier oil content where white wines would often be overwhelmed. Other fish to pair with Pinot Noir are anchovies, herring, mackerel and mullet. Salmon with a mild butter sauce pairs well with Pinot Noir.
  • Lobster, shrimp or crab as long as it is not in a cream sauce
    Honestly, Pinot Noir is not the most natural wine pairing for these crustaceans, but if you really are not a fan of white wines but want something with your shellfish, Pinot Noir would be the best red to choose. Avoid the heavier cream sauces with Pinot Noir however because its tannins and particularly any acids it may have will react with the cream. Dishes like this simple spicy garlic shrimp recipe finished with just a touch of cream should be OK though. Dishes with a little more spice work best with Pinot Noir.
  • Pasta with pesto or lighter tomato cream sauces
    Pesto’s strong herbal flavor is complimented nicely by Pinot Noir as well as some of the refreshing white wines. Heavier tomato based sauce will overwhelm Pinot Noir’s lighter body but if it is cut with wine, broth or a touch of cream, Pinot will often work well. Mix your Pesto with a little tomato to give it a little more body to compliment the Pinot Noir. This recipe shows whole cherry tomatoes but I like to finely chop and sear them so the tomato flavor is blended throughout the pasta.
  • Mushrooms in a light wine sauce
    Mushrooms sautéed with red wine is a natural pairings. The delicate flavor of the mushroom pairs perfectly with Pinot Noir’s mild red flavor. Try this recipe.

Other General Guidelines and Classic Meals

Perhaps the classic food pairing with Pinot Noir is Beef Bourguignon, which is often cooked with Pinot Noir. Although beef is not a natural food pairing partner for Pinot Noir, lightly marinated beef tenderloin or Filet Mignon will work nicely because it is a lean meat. Pinot Noir’s lighter tannin structure pairs well because there is not a lot of fat marbled through the cuts but the flavor has enough substance to stand up to the stronger beef flavor.

If you wish to pair a wine with cheese, it’s not easy with Pinot Noir. But if you prefer red wines to white, softer cheeses like Brie or Camembert can be a nice compliment

Remember, the key to serving any wine is to serve it correctly. Too often wines are served too young, at the wrong temperature or in the wrong type of glass. To learn more about serving Pinot Noir, check our encyclopedia entry. You’ll find lots of useful information about aging and serving Pinot Noir.

Pairing Pinot Noir with Food

Pairing Pinot Noir with food is one of the best ways I know of to up your dinner game. After all, this variety of red wine is generally lighter in body and lower in tannin than most red wines. Those qualities can make it quite food friendly. Think of Pinot Noir as a refined dinner date that offers engaging conversation while gradually revealing its sophisticated personality.

Location Matters

Here in the Pacific Northwest, incredible examples of Pinot Noir can be found in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. While attending the Wine Writers Educational Tour in August, I was taken on a far-reaching journey, exploring the diverse characteristics of the AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) within this region.

Tasting Oregon Pinot Noir is the Best Way to Understand It

The Dundee Hills AVA is generally known for producing Pinot Noir that is red fruit oriented. By contrast, the Yamhill-Carlton AVA can tend to produce wines with riper, blue fruit characteristics.

Wines from the Eola-Amity Hills AVA were explained by Shane Moore, Winemaker at Zena Crown, as depicting circular shapes.

“Elevation is a big dictator of the wine you’re going to get,” remarked Luisa Ponzi, second generation winemaker at Ponzi Vineyards.

Winemaking Matters

Not only do different vineyard sources influence what’s in bottle, winemakers have different styles. For example, winemaker Erik Kramer of WillaKenzie is looking for “flavor town” when making picking decisions.

By contrast, Aaron Bell, winemaker at Domaine Drouhin, is “looking for liquid cashmere.”

What does this all boil down to when selecting a recipe to serve with a bottle of Pinot Noir? It means that those softer, circular wines can work with lighter fare. Alternately, those riper styles can make a nice counterpoint to a fattier, hearty dish. Below are some further guidelines to help pair Pinot Noir with dinner.

Flavors in Pinot Noir

Consider the flavors of the wine, and create a match by incorporating or complementing those flavors in the food:

Base Ingredients

Start with one of these proteins to pair with Pinot Noir:
Tuna (think Ahi/seared or grilled)
Pork (to be clear, this includes bacon and sausages)

Bridge Ingredients

And/or include ingredients that connect the wine with the food:
Dijon Mustard

Suggested Dishes for Pairing Pinot Noir

  • Consider Pinot Noir for a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner.
  • Following the classic “if it grows together it goes together” theory, Pinot Noir and salmon have long been a definitive Northwest pairing.
  • One of my personal favorite Sunday dinners to serve with Pinot Noir is Braised Chicken in White Wine and Mustard by “On Rue Tatin” author Susan Hermann Loomis.
  • Check out the Willamette Valley Wine website for a recipe from Left Coast Cellars for Pinot Noir Braised Short Ribs.

If you’re hungry for more wine and food pairing, check out these posts:

More Traditional Pinot Noir Matches

If you’re looking to make a more traditional pairing for your Pinot Noir, try these classics:

  • Duck – works just as well with duck a l’orange and Peking duck pancakes. A true wine and food pairing made in heaven.
  • Rabbit, Quail and other Game – Delicate gamey flavours work better with lighter, less overpowering reds like Pinot Noir.
  • Mushroom and Truffle – the ‘forest floor’ and funky elements of Pinot Noir align perfectly with mushroom and truffle-flavoured dishes.
  • Beef – whether its Beefsteak and Burgundy, Beef Bourguignon or just a beautifully cooked cut, Pinot Noir works really well as an accompaniment to Beef dishes.

With almost 300 wineries across the Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley, there are a huge range of styles and regional variation in Pinot Noir. Coupled with its natural versatility, you can match it with almost any kind of cuisine.

For more food and wine pairing ideas, check out our Japanese Food and Wine Pairing article.

Bet ya can’t eat just one! A few of these delightful little morsels are a great start to any party. The pastry is impressive but simple, and you can use any of your favorite sausage as filling. • ½ cup water • 4 tbsp. butter • ½ cup flour • 3 eggs • 1 tsp.

This turkey brine makes the most delicious golden brown bird you’ve ever had, and it’s perfect for a wine country Thanksgiving! Sur La Table has brining bags that make the process so much easier and a cinch to clean up. And you gotta love the classic pairing of Pinot Noir and turkey! • 7 quarts

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is the world’s most popular light-bodied red wine. It’s loved for its red fruit, flower, and spice aromas that are accentuated by a long, smooth finish.

Primary Flavors

Taste Profile


    55–60°F / 12-15°C

    Aroma Collector

    30 Minutes

    10+ Years

Food Pairing

A very versatile food pairing wine given it’s higher high acidity and lower tannin. Pinot Noir pairs particularly well with duck, chicken, pork, and mushrooms.

Fun Facts About Pinot Noir

  1. Pinot Noir likely originated in Burgundy, France. (Robinson et al. 808)
  2. Mark your calendar! August 18th is Pinot Noir Day.
  3. Pinot Noir enjoys the same climate as Chardonnay. You’ll often find these two grapes planted close by. uses Pinot Noir (and Pinot Meunier) as its base grape.
  4. Pinot Noir is one of the few red grapes that’s commonly made into red, rosé, white, and sparkling wine!
  5. DNA analysis has revealed that Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc are simply mutations of the same grape! (Regner et al. 2000b)

Pinot Noir vines tend to prefer more intermediate climates with long, cool growing seasons. For this reason, you’ll often find Pinot Noir growing in protected valleys or near large bodies of water.

French Pinot Noir vineyards near Gevrey-Chambertin in late May. Notice the limestone-clay (marl) soils. Photo by Anna & Michal

French Pinot Noir

Flavors: Cherry, Hibiscus, Rose Petal, Mushroom, Potting Soil

Pinot Noir wines are made in a few places throughout France but the most famous region – by far – is Burgundy (aka “Bourgogne.”)

The world’s most coveted Pinot Noir vines grow on a narrow, east-facing slope just South of Dijon. Burgundy is a very old wine region and was first tended by Cistercian monks in the Middle Ages.

When tasting French Pinot Noir, you may note its more earthy and floral style. This is part of Burgundy’s terroir. In fact, many fine winemakers here choose to ferment with whole grape clusters to increase tannin in their Pinot Noir wines. This effort may result in bitterness early on, but results in wines that age 20+ years.

Looking into the morning fog in Sonoma Valley from Hanzell Vineyards during harvest. By Hanzell Vineyards

California Pinot Noir

Flavors: Cherry, Raspberry, Allspice, Darjeeling Tea, Vanilla

The United States is very diverse. That said, the lion’s share of American Pinot Noir wines come from California. While California might otherwise be too warm for this grape, you’ll find Pinot Noir excels in places that receive cooling breezes (and morning fog) from the Pacific Ocean. The ocean moderates the temperatures in places like Sonoma, Southern Napa Valley, and the Central Coast (including Santa Barbara.)

California Pinot Noir is typically rich, fruity, and lush in style. The ample sun and controlled temperatures make it easy for winemakers to pick at the perfect moment when ripeness is optimal. Besides brooding rich fruit flavors, many of these wines have subtle allspice undertones from aging in imported French oak barrels.

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Watch the video: Pinot Noir: Everything You Need to Know - Including Suggested Food Pairings (June 2022).