Pairing Sauvignon Blanc and Food 1

by Edward Korry, MA, CWE

In general, the high acidity of Sauvignon Blanc has the ability to make most foods shine, much as lemon complements many dishes. The acidity pairs well not only with fried foods but with foods that are intrinsically more difficult to pair due to such elements as the chlorophyll of green vegetables or the umami of rich dried or dry aged foods. Acidity also balances out salty and cured foods.

From a pairing perspective, there are three distinct styles of Loire Sauvignon Blanc wines: [1] those that are more fruit driven, have less complexity, and higher noticeable acidity; [2] those with a more complex, mineral, dry chalky, leafy character; and [3] those from the second category that are barrel fermented and/or have been allowed to bottle age and become transformed into a weightier, more complex wine with a lemon custard character.

The first grouping of wines which come from the lower vineyards of Sancerre, Quincy, Reuilly, and Menetou-Salon have fresh acidity which acts as a foil to foods that are uplifted by citrus notes. The primary issue to focus on is the intensity of the dish, which cannot be too intense to the point of overwhelming the wine’s flavor.

Pairing Food with Fruit Driven, Uncomplicated Wines 1

Vegetable and Egg Dishes




Crottin de Chavignol (goat's cheese)

Fried Calamari

Goujonette of sole or other white fish


Fried Zucchini Flowers

Moules Marinières



Vegetable Terrines

Smoked seafood



Eggplant dishes such as babaghanoush




Eggplant, tomato and parmesan gratin




Grilled Asparagus with lemon, olive oil and feta

Sauteed Crab cakes and caper butter sauce



Leek and Goat cheese quiche




Spinach salad with lardon, goat’s cheese and figs




Gazpacho with crabmeat




Tomato tart




The second grouping comprises the more complex wines of the best sites of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé made by some of the more demanding producers. There is more weight to these wines, which have a dry, acidic and intensely long finish. Foods need to be rich with good depth, but not so much as to overwhelm the wines. Spicy cuisines tend to overwhelm these wines. If one insists on Sauvignon Blanc with spicy Caribbean or Indian dishes, it might be better to opt for something from the New World. However, many Loire Sauvignon Blancs of this second category have a chalky minerality which pairs wonderfully with deliciously fresh seafood. They combine exceptionally well with Japanese cuisine.

Pairing Food with Complex, Mineral-Like Wines 1

Vegetable and Egg Dishes




Chabichou, Pouligny-St Pierre, Valencay, Selles-sur-Chers goat cheeses

Sauteed Shrimp Provençal


Veal Picatta

Asparagus, Morels and Asparagus cream

Oysters on the ½ shell

Grilled Dover Sole

Sauteed PorK Chop


Asian Pesto Grilled Shrimp (Ming Tsai)

Cod Brandade

Lemon Chicken

Asparagus with a mousseline sauce

Grilled Octopus

Turbot Provenal

Chicken Paillard with herbs of Provence

Goat Cheese Raviolis with herbed tomato sauce


Roasted Sea Bass with Lemon and Rosemary

Serrano, Porsciutto

Swiss Chard Malfati with sage brown butter


Halibut with a Pistou Sauce




Poached Salmon with Sorel Sauce




Seared Tuna Niçoise


The third category of wines is barrel or cellar-aged, high quality Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé which evolve into spectacular wines with depth and richness. If one has kept such a wine for a number of years, then it is befitting (though not essential) that the accompanying recipes be of an equal pedigree. Mushrooms can play a bridging note adding depth of flavor and intensity to the dish, which will match the wine’s richness while not overpowering it.

Oak-Aged Wines 1

Vegetable and Egg Dishes




Lobster Poached in Lemongrass broth with truffled shiitake flan

Sole Bonne Femme (with mushrooms)

Fresh Ham with a Morel cream Sauce


Seafood Risotto

Grilled Salmon with Chanterelle Mushrooms

Veal with Morels served with Alsatian Noodles


Seared Scallops with chopped fresh herbs and a warm verjus vinaigrette

Grilled Trout with an herbed nut oil dressing

Veal sweetbreads with capers




Stuffed Breast of Veal

1 Excerpted from Report #17 Sauvignon of the Loire