As one of the wine world's most versatile, food-friendly red wines, Pinot Noir brings the rich fruit flavors of strawberry, cherry and raspberry to the glass often in a mix of warm spice and earthy undertones. Pinot Noir is often described as having a red wine palate profile and a white wine style, making it popular with both red wine and white wine enthusiasts. To be sure, Pinot Noir tends to be lighter bodied than many of its red wine counterparts (though significant, delicious exceptions do occur) and enjoys more subtle tannin structure due to the thinner skin of the Pinot Noir grape itself. However, it's the combination of great acidity, silky tannins and distinct body that make it so successful for pairing with a tremendous variety of foodie favorites. We've rounded up a variety of About.com recipes to showcase the exceptional food-pairing prowess that Pinot Noir offers to everything from cheese and chocolate to Peking Duck and Roasted Beef Tenderloin.
This may be one of my favorite food pairings to showcase the significant versatility of Pinot Noir. It combines Pinot's affinity for both the smoky flavors of bacon and earth-bound melodies of mushrooms into a delicious (and easy) appetizer. The often lighter-style, subtle tannins and awesome acidity give Pinot Noir a leg up when pairing with the likes of mushrooms, bacon and even onions. This appetizer is always a hit with the host and guests alike. It's a snap to make, downright delicious and offers a great introduction to the basics of food and wine pairing when served alongside a slightly chilled glass of Pinot Noir.
2. Peking Duck
Roasted duck is a classic pairing for Pinot Noir. This Peking Duck (perhaps Beijing's most popular dish) offers a sweet, Asian twist on the traditional pairing. The slice of ginger only adds to the pairing profile by bringing a warm flavor spice to join the wine's frequent aromatic favorites of cinnamon and clove. To raise the wine pairing bar just a bit, you might consider adding an additional tablespoon of your pairing Pinot (in place of or in addition to the sherry) to the savory combination of ginger, scallion, honey, vinegar, and sherry used to baste the duck.
Perhaps nothing evokes a red wine pairing quite like a roasted beef tenderloin and for good reason, the fat and protein beg for a wine that can handle them with pairing elegance and symbiotic synergy. This Roasted Beef Tenderloin recipe from About.com's Busy Cooks site is a classic beef tenderloin recipe with simple, fool-proof instructions and a knock-your-socks-off pairing with a fuller-bodied Pinot Noir (look towards California for the bigger bodied Pinots).
Derrick Riches, About.com's guide to barbecue, finds an elegance in its simplicity. The rich flavors of the fish are well supported by the smoky flavors from the plank, making a Pinot that has seen a bit of oak itself the perfect complement.
Hands-down Pinot Noir is one of the very best wines to handle earthy herbs (fresh or dried) and even the full flavor component of onion. The Roast Pork Loin culinary combination of garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, and chives demands a wine that can stand up to the savory flavors while complementing the fat and protein elements of the pork. A medium-bodied, cooler climate Pinot will typically have a bit more earth in the palate profile and will lend itself well to the herbal undertones of this enticing dish.
Pinot Noir and mushrooms are a perfect pairing combination and this super simple mushroom sauce from About.com's Southern Food site gives Pinot Noir fans an excuse to pair even more with this versatile red wine. The earth-driven profile of many of today's Pinot Noir wines makes it a natural for partnering with various mushroom dishes, be they mushroom risotto or a beautiful cut of beef topped with a mushroom sauce. This particular recipe calls for a 1/2 cup of red wine, so be sure to utilize the Pinot you're pouring in the sauce to amp the pairing potential even more.
Along with the classic Pinot Noir and cheese pairings of Brie, Camembert, Gruyere, and goat cheese, About.com's guide to cheese, Jennifer Meier, has put together an exquisite assortment of out-of-the-box cheese adventures for partnering up with your favorite glass of Pinot Noir. Check out her top cheese recommendations ranging from the French Abbaye de Belloc to Spain's Zamarano.
For the wine and chocolate advocates, this clever and tasty chocolate covered strawberry recipe is a delight with lighter-bodied Pinot Noir. The combination of milk chocolate and white chocolate works exceptionally well for the lighter tannins and intrinsic flavors of strawberry and raspberry found on the palate profile of many Pinot Noirs.