Pinot Noir: a silky, sensual red

A light-bodied, low-tannin, silky, sensual red, handed stardom by the movie Sideways in 2004 (but still only the fifth most-popular red wine in the U.S.)

Pinot Noir and Corned Beef
Photo: Rob D. Brodman

Swirl and taste: Red or dark berries, cherries, plums, violets, warm spices (cloves, cinnamon), herbs, sometimes and orange peel with an underside of cedar, smoke, leather, mushrooms, and loam.

Pair with:
• Pungent poultry and duck
• Lamb
• Venison
• Hearty fish ― salmon, tuna
• Ham, spicy pork
• Mushrooms
• Earthy legumes like lentils
• Warm spices ― cinnamon, cloves, cumin, ginger
• Sweet-salty marinades
• Fruit-based sauces ― with berries, dried cherries
• Spiced Asian and eastern Mediterranean dishes
• Many cheeses

MORE TASTING NOTES Pinot Noir can have an earthy Old World style (as in those from Burgundy, France ― long on minerals, short on fruit). Or it can have a more fruit-forward, New-World style, produced in California and Oregon.

Some winemakers in the cooler parts of those states make a hybrid that's lean and earthy yet still has generous fruit. The leaner, cooler-weather versions tend to have lower alcohol levels; the riper, fruitier Pinots from warmer places can have alcohol levels that overwhelm this wine.

Perfect recipe pairings
Lamb and Pork

• Cuban Pork with Pineapple
 • Rick's Pork and Vegetable Hot Pots
 • Lamb and Mushroom Stew
 • Lamb Stew with White Beans and Ginger

Chicken and Duck
• Pinot-Braised Duck with Spicy Greens
 • Coq au Vin with Crimini Mushrooms
 • Soy-Ginger Roast Chicken with Shiitake Mushrooms

Seafood and Vegetarian
• Little Mushroom Tarts
 • Pan-Roasted Fish on Mushroom-Leek Ragout
 • Peppered Salmon
 • Curried Salmon Cakes
 • Tuna with Tomato-Caper Sauce

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