Quick Guide to Salad Wine Pairings

I get it – you want to indulge but you also have the discipline to “just have a salad”. Or, you’re like me and just actually love a bowl of crisp, perfectly dressed greens. Frisee in a homemade Dijon vinaigrette is the stuff of my dreams. But guess what – there’s a wine pairing for whatever style of salad you’re munching. The secret is in the sauce…err, dressing.

How to Pair a Salad with Wine

The fail-safe method to pairing a salad with wine is going with a light, crisp white wine. But depending on the dressing, you can mix it up a bit. The most important thing to remember is that you want a high acidity wine because of the acidity of vinegar used in most salad dressings.

Lemon Tahini Dressing

My recipe for lemon tahini dressing amps up the acidity and brightness with fresh lemon juice, soy sauce, and cayenne. I would pair it with a Sauvignon Blanc to match, but other options to consider thanks to the creaminess of the tahini could be: Chardonnay, Riesling, or even a sparkling white.

Classic Italian Vinaigrettes

Pair these with a high-acidity white that will match the acidity of the vinaigrette. A wine like Sauvignon Blanc would be perfect because of the high acid and citrus notes.

Creamy Ranch or Caesar

A heavier, dairy-based creamy dressing like Ranch would be a great opportunity to reach for a fuller bodied, buttery Chardonnay. The complementary richness makes for a perfect pairing here.

Balsamic and Red Wine Vinaigrettes

As you get into deeper, fruit-forward vinegars in your vinaigrettes, you can start to look into possibly pairing your salad with a red wine. Keep it light and fruit-forward like a Pinot Noir or Gamay Noir. This is best for say, a spinach salad with dried cranberries, walnuts, and a tart balsamic or red wine dressing.

In fact, you can match the wine to the type of vinegar being used. Check out my pairing guide for an array of vinegars from classic red wine to fun Champagne vinegar.

Sydney Isaacs
Sydney Isaacs

Sydney is a 29-year old American living between France and Italy. She has a WSET Level 2 certification in wine, along with a degree in environmental engineering and an MBA. She loves exploring local farmer’s markets, haunting her favorite wine bar, and discovering new restaurants.


  1. Anna
    December 2, 2021 / 8:55 pm

    What about a maple champagne vinaigrette? With roasted winter veg and arugula

    • Sydney
      January 18, 2022 / 9:46 am

      First of all, that sounds delish! With the added sweetness from the maple syrup, I’d opt for something like an off-dry riesling. It won’t overpower the veg and pair perfectly with a maple champagne vinaigrette!

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