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A tough grape to grow but well worth the investment, Pinot Noir is a grape that demands optimum growing conditions but provides a huge pay off. A lighter colored and flavored red wine, Pinot Noir is perfect for pairing with leaner meats, sweet vegetables or creamy cheeses. Although slightly pricier than other traditional red wines because of strict growing conditions, Pinot Noir provides a smooth taste to complement almost any meal.

Wine critics often point out that there is more to choosing a wine than matching it with food. Whether searching for a moving wine experience or just wanting something to go with your steak, some wines are able to bridge both worlds. Pinot Noir is able to be paired with dishes that are normally reserved for white wines, such as salmon or scallops, making it mysterious to experienced wine drinkers. On the other hand, the sweet, red berry taste of Pinot Noir makes it a perfect complement to smoked or earthy flavors, like beef or horseradish, which might be used in everyday cooking.

The reason behind Pinot Noir’s ease of food pairing and ability to satisfy even the most ardent wine lover requires some explanation. Tannin, derived from the skin and seeds of fermenting grapes, is only found in moderate quantities in Pinot Noir. This tannin makes the wine very soft and smooth, making Pinot Noir an easy drinking red wine that goes just as well with white meats like fish or chicken, as it does with beef or pork.

Surprisingly, Pinot Noir is often compared to Chardonnays. Both wines are soft, easily drinkable when chilled and typically full of alcohol. Similarities can also be seen in the wines’ aging process, as both are aged in charred oak barrels before bottling. Yet these similarities between the two wines do not necessarily mean that one covers the number of meal combinations as the other. Pinot Noir’s ability to be paired with white and red meat gives it the upper hand when compared to Chardonnays.

Coming from the same lineage as one of France’s most prized wines, the red Burgundy, Pinot Noir is now grown in regions from Oregon to Australia. As many wine connoisseurs will point out, Pinot Noir is something of a mystery when it comes to its ability to go with just about any meal. Yet they will agree that the wine’s soft, sweet and sometimes earthy flavor is well worth the effort it takes to produce it.

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