Pinot Noir is a light and refreshing red wine with an earthy undertone, making it a food-friendly red wine.  Pulled Pork, Easter Ham, Grilled Salmon, Turkey, Roasted Chicken and Lamb Chops are all excellent dishes with Pinot Noir as they all have an element of earthiness to them.

Why is Pinot Noir so Popular?

The best explanation I ever heard about Pinot Noir is that it’s that classic book you read in high school English class. At the time, you found it boring and overhyped as you didn’t understand it, but as you aged, you appreciated it more and more. Years later, when you returned to that novel, you finally understood it and had a much deeper understanding of yourself and the world because of it.

Pinot Noir is much like that book as it seduces you with its complexity, and not its power. Here is a red wine that is soft and subtle. Winemakers have a love/hate relationship as in one chance year, it will produce an amazing red wine they fall in love with, yet for decades after, they may never hit that high again.

Wine aficionados have individually spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a single bottle of bland Pinot Noir in hopes to find that masterpiece that will stick with them forever. However, finding that rare and excellent Pinot Noir makes it all worthwhile.

In recent years, California has been producing some reliable Pinot Noir that is more fruit-forward, somewhat strawberry candied, and lip-smacking delicious. It’s the famous Burgundy wines from France (which are 100% Pinot Noir) that are considered the greatest red wines, as the winemakers there focus on less fruity flavours, and more complex earthy flavours like the forest floor, and mushroom.

Ontario, Oregon and New Zealand lie somewhere in between France and California and tend to have a smoky strawberry and cherry kissed charm.

When to break out the Pinot Noir

California Pinot Noir is great for any meal. It’s soft, seductive, and delicious. If you’re looking to share a glass or two over a conversation, Pinot Noir is the perfect red.

All other Pinot Noir occasions are best served with food. This is an intimate and challenging wine and thus is served best at smaller gatherings. I adore Oregon Pinot Noir with Salmon, however, all variants of Pinot Noir are stunning with this richer fish.

Pinot Noir tends to lean on the acidic side (vs tannic), as it’s often not aged in oak (although it might be).  Unoaked Pinot Noir is perfect with tomato-based dishes, like Pasta in Tomato Sauce, Bruschetta, or Mussels in a Tomato Sauce.  Tomato-based dishes need acidity, or else the wine will clash with the dish and taste flash.

Earthier versions of Pinot Noir are fantastic with duck, where the cherry smokiness of the wine perfectly highlights a crisp and juicy duck. Mushrooms with their earthy and meaty quality are also a notable match.  Pinot Noir goes well with a vegetarian stir fry with lots of mushrooms and tossed in a simple soy sauce based sauce. Here the smokiness of the wine complements the soy sauce, while the earthiness of the wine pairs up nicely with the mushrooms.

Croque Monsieur & Pinot Noir

Croque Monsieur is a essentially a grilled cheese with ham with a dab of tangy dijon mustard. Cooked in a true French fashion Croque Monsieur will tantalize and tease every sense with its decadent flavours and buttery but crunch exterior. Pinot Noir’s cherry and strawberry notes won’t overpower this delicious sandwich. Meanwhile, the smoky and earthy notes of Pinot Noir complement smokiness of the ham.

Best Wine for Mother’s Day

Pinot Noir also makes a great gift for your mom, or mother-in-law. If she’s not into wine, stick with the reliable and sweeter California versions. If she’s into food and wine, steer more towards Oregon and New Zealand. If she’s a lover of wine, talk to someone where you buy your wine and have them pick you out a French Burgundy that suits your budget.

Common Scents/Flavours of Pinot Noir:

Cherry, Raspberry, Strawberry, Plum, Pomegranate, Currant, Violet, Mint, Tea Leaf, Mushroom, Truffle, Damp Leaves, Coffee, Ginger, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Mocha,Espresso, Smoke, Caramel, Caramelized Sugar, Toasted Pecan, Barnyard Funk

Notable Producers of Pinot Noir:

California: Carmel Road, Lotus, McManis, Robert Mondavi, Meiomi
Canada: Blue Mountain, Mission Hill, Tawse
Oregon: Argyle, Elk Cove, Ponzi
New Zealand: Delta, Six Foot Six, Stoneleigh, Voss Estate

Pinot Noir Goes Great With: