No More Sad Salads

No More Sad Salads

This blog post was authored by Max Edge.

WINE! Because No Good Story Ever Started with Someone Eating a Salad...

Drawn on many-a pub A-board, printed on a tote-bag flung over someone's shoulder, or maybe on a Greetings card, I'm certain everyone has come across this 'rib-tickling' meme or version of it at some stage. 

Salad Has An Image Problem...

Often thrown together at the last minute and relegated to the corners of the spread at your BBQ, salad frequently ends up looking rather sad, doomed to the abyss of a waste bin.

There are, of course, the popular classics - Greek, Niçoise, Caprese, Caesar - all delicious in their own right, but rather tiresome given their frequency. Outside of this limited range, many restaurants are sadly lacking in salad variety. Even small side salads are often disappointing, worst of all being the dreaded ‘Garden Side Salad’. On the menu of many a local pizzeria and brasserie, this underwhelming mix of past-their-best greens should be swerved.

But it doesn’t have to be like this! Salads can be delicious, colourful, flavourful, filling and worthy of centrepiece status on the dining table. Done right, they can look impressive whilst tasting fantastic, guaranteed conversation starters. With almost numerably opportunities to pair, the wine will help those stories keep going!

Whether enjoying the beautiful simplicity of a few ingredients working together or discovering the diverse complexity of multiple textures and flavours, you can go hot or cold, guilt-free & healthy or as ‘dirty’ you like. There are endless possibilities to explore.

When it Comes to Pairing Wines for Your Salads...

You cannot go wrong when starting with light, refreshing wines. Summery white wines from the usual sunshine hotspots of Portugal, Spain, and Italy are a good starting point, while Rosé easily slots in. 

This is not to stay that red wines are off the menu. Consider lighter bodied Italian Reds like Barbera and Valpolicella Classico, the juicy styles working in beautiful tandem with the fresh ingredients. French varietals such as Gamay and Trousseau also work brilliantly with salads. 

If you're still a little nervous about what to pair with what, I've listed a few principles below to help guide those decisions. 


Salad dressings can be wine killers! Vinegar and lemon juice are far more acidic than your average wine, meaning anything with medium-low acidity will go flabby and lose its beautiful structure. You need a wine to be zippy enough to retain its shape and stay refreshing. Try pairing your acidic dressings with wines of a similar tangy-ness. If done, the acid in the food will only accentuate the natural flavours of the wine, bringing out body and fruitiness that can transform even the simples of white wines. 

Look for:

Vinho Verde, Albarino, Txakoli, Cote de Provence Rosé, Picpoul de Pinet, Verdicchio, Dry Riesling


Viognier, Warm-climate Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Garganega 


Sweetness in salad can come from fruit, or even a bit of honey added to a dressing. Matching wine with sweetness can be tricky, but since we're not dealing with desert wines here, things are a little easier. Adding in fresh strawberries, caramelised peaches, or sultanas can bring out an increase in perceived acidity while limited the fruitiness of a wine. 

Look for: 

Cote de Provence Rosé, Maconnais Whites, Gewürztraminer, off-dry Riesling


Pinot Grigio, Vermentino

Raw Veggies

Greens, radishes, onions, celery, herbs, you name it. Veggie heavy salads can be super fresh, peppery, and just a little-bit bitter. Wines with herbaceous and vegetal aromatics can really complement these farm-fresh flavours. Wines with a briny, oceanic kick or volcanic, smoky minerality are also great. Stick to white wines for the best pairings here. 

Look for: 

Grüner Veltliner, Loire Sauvignon Blancs (Sancerre, Quincy), Arneis, Assyrtiko, Muscadet


Anything with bitterness or astringency. 


It could be meat, fish, eggs, nuts, or cheese. Consider what proteins there are to make your decision on your best pairing. Anything like Red meat, smoked fish, earthy walnuts or hard sharp cheeses would open the doors to light and medium bodied reds while white varietals like Grüner, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Blanc are versatile. 

My Top Pairings for Summer Salads


This is one of my favourites for the summer, a feast for the eyes with its vibrant, contrasting colours. 

Pair with a Grenache-based Provencal Rosé or embrace the Greek flavours with an Aegean-influenced Assyrtiko.

Heirloom Tomato/Caramelised Peach/Burrata/Basil 

Caprese evolved – I’ll be honest, I made this on a recent holiday to Puglia with the freshest Burrata and the tastiest peaches (they’re always better on holiday right?) - I still dream about it.

A Tavel Rosé would be perfect here. 

Fig/Charred Onion/Gorgonzola/Salted Almond/Hot Honey 

One for the late summer when the figs are a bit riper. The mix of textures and flavours really work well together. Salty, Creamy, Sweet, Bitter, Crunchy & Soft all combine for an excellent salad. 

A Chenin Blanc is a good starting point. A red like Tatomer's Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir is a fantastic varietal expressions that works great with these flavours. 

Steak Tagliata/Cherry Tomatoes/ Rocket/Pesto/Raspberry Balsamic 

My go-to summer steak recipe. Seared Rare/Med Rare Steak sliced into strips with peppery rocket, sweet cherry tomatoes and tangy dressing

Go for a lighter red wine with pure fruit and an authentic rustic structure. Irancy is a new addition to our list, and would be a beautiful match to this meal. 

Thai Beef Salad

Use up your remaining Rare Roast Beef or Sear a Flat Iron Steak to go with crunchy veg and plenty of herbs, all laced with a spicy, salty, umami Thai dressing.

Riesling is a wonderful accompaniment for Asian cuisine. Some Roberson favourites are Smith-Madrone's Napa Valley Riesling or any of Carl Koch's alluring options. 

Turkey Laab/Lettuce Wraps

A throwback to the Chinese Takeaways of my youth. Sticky rice, crispy turkey mince, ginger, chilli, soy, lime and coriander all wrapped in a lettuce leaf for getting stuck into.

London Cru Bacchus is zingy, refreshing, gastronomic, and seriously drinkable. 

Whole Roasted Harissa Cauliflower/Saffron Couscous/Golden Sultanas/Walnut/Pomegranate Dressing 

This Vegan show-stopper looks mightily impressive and packs a flavourful punch. Finish with peppery watercress, parsley and dill. Serve alongside pittas and your favourite mezze to create the ultimate Eastern Mediterranean feast.

The Ebner-Ebenauer Poysdorf Grüner or a Gewürztraminer would complement the fresh green herbs and and the aromatically spicy harissa excellently. If you're after a red, look no further than Lebanon's finest. Chateau Musar Jeune

Barbecued Sardines/Golden Beetroot/Citrus Salsa

Golden Beets are not quite as earthy as their traditional cousins and have a bit of sweetness that goes well with the deep salty flavour of sardines

Try with something like Hirutza Txakoli or Domaines des Lauriers Picpoul de Pinet.