Pinot noir is one of the most versatile red wines to match with food and a great option in a restaurant when one of you is eating meat and the other fish.
There are ingredients that will pair with practically any pinot noir such as duck and mushrooms and others, like salmon or tuna, where they will depending on the way you’ve cooked them and the style of pinot you’re drinking.
Here are some suggestions for food for different styles of pinot noir, most of which (barring the mature pinots) should be served cool or chilled:
Light, fresh pinots
Such as: inexpensive red burgundy, Alsace pinot noir and other less expensive pinots, especially from poor vintages
Good pairings: Charcuterie, ham and other cold meats. Patés and terrines. classic French dishes with light creamy sauces such as rabbit or kidneys with a mustard sauce. Goat cheese. Grilled asparagus. Spring vegetables such as peas
Sweetly fruited pinots
Such as: those from Chile, New Zealand and California with bright berry fruit
Good pairings: Dishes with a touch of spice such as crispy duck pancakes, grilled quail, pulled or char siu pork, seared salmon and tuna. Barbecues. Roast or other cooked beetroot dishes. Dishes that include cherries or figs like this duck and fig combination at Kooyong in the Mornington Peninsula
Silky, elegant pinots
Such as: top red burgundy and other Burgundian-style pinots
Good pairings: Roast chicken or guineafowl (even with lots of garlic as this post illustrates. Pigeon. Rack of lamb, served pink. Rare fillet steak and carpaccio. Beef Wellington. Roast pork with herbs and fennel. Chicken or turkey sausages. Calves liver, sweetbreads. Dishes with morels and other wild mushrooms. Mushroom risotto. Roast or grillled lobster
Rich, full-bodied pinots
Such as: those from Central Otago or pinots from a hot vintage
Good pairings: Butterflied lamb, chargrilled steak, venison. Dishes like cassoulet or duck with olives if they’re more rustic. Roast goose. Hare Royale as you can see from this post. Coq au vin where the sauce is made with pinot noir. Glazed ham. Roast turkey. Brie and similar cheeses. Milder blue cheeses such as Gorgonzola dolce.
Mature, truffley pinots
Such as: older vintages of Burgundy
Good pairings: feathered game such as grouse, partridge and pheasant. Cold game pie. Dishes with truffles.
Top pairings with pinot noir - Natasha Hughes' report from the 2009 International Pinot Noir Celebration (IPNC)
Pinot Noir and Asian food - some observations from Ch'ng Poh Tiong
Pinot Noir and lamb - my report on a workshop at the 2011 IPNC