Pinot Noir Food Pairing: Beyond the Basics

Updated: Jun 8, 2020

Three bottles of Pinot Noir next to a plate with a knife and fork across it.

Pinot Noir is a light red wine that is easy drinking on its own and pairs very easily with a variety of foods. It’s so versatile it can pair just as easily with a steak as with chicken or fish. It’s the best go-to when you’re at a restaurant and your tablemates order across the menu.

When pairing wine with food, it’s important to consider how the meal is prepared and the sides served along with it. We’ll break this down into 2 layers. The first layer is the meal base like the type of meat such as fish or steak. The second layer is the preparation and seasonings along with the sides.

Pinot Noir Taste Characteristics

First let’s understand the typical flavor profile of Pinot Noir. This will help guide us to the right food pairing.

Pinot Noir is a light red wine. It has flavors of raspberry and red cherry along with vanilla and clove from aging in oak barrels. It’s a dry wine with high acidity. The acidity gives a bit of sharpness and freshness to the wine. It has a medium level of tannin. Tannin is what creates that drying sensation. Because Pinot Noir has a medium level of tannin, it won’t give that super dry mouthfeel that you would get from a Cabernet Sauvignon, for instance. Instead, it will have more of a soft, silky texture.

Pinot Noir Food Pairings that work every time

Image of chicken marsala in a pan.

Layer 1: Meal Base

  • White meats like chicken, duck, lamb, pork, and ham.

  • Red meats like steak, beef roast, and burgers.

  • Fish like Salmon and white fish such as Halibut and Trout.

Layer 2: Seasonings & Sides

  • Earthy seasonings and sauces such as pork with mushroom sauce or chicken marsala.

  • Roasted vegetables such as onions, summer squash, beets, and figs.

  • Mushrooms and Beans such as black beans, lentils, and cannellini beans.