Salmon and Michigan Wine

Salmon and Michigan Wine, a Perfect Pairing

Michigan is wine country. Along the lakes, from the Tip of the Mitt down to the Indiana Border, the cool climate and the protection provided by Lake Michigan make for good wine, especially for white wine like Riesling.  Last month, the annual Michigan Wine Competition was held at the Kellogg Center at MSU. Of the last 40 years of the competition from when it began in a tent squeezed between livestock areas on either side, and the wine judges had to sort out the wines’ aromas from those of barn and paddock, I have judged for almost 20 years, a great privilege, along with winemakers, wine writers and critics from around the U. S. This year, 24 judges on six judging panels blind tasted over 400 wines from 55 wineries, “swirling, sniffing, sipping, swishing and spitting,” and awarding medals of merit to amazing wines from Michigan.

Michigan wines are meant in Michigan to go with salmon. It’s that simple. Maybe it is because they both come from cool climates, a sort of natural affinity.  But you can find this out for yourself, on Saturday September 15, from 1PM to 5 PM, at the annual Grand Haven Salmon Fest organized by the Grand Haven Area Convention and Tourist Bureau and sponsored by D&W Fresh Markets. You can taste Salmon and Michigan wines.

The Salmon Fest, a two day extension of summer and a celebration of life on the Lake Michigan Shore, now in its 15th year, offers something for everyone, a fishing competition on the big lake, and art show, kids’ activities, a grape stomp challenge, live music. But the highlight is the good eating, from the Friday evening family salmon boil cooked up by the local Sons of the American Legion to the Saturday Salmon Cook-off prepared by local chefs and the Michigan Wine and Craft Brew Tasting. For details go to:  Meanwhile, here are two simple salmon recipes paired with Michigan wines:

Grilled Salmon with Pineapple Sake Teriyaki Glaze


  • One bottle Earth & Vines Pineapple Teriyaki Marinade (One of my pantry staples, this is also delicious on pork, steak, chicken, or as a finishing sauce with stir fried veggies served over rice!)
  • 1/4-1/3 lb. per person of Salmon filet in one piece or in individual sized servings. (I like Blue Pearl Scottish Salmon best for its delicate taste and its lovely moist texture.)


  1. Put salmon and about 1/3 C of marinade per lb. of fish in a sealable plastic bag and move around gently until fish is evenly coated. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  2. Cook salmon skin side down until just done on your cast iron grill pan, an outdoor charcoal grill, or even under the oven broiler, painting with the marinade from plastic while cooking.
  3. Serve with Coconut Lime Jasmine Rice, recipe below...

Coconut Lime Jasmine Rice, Serves 4


  • 1 C jasmine rice
  • 1 C water
  • 1C coconut milk
  • ¼ C minced cilantro
  • 3 TBS Fresh Squeezed lime juice
  • 1 TBS Mirin (rice wine)
  • 1 TBS Sweet Chili Sauce


  1. In a medium sauce pan add rice, water and coconut milk. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer about 20 minutes with lid on until liquid is absorbed.
  2. Make dressing by whisking together lime juice, Mirin, chili sauce and cilantro
  3. Stir dressing into rice and serve with salmon.

PAIR WITH: a chilled semi dry to semi sweet Michigan white wine.Oriental flavorings invite aromatic, slightly sweet wines that can be chilled.
TRY:  St. Julian On the Town White Blend,  a Double Gold Medal winner at the Michigan Wine Competition Michigan’s made by wine maker Nancy Oxle, It is a fruity forward, ever so slightly sweet, but light and refreshing, white blend.
TRY: Verterra 2017 Dry Riesling Double Gold and Best of class winner at Michigan Wine Competition for the second year in a row! It is dry and food-friendly with classic flavors of apple and pear.

French Cold Poached Salmon

A classic example of that wonderful old concept of the “cold collation,” classic French Cold Poached Salmon with herbed garlic mayonnaise can be prepared a day or two in advance. And it is easy to make, real easy. A whole salmon done this way--head on, of course, makes a statement and serves a lot of people, but you can do any size piece. I like to use the already whole filet—one side of the salmon.


  1. Make sure the scales on the skin side are all scraped from the skin, wash the fish and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. In a pan large enough to hold a salmon filet and deep enough to cover the entire thing with water, place fish skin side down and cover with water
  3. Add 1 C dry white Vermouth or dry white wine, a dozen whole black pepper corns, 2 bay leaves,  the juice of I lemon, one thin sliced small onion, 1 large chopped clove of garlic, cut off stems of a large bunch of fresh garlic, 1 TBS minced fresh tarragon,  1 TBS fresh thyme leaves.
  4. Bring fish slowly to a boil, and then turn it off. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover the pan with plastic wrap and chill overnight (up to 48 hrs.) in the refrigerator
  5. Before serving, support and lift fish carefully so it remains intact. Place skin side down onto serving platter, and wipe gently with paper toweling to remove white coagulation and seasonings from cooking liquid on the surface
  6. Serve with herbed mayonnaise. Garnish salmon filet with any or all of the following: Hard boiled eggs, cut lengthwise into quarters, capers, diced purple onion (could be pickled), thin slices of cucumber, fresh dill weed, fresh parsley, thin slices of lemon, whole pink pepper corns.

PAIR WITH: a crisp, refreshing chilled dry Michigan Rosé or Unoaked Chardonnay to match the richness of the herbed mayonnaise and the accompanying garnishes of the dish.
TRY: The dry rosé with lively fruit flavors, Left Foot Charley Blaufrankisch Rosé, from winemaker Brian Ulbrich, which just took a Double Gold Medal and Best of Class at the Michigan Wine Competition
TRY: Verterra Unoaked Chardonnay 2016 So often masked by oaky, buttery notes, the amazing fruit of the Chardonnay grape shines in this crisp, dry wine with its classic flavors of lemon and ripe apple.

Roz Mayberry

About Roz: During her distinguished career, Roz has served a term as the Retail Representative on the MDA's Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council and Continues to serve on their Promotion & Education and Competition Committees. In addition, she has served as a judge in various national and international wine competitions.

Working with D&W's wine stewards and SpartanNash's vendor partners, Roz tirelessly explores the vast world of wine, discovering the finest wines for every budget and every taste. And she loves to discuss food and wine with customers and colleagues. As a lifelong foodie, there is nothing else she'd rather be doing.