Wine Pairing: Gary Farrell Pinot Noir & Salmon

Welcome to our newly revamped Ultra blog! We’re going to post wine-related info, wine news, winery recommendations, and delicious wine pairings on Mondays, with informative and educational posts on Fridays (helpful hints and insider tips about all things related to transporting, cooling, storing, serving, and enjoying wine). Today we’re doing one of our favorite wine and food pairings. Every three weeks, we’re going to share with you a specific bottle of wine and a delicious meal to go with it (recipe included!). Without further ado, we present: Gary Farrell Russian River Pinot Noir and baked salmon.


Baked salmon is a healthy main course filled with omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin B, potassium, and antioxidants. Our recipe today comes to use from Food Network. Suggested sides are baked squash and toasted almond parsley salad.


  • 12-ounce salmon fillet, cut into four pieces
  • coarse salt
  • fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds
  • extra virgin olive oil

Instructions (salmon)

  1. Preheat an oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper as desired. Place the salmon pieces on a non-stick baking sheet or an iron skillet, with the skin side down. Bake 12-15 minutes, or until salmon is cooked through. Serve with baked squash and toasted almond parsley salad (see below).

Instructions (toasted almond parsley salad)

  1. Mince the shallot and place in a small bowl. Pour red wine vinegar over shallots and add a pinch of coarse salt. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
  2. Roughly chop the almonds, capers, and parsley and add to the shallot mixture. Add the olive oil a little bit at a time, to taste. Mix again and adjust seasonings as necessary. Serve alongside the baked salmon.

View recipe here: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/oven-baked-salmon-recipe-1911951


Though oily fish like salmon pairs excellently with white wine—especially those from the Rhône region of France, like nutty Marsanne and fruity Viognier (“vee-own-yay”), white Rioja from Spain, white burgundies, or oaked chardonnay. But Gary Farrell pinot noir, which is typically fruity and not as tannic as other reds, also matches well with a salmon dish. Pinot noir originates in the Burgundy region of France, and is still grown there in large quantities. Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Germany, Italy, Oregon, and California are also creating excellent pinot noirs, however.

Gary Farrell Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is grown and created in the Russian River Valley AVA of Sonoma County, California. Thanks to Sonoma’s proximity to the Pacific Ocean, the Russian River Valley’s climate is uncharacteristically cool for California. As a result, the valley is known for producing high-quality cool-weather varietals like pinot noir and chardonnay.

Gary Farrell pinot noir from the Russian River Valley, according to their website, “nail the sweet spot of the varietal’s broad ripeness spectrum, displaying bright red fruit aromas, vibrant black cherry and berry flavors and plush sandalwood and Asian spice tones.” We highly recommend the 2015 Gap’s Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir. With a bouquet of allspice, dried herbs, and cloves, its flavors include cranberry, cherry, blood orange, and vanilla, perfect for complementing a savory salmon dinner. The velvety tannins ensure that the wine won’t overwhelm the fish, salad, and squash we’re pairing it with. Oh, and this wine earned 94 points from Wine Enthusiast magazine, too.


When pairing red wine with salmon, you want to make sure you have a light red wine with low tannins. It doesn’t hurt if your wine has fruity and spicy flavors to buoy up your oven-baked salmon’s simple salt and pepper seasoning. Russian River Valley pinot noirs are renowned for their understated, “velvety” tannins. That makes them ideal for pairing with the salmon recipe we’ve included in this post. The almond parsley salad, on the other hand, will be full of pronounced vegetable flavors: shallots, parsley, and briny capers. The diverse fruitness of Gary Farrell pinot noir also makes an excellent counterpoint to the salty vegetal aromas and flavors of the salad. A light-bodied pinot noir also won’t weigh down your palate as you consume a heavy, oily fish and a salad drizzled in olive oil.

If you liked our pinot noir and salmon pairing, stay tuned for more delicious pairings coming your way on the Ultra blog. And don’t forget to check out our website for bold new wine racking solutions. We just did a cool blog post about spring wine storage, tips, too, so make sure to check that out. See you next time!

Pssst! Hey. Down here. We just wanted to say a few words about the capitalization rules we’re using…

Folks, we’ve been banging our heads on the wall trying to figure out whether it’s “Pinot noir” or “pinot noir.” So we hit the information superhighway and did some research. We found this 1985 article in The New York Times Magazine which explains the following capitalization rules for wine names:

  • When the wine is named for a specific place and was created in that place, capitalize the name. A burgundy from the Burgundy region of France would therefore be a “Burgundy” with a big B. When we’re just generically discussing burgundies, however (not necessarily those made in Burgundy), we don’t capitalize it.
  • When the wine is named for a specific place but was not created in that place, don’t capitalize the name. A chianti made in California wouldn’t be capitalized (but a Chianti made in Chianti, Italy, would). We capitalized “Rioja” in this post because we were specifically talking about the Rioja made in the eponymous region of Spain.
  • Wines not named for places don’t get capitalized. It’s been theorized that “Sauvignon” comes from the French word for “savage”…it’s not the name of a city or a region. For that reason, we’re going to be copying the The New York Times and won’t be capitalizing “sauvignon.”
  • Don’t capitalize the name of a wine if the name has changed (however slightly) during its “transmission from place to wine.” Port is named for the Portuguese city of Porto. Sherry is named for the Spanish city of Jerez. But since these wines, in English, are called “port” and “sherry” respectively, they are not capitalized.
  • Chardonnay is named for a specific place within a wine-growing region (the village of Chardonnay in Burgundy). Therefore, we’re going to capitalize the name of any Chardonnay grown in Burgundy, but not chardonnays grown in California or elsewhere.
  • Got all that? Whew. We’re almost done. The last rule is one of the trickiest. The New York Times Magazine says that wines which are named for grapes should not be capitalized unless one or both of the following conditions are fulfilled: (A) the grape is named for a place, and/or (B) the wine originated in that place. Cabernet sauvignon is from the Bordeaux region of France. So if you have a Cabernet Sauvignon produced in Bordeaux, it should be capitalized. But cabernet is the name of the grape, not the city. Therefore it isn’t capitalized when you’re just generally talking about cabernet sauvignon as a generic type of wine. Early in this post we mentioned Viognier and Marsanne wines. We capitalized their names because we were talking specifically about the Marsanne and Viognier originating in France’s Rhône Valley, where these grapes have been traditionally grown. Pinot noir is the name of a grape, but we haven’t capitalized Gary Farrell pinot noir, because it’s not grown in Burgundy.

Just say Your opinion.

  • Weinblog

    5 years ago

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