|SAN FRANCISCO – After the culinary indulgences of the holiday season, now is a great time to lighten up with fresh winter salads, paired with California white wines. While some people instinctively reach for reds during the winter months, the Golden State’s white varietals and blends do a beautiful job of enhancing lighter-style winter fare.
Thanks to California’s mild, Mediterranean climate, fresh produce is always in season in the Golden State. As the nation’s agricultural leader, it supplies Americans across the country with two-thirds of their fruits and nuts, and a third of their vegetables. California also produces more than 80 percent of the nation’s wines. The state’s wintertime bounty includes bright citrus fruits, along with earthy root vegetables. These ingredients shine in flavor-packed seasonal salads, especially alongside California white wines.
When pairing California whites with winter dishes, Tonya Pitts, wine director at One Market Restaurant in San Francisco and founder at Tonya Pitts Consulting, typically leans toward aromatic varietals and styles. Among her favorites are Chardonnay, Albariño, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Pinot Blanc.
For seasonal produce such as beets, citrus fruits and root vegetables, “The trick is to match the flavors and textures of the dish with the white wine,” she says. “You want to pick up on some of the same flavors.” Pitt recommends exploring white Rhone-style blends from California’s Central Coast, along with locally grown Gruner Veltliner. “There are also some lovely Italian white wine varietals, like Ribolla Gialla, coming out of regions like Lodi, Amador and Contra Costa County,” she says.
While some find it tricky to pair wines with salads due to the vinegar in many dressings, Pitts says it’s easy to find harmonies if you go for a California white wine that isn’t extremely dry. “I would be looking for wines with a bit more body, but not super fruity,” she says. “I would pair them with a richer, fuller Sauvignon Blanc with lots of texture, or a Santa Barbara Gruner Veltliner.”For more fresh, seasonal recipes and wine pairing suggestions, visit Discover California Wines.