Best Pinot Noir Food Pairing Options: Meat, Cheese & More

Many avid wine aficionados agree that Pinot Noir is one of the best wines you’ll ever encounter. In fact, this wine is so tasty and versatile that it’s regarded as one of the most popular red wines across the globe.

There’s also no denying that some foods are just more enjoyable when they’re served with the right wine. Ideally, the right pairing enhances your dining experience and ultimately makes your meal so much more enjoyable!

One of the reasons Pinot Noir is so popular is its versatility with a wide range of different foods. This article will explore a few of the traditional and not-so-traditional pairings that you can experience with Pinot Noir. We’ll also take a look at a few popular kinds of cheese you can pair with Pinot Noir. Keep reading to get some tips for your next dinner pairing with your favorite Pinot Noir!

Why Pinot Noir is one of the Best Food Pairing Options

One of the key points to hosting the perfect dinner involves combining food with a wine that not only accentuates the flavor of the food but the wine too. Wine and food pairing have come a long way since the age-old rule of red with red and white with white.

Not all red wines work well with all red meats. Some make a considerably better pairing than others because of their acidity and tannins. Where does that leave a quality wine like Pinot Noir? Read on to find out!

A Short History About Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a well-known red wine that’s usually light to medium-bodied. You can expect a fruity flavor profile made up of berries and wild cherries. Earthy notes of herbs and spices are also present, but not overwhelming.

Born and still produced in the Burgundy region of France, Pinot Noir is often referred to as Red Burgundy. With an aroma of mushrooms and freshly fallen damp leaves, Pinot Noir has always been a firm favorite among wine enthusiasts.

What’s so Special About Pinot Noir Grapes?

The secret to the Pinot Noir taste comes from the grapes. Pinot grapes are thin-skinned and as a result, feature low levels of phenolic compounds. This leads to a lighter-colored, medium-bodied low tannin that cuts through the fats of many foods.

Young Pinot Noirs tend to feature red fruity aromas of strawberries, raspberries and cherries. Another feature that makes Pinot special is that the subtle flavors get “cooked” inside the grape’s thin skin from the heat and sun. Interestingly, Pinot grapes thrive in areas known as the coldest French wine regions.

What Should You Eat with Pinot Noir?

What Should You Eat with Pinot Noir

Aside from the well-balanced taste, a fact that makes Pinot Noir so popular with wine drinkers is its ability to pair well with many different dishes. In fact, Pinot Noir is a popular choice for a dinner table for where guests are eating contrasting meals.

Traditional Meal Pairings with Pinot Noir

There are a number of traditional meals that work well with a Pinot Noir including the following:

  • Beef: Pinot Noir pairs well with any beef dish. Whether you’ve opted for a steak, a juicy Beef Bourguignons, or a beef brisket, a Pinot Noir is by far the most popular wine option to complement the robust, beef flavors.
  • Duck: Many wine aficionados will agree that the flavors of duck a l’orange and Pinot Noir create a heavenly pairing!
  • Mushroom and truffle: Mushrooms and truffles are notorious for having a “forest floor”, earthy flavor. These earthy flavors mix very well with a light-bodied Pinot Noir.
  • Rabbit and other wild game: It’s no secret that the delicate gamey flavors of rabbit, venison and other game work well with a light, less overpowering red such as the Pinot Noir.

Unusual Pairings with Pinot Noir

If you’re looking for a different food pairing with your chilled Pinot Noir, you might want to consider the following:

  • Vegetables: Anyone who loves vegetables will tell you, vegetable dishes often feature strong flavors that rely on their sauces to dictate the right wine pairing. Whether you’re having caramelized Brussel sprouts, roasted beetroot or even creamy cauliflower, Pinot Noir balances out an assortment of veggie flavors. The fruity flavor of the wine pairs exceptionally well with a strong tomato profile. It’s a common accompaniment with stir fry vegetables.
  • Barbecue: Pinot Noirs’ natural cherry characteristics are the perfect accompaniment to the smoky, robust flavors you associate with barbecue meat. A few favorite barbecue favorites to pair with Pinot Noir include pork skewers, smoked steak, ribeye and even barbecued chicken. Notably, anything wrapped in bacon produces a delicious flavor that pairs exceptionally well with a chilled glass of Pinot Noir.
  • Fish: While shellfish and oysters don’t really pair well with Pinot Noir, the same can’t be said for other types of fish. Any Pinot Noir with a lighter tannin will make an exquisite pairing with smoked fish, flaky fish such as trout and even Salmon.
  • Lamb: Pinot Noir isn’t usually the wine of choice when it comes to the perfect wine for lamb dishes. However, it’s worth noting that it actually comes down to the cut and method of cooking that determines the right wine pairing. A medium-bodied Pinot Noir will easily complement a rack of lamb served with fresh herbs. Pairing Pinot Noir with lamb souvlaki or even lamb sausages is another unusual but great combo!
  • Charcuterie: Charcuterie boards and cured meats make a wonderful meal if they’re matched with a wine like Pinot Noir with a light tannin that cuts through the fats. Additionally, the rich, robust flavors of terrine or pâte match the subtle smoky Pinot Noir profiles.
  • Roasted chicken or turkey: The complexity of Pinot Noir’s flavor profile allows it to be a good pairing with a roasted chicken, despite it being white meat. Added herbs on the chicken or turkey, such as Origanum make for a very tasty flavor profile!
  • Pasta dishes: Since Pinot Noirs, earthy undertones pair well with both cheese and tomato, it’s no surprise that it makes an exceptional pairing for cheese or tomato-based pasta dishes. Dishes such as meatballs with marinara sauce or traditional pesto sauces are only enhanced by the light tannins of a chilled Pinot Noir. Mushroom risottos are a popular combination.

What Cheese is Best Paired with Pinot Noir?

What Cheese is Best Paired with Pinot Noir

Any wine aficionado knows few things are as enjoyable as a glass of good wine paired with a variety of good cheeses. Pinot Noir is no different. Essentially, Pinot Noir is very versatile with many different kinds of cheese.

Notably, the only cheese you should avoid serving with Pinot Noir is strong, stinky cheeses which tend to overwhelm the fruitiness of such a delicate grape. For the most part, sheep’s milk cheese varieties make the best Pinot Noir pairing.

Some of the more popular cheese pairings include the following:

  • Zamorano: This sheep’s milk cheese originates from Spain and features a buttery, salty, nutty flavor. Combining Zamorano with the fruity Pinot Noir creates a unique taste experience.
  • Abbaye de Belloc: As a sheep’s milk cheese from the French region of Basque, this cheese has a dense, firm and creamy rich texture. Despite its richness, it doesn’t overwhelm the Pinot Noir.
  • Sottocenere: As an Italian cheese, Sottocenere features an earthy truffle flavor and is considered a remarkable match to the fruity tones of Pinot Noir.
  • Cheddar: A light farmhouse cheddar makes for a great table cheese or grated into sauces or soups served with a Pinot Noir. If you’re going to use cheddar, try the Young Cantal as it has a fresh, open-textured flavor that complements the fruitiness of a Pinot Noir.
  • Roucoulons: Soft cheeses like the French cows’ milk cheese with a hint of earthy, mushroom components that require a wine with enough acidity to cut through its creamy texture. While it’s a cheese that’s not very popular in the U.S., people who do enjoy it love to pair it with a Pinot Noir.

Related Read: Wine And Cheese Pairing Guidelines

What Food Shouldn’t be Paired with Pinot Noir?

One of the general food pairing rules with wine is to drink red wine with red meat and white wine with fish, seafood and white meats. This rule doesn’t really apply to pairing white meat such as chicken with Pinot Noir.

Food experts recommend not pairing Pinot Noir with delicate kinds of seafood such as oysters and shellfish. The reason for this stems mostly from the higher tannins in the Red Burgundy which often contrast the salty flavors of some seafood dishes.

How Does Pinot Noir Pair with Steak?

Since Pinot Noir wines are mostly light to medium-bodied, their flavor profile pairs very well with most steak dinners. With a natural acidity, berry fruit flavor it complements just about any cut of steak. In addition to serving it as the drink of choice, it’s also a great idea to add some to the marinade or sauce of the steak. It’s a great way to enrich the robust flavor that makes steak dishes so popular!

How Should Pinot Noir be Chilled?

Most red wines are ideally served just under room temperature. Pinot Noir, however, isn’t like most red wines in this instance. To enjoy the subtler strengths of a Pinot Noir, it’s a good idea to serve it between 55-60°F, which makes it slightly more chilled than the average red. Since this Red Burgundy also has a delicious aroma, it’s a good idea to serve it in a large, bell-shaped glass.

Final Thought

If you love a chilled glass of Pinot Noir, the good news is, there are a lot of different foods you can pair it with! Whether you’re opting for a meal of duck or lamb or planning to have a family barbecue, there’s no need to stress about what the best wine will be! Simply invest in a few bottles of chilled Pinot Noir and watch how your dining experience is enhanced!

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