Wine pairing for smoked foods?

I had a wine pairing that was shockingly bad last night, and wondered what you all think might have worked better. I had a peppery piece of salmon that I thought was “lightly” smoked. I chose Pinot Noir to go with it. It was smokier than I expected, and two clashed horribly. I actually couldn’t drink the wine with the food at all, they tasted so gross together by making a really off-putting metallic flavor.

I rarely experience such a nasty clash.

So what went wrong here? What would you recommend with a hunk of smoked salmon? I know Zin is a go-to with BBQ, but seemed too big & bold for fish.


My first thought was Chenin Blanc. I could see a number of potential pairings: Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc, Champagne, or Gruner. If you had to go red (and I think white would work better) I’d say a lighter bodied Syrah or Beaujolais.

I’ll wait for other responses so I’ll know where I went wrong.


smoked trout and chenin is a great match. salmon works but isn’t as ideal IMO

I do wonder if all of the issue was the smoke and whether some might have been the pepper?

Would think the pepper is a big part of the issue and would make the pairing tricky. I remember a pepper salami pairing very poorly with a Pinot noir a couple of years ago.

Might suggest an off dry Riesling or champagne to cut the pepper. Both work with the smoked fish too.


Riesling, particularly one with some residual sugar (e.g., a German QbA, Kabinett or Spatlese). There’s no better match for smoked fish, in my experience.

Dry riesling works, too, but you don’t get all the floral and fruit action you do out of off-dry ones.

I can see a full-bodied chenin blanc, too. A lot of Vouvrays have some residual sugar, which brings out their fruit and plays off the fat in the fish.

(I think the pinot-with-salmon notion is very overrated, particularly if the fish is served relatively unadorned. I think reds only work with salmon if it’s cooked with some kind of sauce or garnishment so the wine plays off that rather than the fish.)


Rose vinho verde


Maybe a 2008 Anderson Valley Pinot?

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Was the salmon really smoked, or was it some store bought hunk with liquid smoke flavoring? I have always enjoyed a pairing of smoked salmon (home brined and smoked) with Pinot Noir. Too bad it didn’t work for you. Cheers!

A little Pouilly-Fumé to go with your Saumon Fumé?

I’ll see myself out.

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I’m with Corey on this one, but would lean towards Champagne myself (when in doubt, go with bubbles!). Because I lack ingenuity, I usually fall back to the book What to Drink With What You Eat.


Same here I consult the book, but then drink what I want. Can’t believe no one mentioned Bachelet.

Whenever I open a pack of Catsmo smoked salmon I get a craving for Champagne.

Before it was a million dollars, Grange.


Oregon pinot but only from 2020.

Teasing aside, I agree with @John_Morris riesling with a little sweetness. I love smoked haddock big time and Kabinett or Spatlese is a terrific match.

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Champagne, rosé champagne, or off-dry Riesling, not necessarily in that order but the first that came to mind.

As much as I love Chenin and it’s a terrific match with smoked white meat fish, my first choice with smoked salmon would be an Alsatian Pinot Gris, followed by Riesling.

This is cool, thanks for the link. Wonder if the kindle edition is worth going for so it’s always handy?

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With smoked fish, I always go with a high acid Riesling; trocken, Kabinett (maybe spätlese? If that’s your thing). Lighter bodied Riesling to white fish, more full bodied to heavier flavoured fish.
Alternative beer! :beer:

I have been tempted many times to get that edition and have never had a good reason not to. I imagine flipping through the pages on the Kindle to find the particular food or wine could be annoying, though.

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Well I gone and dunnit. Kindle, that is. Keep you posted… :grinning::grinning: