A quick guide to Pinot Noir and food pairing

Toca Madera Staff

7 min read

Are you a wine enthusiast looking to elevate your dining experience? Let's embark on a flavorful journey, exploring the art of pairing predominately meat-heavy, spicy, delicious dishes with one of the world's most cherished wines—Pinot Noir.

This light-bodied red wine, known for its fruity flavors and earthy notes, can transform a meal into a symphony of taste.

But how do you unlock the full potential of Pinot Noir's complex flavor profile?

Let's dive in.

Understanding Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir, a grape variety that thrives in cooler climates like Central Otago and Willamette Valley, is a wine lover's delight.

Its allure lies in its bright acidity, moderate tannins, and a flavor profile that dances between fruity notes of black cherry and tart cherries, to flavors that hint at wild mushrooms and a characteristic earthiness.

This light-bodied red wine is known for its versatility in food pairings. Why is this so?

Here are a few reasons:

  • Flavor Profile: Pinot Noir's complex flavor, with its fruity and earthy notes, complements a wide variety of dishes. From the spicy kick of Mexican cuisine to the robust flavors of a well-cooked steak, Pinot Noir can hold its own.
  • Acidity: The bright acidity in Pinot Noir acts like a squeeze of lemon on a dish—it highlights and enhances the flavors. This makes it an excellent wine to pair with rich meats (which can be beef or chicken) and savory notes in food.
  • Moderate Tannins: The silky tannins in Pinot Noir make it a smooth companion for a range of foods, from light cheese to game meats. It doesn't overpower the flavors of the dish but rather complements them.

The Art of Pairing Pinot Noir

Here are some general principles to guide your Pinot Noir pairing adventures:

  • Match the Intensity: Pinot Noir, being a light-bodied red wine, pairs best with dishes that match its intensity. You wouldn't want the wine or the food to overpower the other—balance is key.
  • Consider the Dish's Components: Look at the dish's main elements—its protein, the way it's cooked, its sauce, or seasoning. For instance, a tomahawk steak with a spicy, creamy sauce might call for a Pinot Noir with a bolder character to cut through the richness.
  • Play with Contrasts and Complements: Pairing isn't just about matching flavors. Sometimes, a contrast can be exciting for the taste buds. The earthy flavors in Pinot Noir can be a delightful contrast to a dish with a sweet element. On the other hand, a dish with earthy notes, perhaps something with truffles, can complement the wine's similar flavors.

Keep in mind that these are guidelines, not rules set in stone. The beauty of wine pairing lies in experimentation and personal preference. So, don't be afraid to try new combinations and discover what works best for your palate. After all, the best wine pairing is one that brings you joy.

Pinot Noir and Mexican Cuisine

Mexican cuisine, with its vibrant flavors and varied textures, can be a delightful partner for Pinot Noir. The wine's bright acidity, fruity flavors, and earthy notes can beautifully complement the rich, spicy, and often complex flavors found in Mexican dishes.

Consider these pairings:

  • Spicy Food: The bright acidity and fruity flavors of Pinot Noir can help balance the heat in spicy Mexican dishes. It's like a relief that allows you to better appreciate the dish's flavors. Keep this in mind when eating jalapeños or chipotle-infused meals.
  • Earthy Ingredients: Many Mexican dishes feature earthy ingredients like beans and corn. These can harmonize with the earthy notes in Pinot Noir, creating a satisfying flavor echo.
  • Grilled Meats: Mexican cuisine often features grilled meats, which can pair well with Pinot Noir. The wine's bright acidity can cut through the fattiness of the meat, while its fruity flavors can complement the caramelization from the grilling process. This is perfect for tacos, for example.

Pinot Noir and Steak

Steak and Pinot Noir—a classic duo that brings together the robust flavors of a well-cooked steak with the fruity, earthy notes of this beloved wine. But what makes this combination work so well?

The magic lies in the interplay of flavors and textures. A steak, with its rich, savory, and often gamey flavor, needs a wine that can stand up to its boldness.

Enter Pinot Noir. Its bright acidity cuts through the fattiness of the steak, while its moderate tannins provide a pleasing contrast to the meat's richness.

For example, a steak with a sweeter sauce. Consider a steak with a roasted sauce. The sweet taste would echo the fruity flavors in Pinot Noir, creating a harmonious pairing.

Or a steak served with a stronger, perhaps even spicy sauce. The earthy flavors in the sauce would complement the wine's earthy notes, enhancing the overall dining experience.

The goal of pairing is not just to match flavors, but to create a balance where both the food and the wine shine. So, whether you're grilling a steak at home or dining out, consider pairing it with a glass of Pinot Noir. You might find that this classic combination takes your meal to new heights.

Try the best Pinot Noir Pairings at Toca Madera

As we conclude our journey through the world of Pinot Noir and food pairings, we can't help but appreciate the versatility of this wine. Its ability to complement a wide range of flavors makes it a delightful companion to many meals.

Now, imagine sitting in a modern, upscale restaurant, savoring the bold flavors of a sustainably sourced, organic meal. The bar offers a vast selection of the finest tequilas, mezcals, and wines from around the globe, including, of course, Pinot Noir.

At Toca Madera, you'll not only find a meal and a glass of wine. it's an experience, a sensory delight that combines visually stunning design, seductive music, and a menu that compliments your surroundings.

It's a world that’s both modern and timeless. Toca Madera, where the art of pairing Pinot Noir with a variety of dishes can be fully appreciated. Book your table with us here and let's embark on a culinary adventure together.