There's A Reason It's So Hard To Find Good Wine Pairings For Salad

Before you on the table is a gorgeous salad. It has tender mixed greens, delicate pea shoots, and it's drizzled with a vibrant homemade vinaigrette. Imagine you also have a glass of chardonnay, a good one from a small producer that favors wild yeast and spendy French oak barrels. If you take a bite of that salad with your $80 chardonnay, you'll find that the wine tastes flat and sweet, not at all worth the money you spent on it. Why is that the case?

Vinaigrette is notoriously tricky to pair with wine because our tastebuds get used to the sourness of the dressing. The acid in the salad dressing also overpowers most wines, making them taste boring and bland or downright sweet. The flavor of vinaigrette dressing — which can come either from vinegar, citrus juice, or a combination of both — is so strong that only a glass of wine with sufficient acidity like a sauvignon blanc will pair well with your salad.

Choose these white wines that have the right acidity

In general, white wines are more acidic than red, but they are not all created equal when it comes to acidity. Your best bet for pairing with a salad is a lean, fresh sauvignon blanc, a glass of champagne (or other good quality, dry sparkling wine), or an off-dry young riesling. These three categories of whites are the most acidic and will serve as the best foil for your vinaigrette.

Fuller-bodied white wines like chardonnay and slightly sweeter sparkling wines like prosecco, tend to lack the acidity you're looking for and they'll fall flat when you sip them after a bite of salad. It's the balance you're looking for in pairing it with food, and an acidic dish begs for a wine that measures up. So, when you've whisked up a lively vinaigrette, chill down a bottle of these types of white wines and you'll have a pairing that's exquisite, with a drink that's just as vibrant as your salad dressing.