Salad Days: Pairing Iconic Salads with PA Wines


For a low-stress, low-sweat summer meal, nothing beats a salad. Below we’ve paired some of the world’s most famous — and delicious — salads with Pennsylvania wines. These combinations also pair perfectly with a shady picnic blanket or an al fresco two-top in the lingering dusk.

Caesar Salad with Vidal Blanc

When you’re looking to pair a wine with this classic union of romaine lettuce, parmesan cheese, crunchy croutons, and creamy dressing, focus on one key flavor: anchovy. The salty, umami flavors of the wee fish (which melt into the dressing) call for a bright, contrasting wine. An unoaked Vidal Blanc is an excellent choice, with its high acidity, citrus notes, and fresh fruit flavors.

Beet & Goat Cheese Salad with Gewürztraminer

This salad was a ‘90s fad that was just too good to fade. It’s all about natural sweetness, both in the form of roasted beets and creamy goat cheese. (If you want to throw some candied nuts in there, you have our blessing.) Play that up with a floral, off-dry wine such as Gewürztraminer.

Cobb Salad with Pinot Noir

The ingredients in a traditional cobb salad are The Avengers of flavor: Bacon, avocado, blue cheese, grilled chicken, hard-boiled egg, and tomato come together to defeat the scourge of wimpy salads. Because of all the richness on display, this is the time to call upon a bright, acidic red such as Pinot Noir. Pro tip: Serve it chilled.

Gado-Gado with Chardonnay

This Indonesian staple features fried tofu, green beans, lettuce, hard-boiled eggs, and, the coup de grâce, a shocking amount of peanut sauce. The sauce is a symphony of sweet and savory, and you can underline that balance by opening a bottle of oaked Chardonnay with its notes of tart apple and rich, buttery undertones.

Caprese with Cabernet Franc Rosé

Sometimes less is more. That is certainly the case with this three-ingredient legend. The combination of creamy mozzarella cheese, acidic tomatoes, and sweet basil benefits from a subtle wine that won’t outshine the dish’s elegant simplicity. Pour a dry, earthy rosé made with Cabernet Franc grapes and exuding subtle berry notes.

Thai Laab with Niagara

This salad can be made with any number of proteins — beef, lamb, duck, chicken, seafood — because it’s all about the explosion of flavor coming from hot chilis, fresh mint, lime juice, fish sauce, and toasted rice powder. The punchy combination calls for a sweet, fruity wine that can quench the fire. We suggest Niagara, with its fresh-grape notes and citrus aromas.

Greek Salad with Albariño

Let this refreshing dish transport you to the Mediterranean coast. Fresh lettuce, red onion, cucumbers, and tomatoes — cut into rustic chunks — are paired with intense olives and briny feta cheese. To add to the atmosphere, open an acidic, austere European-style white such as Albariño, which pairs so successfully with salt-forward ingredients like seafood and preserved vegetables (olives, capers, pickles, onions) or cheeses.

Nicoise Salad with Merlot Rosé

Few salads are better at getting you through a long afternoon — whether that afternoon involves a strenuous hike or a lazy reading session in the hammock. The expected ingredients include high-quality canned or jarred tuna, new potatoes, green beans, gently-cooked eggs (the yolks should still be jammy), olives, tomatoes, and dijon dressing. This dish cries out for some fruitiness in the form of a Pennsylvania rosé made from Merlot. It’s the quintessential Provence-in-PA experience.