What Wine Goes With Fish

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 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


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.

Medium texture

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

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.



Intensely flavored

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.


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. 

While the above includes recommendations of some of the typical and most popular wine pairings with some of the mainstream seafood, we certainly encourage you to experiment on your own and choose what wine pairs best to your own pallet.

Now that you’re an expert on wine and fish pairing, you can earn more about pairing fish and wine as your next conquest.