Pair it Up! New Year, Big Flavour

It’s early January — we’re back to the grind after (over)indulging during the holidays. Some of us are feeling a little pudgier than we’d like, while others have simply made resolutions to eat better/smarter — fewer festive treats and more sensible dishes.

Thankfully, there’s no need to sacrifice flavour when it comes to choosing healthier dishes to help you hit your goal. Of course, don’t forego a nice glass of wine with your healthier fare (everything in moderation, after all).

A bright Thai quinoa salad — especially one that brings a citrus component — is an incredibly healthy side (or a co-main, under some chicken skewers or or grilled shrimp) that packs plenty of flavour without all the bad stuff. Lime, mint and cilantro all work overtime to bring plenty for your palate. (And it might sound weird with a Thai dish, but a small sprinkle of feta will ramp up the flavour.)

Wine-wise, the Perseus 2011 Sauvignon Blanc would be an ideal match. It has all sorts of bright citrus notes to pair well with the dressing, with lighter herbal notes as well as a splash of acidity that will work wonders with your quinoa salad.

Salmon dishes tend to be big in flavour but totally reasonable in the calorie and fat departments. Epicurious’ Slow-baked salmon with lemon and thyme brings a Mediterranean angle packed with flavour but that’s easy to make and totally healthy. (And don’t be fooled by the name of this recipe — the total time for prep and cooking is under 40 minutes.)

For your wine, an unoaked Chardonnay would work here, and Kacaba’s 2013 Unoaked Chardonnay from the Niagara Peninsula offers plenty of ripe apple and pear notes as well as that bit of citrus that will work with the dish — and all without the richer components that come with oak aging.

On the red wine side of things, a BC Pinot Noir with some BC salmon is a benchmark pairing, and Thornhaven’s 2011 Pinot Noir is drinking really well right now. The raspberry and cherry flavours are fleshed out by earthy and black tea notes, and the splash of acidity here will work well with the citrus notes in the dish.


Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson is the wine columnist and literary editor for the Winnipeg Free Press. He’s on Twitter and Instagram at @bensigurdson.

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