Herbs control and balance a dish, and are one of the most important elements in nearly any type of cuisine. These shrubberies can coexist as subtle additions or they can be the standouts of a dish. Pairing wine with herbs, as with anything, is all about complementing and contrasting. The cook chooses the story that they want the dish to tell, and the wine pairing supports that story. Pairing wine with an elemental part of a dish helps sharpen and emphasize components rather than compartmentalize the meal as a whole. If stuck on pairing, remember those herbs.
Dill: Fresh Wines
A Sauvignon Blanc’s green crispness will elevate the tangy, earthy herb. Think salmon, new potatoes, eggs and potato salads. Dilled-up brunches require fresh wines.
Tarragon’s slight anise flavor is more on the sweet side and can be beautifully extrapolated by chardonnays that contain strong vanilla notes and traces of oak.
Mint: Lighter, Zestier Reds
Think of pairing mint with a subtly lush, peppery, light to medium-bodied red wine (like a Carmenere). Kicky spice and soft, plummy fruit nicely balances the sweet, cooling properties of mint.
Rosemary: Rustic Reds
Pair this rustic herb with Cabernet Sauvignons or a big, bold Sangiovese. Rosemary has this earthy, pinelike fragrance and flavor that will engage with woody, full-bodied, acid-balanced reds.
Saffron: Nutty Wines
Saffron’s saturating musky floral notes would pair well with a rich, full-bodied and floral Viognier. Or try a Manzanilla sherry – this nutty Spanish wine’s savory, sea-like nuances would be a fun complement to saffron’s earthiness.
Sage: Soft, Spicy Reds
A round, bold, fruit-forward California Syrah complements the bitter, woody savoryness of sage leaf. The spiciness that is inherent in Syrah will also lift and complement this herb in richer dishes.