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Aug 9, 2016
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WINE WITH…Salmon with Shallot – Red Wine Reduction Sauce

One of the reasons salmon is so popular is that it adapts well to a variety of different culinary approaches. Whether grilled, roasted, poached, pan-fried or smoked, enjoyed cold or hot, in salad or soup, salmon is deliciously versatile. At our house we serve it most often with a fresh tomato salsa, aioli, or a light Asian-style glaze, but every now and then we have a hankering for a slightly heartier approach. We look for a preparation that will add a little more depth of flavor and make the dish somewhat more compatible with a broader range of wines without overshadowing the fish’s inherent delicacy. We found that when the robust character of red wine meets the ripe, mellow flavors of slow-cooked shallots the result is gustatory magic that enhances the tasty nuances of the fresh fish.

Salmon With Shallot-Red Wine Reduction Sauce

Serves 4-6

Since we wanted a sauce that was robust yet not too rich we stirred in the lemon juice towards the end of the cooking period, which added a bright, refreshing note and lightened the texture. For a denser sauce with somewhat more intense flavor, you can add the lemon juice earlier, along with the chicken stock and wine.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups minced shallots
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cups red wine
2 teaspoons minced parsley
1 tablespoon lemon juice
cayenne to taste (optional)
salt and pepper
1 and 1/2 pounds cooked salmon filet

Heat the olive oil and butter in a skillet. When the butter foams add the shallots, garlic and bay leaf. Cook over medium-to-low heat for a five to ten minutes, or until the shallots have softened, then add the chicken stock and red wine. Raise the heat and continue cooking, stirring occasionally and adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain a steady boil, until the mixture has reduced by about half (20-30 minutes). Add the parsley (and cayenne if using) and continue cooking for another couple of minutes. Spoon the sauce over the salmon.

* * *

While salmon can partner well with both red and white wines, this dish is much more red friendly. If you insist on a white wine, go for a truly full-bodied one like the oaky Chardonnay we are recommending. Otherwise, think red. But don’t choose something too heavy or tannic. The reduction sauce is hearty, but the fish itself remains fairly delicate. You won’t want to overwhelm it.

More recipes and wine pairings:    Wine With...  
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Approx. Price


Arrocal, Ribera del Duero (Spain) 2014

(Imported by Grapes of Spain)


Deeply flavored but soft and supple on the palate, this wine offers impressive length. Its flavors will stay with you even as you reach for another bite.

Briday, Rully Burgundy (France) “Les 4 Vignes” 2011

(Imported by Vineyard Brands)


Light-bodied, this is a lacey red wine, with almost ethereal flavors that echo ripe cherries and smoky leather. Meatier dishes will overwhelm it, but this salmon preparation meshes with it very nicely.

Joseph Drouhin, Fleurie Beaujolais (France) “Domaine des Hospices de Belleville” 2014

(Imported by Dreyfus Ashby)


Quite fruity, as wines made with Gamay grapes tend to be, this cru Beaujolais tastes both light and lively. Its exuberance gives the dish added lift.

Los Vascos, Colchagua (Chile) Cabernet Sauvignon “Grande Reserve” 2012

(Imported by Pasternak Wine Imports)


A surprisingly gentle Cabernet, perhaps due to its being over four years old (remember that harvest in the Southern Hemisphere comes in the spring), this wine did not in any sense overpower the dish. Instead, it found an amiable partner in the richly flavored oniony sauce.

Sonoma-Loeb, Carneros (California) Chardonnay “Sangiacomo Vineyard” 2014


A sumptuous, full-bodied California Chardonnay, full of fruit and oak. We found it almost overblown when we tasted it by itself but we liked it very much with the salmon as the sauce kept it in check.