Seafood is absolutely delicious on its own, but learning what wine goes with fish enhances the experience that much more. From salmon and halibut, to swordfish and sardines, read on to learn the best pairings of wine with fish.
There are many different types of fish. Fish range from mild, to strong flavored and from flakey, to thick and dense. Due to the variety in types of fish, there is also of course a wide variety in what wine goes with fish.
Best Wine to Pair With Fish
It’s widely known that red meats pair best with red wines. Seafood wine pairing is well known for a wide array of white wines, typically. Even with the wide variety of types of fish, there are also many types of cooking styles which change the recommended wine pairing. Which ever wine you do choose, if you are cooking at home most places can get wine delivered so you don’t even have to make an extra trip.
White Wine With Fish
In terms of white wine for seafood, they can be easily paired based on type of fish. Types of fish fall into four categories. Lean and flakey, medium texture, meaty and intensely flavored.
Lean and flakey
This class of fish are the types of fish that go in fish tacos – as a good example. This spans fish like sea bass, flounder, sole, tilapia, and branzino.
The best wine pairing with lean and flakey fish is a zesty refreshing wine to compliment the delicate flavor of the fish. Choose from Pinot Grigio, Champagne, Cava, Sauvignon Blanc, and Unoaked Chardonnay to name a few.
This class of fish is also flakey, but it has a ticker and firmer texture than the previous classification of fish. This is because medium textured fish can be cooked in richer sauces and thus paired with more full flavored wines. Some fish in this class are catfish, snapper, grouper, black cod, and halibut.
The ideal pairings here have medium to rich full bodies and high aromatics. For example: Chardonnay, California Sauvignon Blanc, rioja, Dry Riesling and Pinot Gris.
A popular question is how to pair wine with halibut. Well, when choosing a halibut wine pairing it’s important to take into account the sauce and side dishes, but I would most likely recommend California Sauvignon Blanc if I had to choose one wine that would be most likely to pair well.
Meaty fish are easier to identify than the prior two groups because, they are, meaty with a steak-like texture. Examples here include swordfish, tuna, salmon and mahi mahi. Swordfish wine pairing is an interesting example since it has a unique flavor in addition to the texture.
Because this fish is so meaty, we recommend full flavored whites and even some roses for pairing. Some examples here are oaked chardonnay, Italian chardonnay, vintage champagne, dry rose, white burgundy and grenache blanc.
Strongly flavored fish taste like the ocean. What comes to mind? Perhaps anchovies, sardines, and uni? Exactly.
One thing to keep in mind when pairing wines with these fish is, interestingly, these fish are almost always paired with other strongly flavored food. For instance, anchovies on pizza. In this case you might even choose a red wine.
Wines to pair intensely flavored fish include champagne, Lambrusco, dry rose, pinot noir and Cava.
Tips on Pairing White Wine with Fish
Pairing white wine with fish is a classic combination and can greatly enhance the flavors of both the wine and the fish. Here are some tips to keep in mind when selecting a white wine to pair with fish:
Consider the type of fish:
Different types of fish have different flavor profiles, and this should be taken into account when choosing a white wine. For example, light and delicate white fish such as sole or cod pair well with crisp and acidic white wines like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio. On the other hand, oily fish such as salmon or tuna pair well with fuller-bodied white wines like Chardonnay.
Think about the preparation
The preparation of the fish can also influence the wine pairing. Grilled or roasted fish pairs well with medium-bodied white wines like Viognier or Chenin Blanc. Fish prepared in a creamy sauce pairs well with richer white wines like oaked Chardonnay.
Consider the wine’s acidity
The acidity of the white wine should match the acidity of the dish. A wine that is too acidic can overpower a delicate fish, while a wine that is not acidic enough can taste flat and uninteresting. Consider a white wine with a moderate to high acidity like a dry Riesling, Vermentino or Albariño for a balanced pairing.
Don’t forget about regional pairings
Certain white wines from specific regions have traditionally been paired with certain fish dishes. For example, a white wine from the Loire Valley in France, such as Sancerre or Muscadet, pairs well with oysters or other seafood from that region.
Remember, these are just guidelines and everyone’s taste is different. Ultimately, the best pairing is the one that you enjoy the most!
Red Wine With Fish
Red wine is not typically paired with fish because of its higher levels of tannin which interact with fish oils on your palate. If you are really craving red wine and decide to pair it with fish you are likely to experience a metallic taste in your mouth.
If you do choose to pair your fish with red wine, choose a low tannin red.
Tips on pairing Red Wine with Fish
As noted before, Red wine is generally not considered to be the best pairing for fish, as the tannins in many red wines can clash with the delicate flavors of fish. However, there are certain types of fish and preparations that can work well with certain red wines. Here are some tips to keep in mind when pairing red wine with fish:
Choose a lighter-bodied red wine
Lighter-bodied red wines such as Pinot Noir or Gamay are generally the best choice when pairing red wine with fish. These wines have less tannins than heavier red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah, which can overpower the flavors of fish.
Consider the preparation
Certain preparations of fish, such as grilled or smoked fish, can pair well with light-bodied, slightly smoky red wines like a Beaujolais or a Loire Valley red. In general, avoid red wines with heavy oak or strong tannins when pairing with fish.
Pair with a rich sauce
Fish dishes that have a rich, buttery or tomato-based sauce can sometimes be paired with a light-bodied red wine. For example, a salmon dish with a creamy sauce could be paired with a Pinot Noir.
Consider regional pairings
Some regional cuisines pair red wine with fish as part of their traditional cuisine. For example, in Spain, a Rioja or a Garnacha may be paired with grilled fish, or in Italy, a light-bodied red like a Chianti may be paired with a tomato-based fish dish.
Enhance your Meal
Pairing wine with fish can greatly enhance your dining experience. When choosing a wine to pair with your fish dish, it’s important to consider the type of fish, the preparation, the wine’s acidity, and any regional pairings that may be traditional. While white wine is generally the best choice for pairing with fish, lighter-bodied red wines can also be successful in certain situations. Remember, everyone’s taste is different, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find the pairing that works best for you. With a little knowledge and experimentation, you can find the perfect wine to complement your favorite fish dish and take your dining experience to the next level.
Now that you’re an expert on figuring out what wine goes with fish, you can earn more about pairing fish and wine as your next conquest.