I’m not going to lie, I’ve put off this Pinot Noir food pairing guide for quite some time. Believe it or not, even after nearly 2 decades in the wine industry, I’m still a little intimidated by Pinot Noir. That’s mostly because some of the best (and most expensive!) wines in the world are made from the Pinot Noir grape, and quite frankly I haven’t been able to taste or try most of them.
That being said though, I realized, well, most of my readers aren’t drinking Domaine de la Romanee-Conti either! This Pinot Noir food pairing is for Pinot Noir lovers that aren’t rolling too deep and who just want to know the best foods to pair with their favorite Pinot Noir.
Reading: Best food with pinot noir
But first, the basics.
What is Pinot Noir?
Pinot Noir is a red grape variety that produces light to medium body, fruity & earthy, often complex dry red wines. It is one of the most revered grapes in the world.
Where is Pinot Noir from?
Pinot Noir originally comes from the wine region of Burgundy in France. Although it is a notoriously difficult grape variety to grow, many winemakers worldwide produce it. Some places, however, stand out for their Pinot Noir quality. Pinot Noir grows best in cool climates.
Best Regions for Pinot Noir
- Burgundy: Burgundy is where Pinot Noir is from. Burgundy is synonymous with Pinot Noir.
- Oregon, USA: the cool climate of Oregon is ideal for growing Pinot Noir grapes.
- Russian River, California: Pinot Noir from California is renowned for its bolder character compared to the classic version.
- Central Otago, New Zealand: the silky texture and fruit density make Pinot Noir from New Zealand stand out.
- Champagne: Pinot Noir is one of the three grape varieties that makes Champagne. If you see the words Blanc de Noir on a Champagne label, it is predominantly Pinot Noir.
What does Pinot Noir Smell like?
Pinot Noir is a complex grape variety, earthy and strawberry aromas dominate its profile. You will pick up smells like mushrooms, barnyard, and even wet leaves. Notes of mint, cinnamon, and cherry will also be found in Pinot Noir’s smell.
What does Pinot Noir Taste like?
Like it happens with its aromas, Pinot Noir has complex flavors ranging from fruits, such as strawberry, cherry, and raspberry, to vanilla and mushrooms. If aged in oak, you may also feel a note of baking spice complementing its earthy and herb flavors.
Characteristics of Pinot Noir to Consider when Pairing Food
Pinot Noir is a dry red with a light to medium body and bright acidity. If you also account for its silky tannins, you understand why it makes such a great pair with pork, salmon, and other tender meat dishes. Pinot Noir is also an excellent red wine choice with vegetarian dishes. Read on for even more specific food pairings with Pinot Noir. If you want to take a deep-dive into how food and wine pairing works, check out my eBook, A Sommelier’s Secrets to Wine and Food Pairing.
Pinot Noir Food Pairing List
Here is all you need to know about Pinot Noir food pairing! I’ve organized this list so you can include Pinot Noir with any type of food and for any time of day.
Snacks with Pinot Noir
If you are looking for something light to serve with a glass of Pinot Noir, butter crackers, salami, or soft goat cheese will be excellent candidates. Nuts and dried fruit are also great snacks with Pinot Noir. One of my personal favorite snacks with Pinot Noir are classic Doritos chips. For a full list of snacks with red wine, check out this post.
Appetizers for Pinot Noir
Pinot Noir pairs well with different charcuterie, including peppery salamis and stinky cheeses. However, if there is one food ingredient that can turn any kind of appetizer into a perfect match with Pinot Noir, that would be mushrooms. Especially stuffed ones! After all, the taste and smell of mushrooms are strong in Pinot Noir itself.
Try these appetizers with Pinot Noir.
- Stuffed mushrooms
- Asparagus wrapped in bacon
- Red pepper hummus and pita
- Cranberry nut goat cheese bites
- Savory cheesecake
Pizza and Pinot Noir
Pizza lovers already know how well pizza pair with Pinot Noir, but what is the reason behind this blissful harmony? It all boils down to two words: cheese and mushrooms. These two ingredients work miracles when mixed with Pinot Noir on your palate. More pizza and wine pairings here.
Best Pizza Toppings with Pinot Noir
- Mushroom pizza
- Veggie-lovers pizza
- Bacon and onion pizza
- Eggplant pizza
Sandwiches with Pinot Noir
As long as you include quality goat cheese and lean, tender meat, your sandwich will match and elevate Pinot Noir. For example, Croquet Monsieur is a grilled cheese sandwich with slices of ham. Its crisp and buttery crust is what you will love the most when you serve it with Pinot Noir. Portobello mushroom sandwiches are also great with Pinot Noir. Even a basic grilled chicken sandwich is great with Pinot Noir. Also worth noting is that their is an entire food and wine pairing book called Big Macs & Burgundy. I’ve never had to combo but I can’t imagine it’s bad.
Chicken and poultry dishes that pair with Pinot Noir
Chicken and Pinot Noir make an excellent pair, especially if you choose a fruitier, less tannic style of Pinot Noir. Miso chicken with mushrooms, chicken Marsala with a creamy mustard sauce, or even grilled chicken are great poultry dishes to serve with a glass of Pinot Noir! Pinot Noir is also my go-to wine with Turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.
Pinot Noir Food Pairing: Meat Dishes
The earthy flavors and light tannic structure of Pinot Noir make it an excellent wine to pair with many light meat dish. Pinot Noir goes especially well with game meats like venison, rabbit, and duck. Pinot Noir also pairs with lean cuts meat like Filet Mignon or tender lamb lollipops. More Pinot Noir meat pairings follow.
Pork with Pinot Noir
Pork and Pinot Noir is a combination that can never go wrong, especially if you consider their shared characteristics, such as their smoky undertone. As a result, pork tenderloin and any roast pork perfectly match Pinot Noir.
Rabbit with Pinot Noir
Rabbit is another tender meat that, if cooked right, will blend wonderfully with the bright acidity and tannins of Pinot Noir. There’s a Greek rabbit stew dish with lots of onions and herbs that is truly excellent with Pinot Noir.
Lamb with Pinot Noir
Another no-brainer option to serve with Pinot Noir is lamb. Once you taste the combo, you will immediately notice how well the fruity and earthy notes of Pinot Noir cover the gamey flavors of lamb. As a Greek, I feel like this is an opportunity for everyone to eat more lamb.
Duck with Pinot Noir
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Duck and Pinot Noir make one of the most classic wine and food pairings. The reason? Duck cooks notoriously well with fruits, and the fruity notes of Pinot Noir are precisely what makes the match work. Above all, the acidity from the wine balances out the fat elements of the duck.
Vegetarian Dishes that Pair with Pinot Noir
The earthy notes of Pinot Noir mean that the wine thrives when combined with vegetarian dishes. Apart from mushroom, which is the obvious choice, veggie risotto, butternut squash, and Brussels sprouts make excellent pairs with Pinot Noir. Plus, herbs like oregano or vegetables like asparagus are also great alternatives. One thing is sure about vegetarian dishes with Pinot Noir: your options are plenty!
Pinot Noir Cheese Pairing
- Goat cheese is probably the one type of cheese that matches best the flavor of Pinot Noir
- Smoked cheeses like Rogue River Blue add a welcoming contrast to the fruity notes of Pinot Noir
- Semi-hard cheeses like Cheddar or Gouda pair great with Pinot Noir
- Sheep’s milk cheeses make another brilliant option to side with Pinot Noir
I hope you’ve enjoyed and learned something from this Pinot Noir food pairing guide. I’ve included some FAQ incase I missed something.
Serving Suggestions for Pinot Noir
When the happy hour comes, and it is time to serve Pinot Noir, remember that wine temperature matters, especially if you care about quality. Make sure the wine is slightly chilled, so put it in the fridge for up to an hour before dinner. Then, you are ready to pour it right into your glass, preferably a bell-shaped one. That way, you won’t miss any of its spectacular aromas!
Frequently Asked Questions about Pinot Noir Food Pairing
What appetizer goes with Pinot Noir?
Thanks to the wine’s earthy notes, mushrooms make the best appetizer for Pinot Noir. At the same time, salamis and cheese are also great alternatives.
What type of cheese goes with Pinot Noir?
Since Pinot Noir is a versatile wine for food pairing, it can go well with various cheese types. However, if there is one type of cheese that blends best with Pinot Noir, that would be goat cheese.
What foods go well with Pinot Noir?
Any tender meat like pork, duck, lamb, even rabbit makes excellent pairings with Pinot Noir, thanks to the wine’s tannins. Fruitier styles of Pinot Noir also go exceptionally well with chicken and fatty fish like salmon.
What should you not pair with Pinot Noir?
Like in all wine pairings, avoid pairing wine with sweeter food. So if you plan to have a dessert with wine, find a sweeter grape variety.
Does Pinot Noir pair with steak?
Yes, especially if you pair Pinot Noir with lean and tender cuts of steak, such as filet mignon.
What vegetable goes with Pinot Noir?
Mushrooms and spring vegetables like asparagus make a great pairing with Pinot Noir.
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