Look for pairings that combine and contrast the crispness and sophistication of a favorite tipple with the delicate simplicity of smoked salmon.
There should be no argument that Champagne is the perfect accompaniment to smoked salmon. But smoked salmon, whether Atlantic or Pacific or commercially farmed in any number of places, also lends itself to great pairings with a wide range of alcoholic partners – from wines to beers to fabulous single malt whiskies. Here are a few salmon-friendly tipples to try the next time you dine at Grand Old House, home of the best seafood in Grand Cayman.
A favorite of Orson Welles and your grandma, dry sherry is not just for the oldies at Christmas. Try pairing an extra-dry Tio Pepe with delicate slices of smoked salmon and be prepared for a surprise. This fortified, super-dry white wine has a flavor profile that is nothing like the nutty and sweet expectations of a normal sherry and is renowned for its pale golden hue and notes reminiscent of green apples and almonds. Its dry zest and lack of sweetness is the perfect counterpoint to the salmon’s delicate smokiness. Serve well chilled.
Sticking with the super-dry theme, France’s Loire Valley is the ancestral home of the world’s greatest Sauvignon Blancs, such as Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. Look for one that is young and fresh, no more than three years old, to retain a lightness and elegance, with an acidity that complements thin slices of smoked salmon with style.
It’s the reason so many people keep a bottle of premium vodka in the freezer. You never know when an impromptu party might break out, and a snack of smoked salmon with a super-chilled shot of top-shelf vodka is a simple and delicious beginning to any gathering – whether it’s a casual gathering at home or a night of fine dining in the Cayman Islands in the glorious setting of Grand Old House.
Not any old scotch will do. Look for a light, fragrant, slightly sweet, and aged single malt that will not overwhelm the delicate smokiness of the salmon. For hot-smoked salmon, you could look to more powerful complementary flavors from a peaty whisky with plenty of character. The older the whisky, the more complex and satisfying the smoked salmon pairing becomes.
Lightness and crispness are the essential characteristics to look for when thinking about a beer to accompany smoked salmon. Something like a Czech Pilsner has the perfect combination of bitterness, freshness, and effervescence that draws out and adds complexity to a lightly smoked salmon. Wheat beer, too, with its slightly spicy profile goes very well with salmon, indeed with just about all seafood dishes.