I’ve never much been into sour candies, lemon meringue pie, or tart vinaigrette dressing. So it makes sense that, until recently, I wasn’t particularly enamored of Sauvignon Blanc. Like those foods, Sauvignon Blanc has a good amount of lemony, bright acidity—which can be refreshing, but also sometimes downright mouth-puckering.
In fact, a couple of years ago, when I started on my “100 Perfect Pairings” cookbooks, I wrote that Sauvignon Blanc was one of the wines that inspired me—because I didn’t like it on its own. I needed food alongside it to really make it sing.
But you know what? My tastes have changed. Nowadays, there are times when I crave Sauvignon Blanc, and nothing but a crisp, refreshing glass of it will do. (Although I’m still not wild about sour candies.)
During the course of writing the books, working with it for concentrated periods, I came to better know and appreciate Sauvignon Blanc’s unique, spring-like piquancy. It grew on me.
A few tips for pairing foods with Sauvignon Blanc:
1. If you, too, are sensitive to the sometimes pucker-inducing acidity of the wine, you can lessen that experience by pairing it with similarly bright foods. It’s completely contrary to logic that a super acidic wine plus a super acidic food results in an overall reduction in the experience of acidity, but that’s how it works.
2. Salt in your food will also lessen the experience of acidity in the wine.
3. If your food totally lacks acidity—or worse, if it has sweetness—you’ll get the opposite result. That is, your wine will taste even more acidic.
4. To mimic the light, white qualities in the wine, lighter, whiter acids tend to work best with Sauvingon Blanc—lemon juice, white wine or champagne vinegar, white or golden balsamic vinegar, buttermilk, and even sour cream. Very mild and refreshing spiciness can also add brightness, like the light tickle of watercress or a dab of horseradish.
5. Completely, and admittedly maddeningly, contrary to the basic food and wine rule of pairing like with like, you can also sometimes use Sauvignon Blanc’s high acidity to cut through bright but richer foods.
A couple of others’ recipes that’d also pair well with Sauvignon Blanc:
Simply Recipes’s Spring Pea Hummus
Fine Cooking’s Avocado, Fennel & Grapefruit Salad with Grilled Shrimp