Although there are exceptions to the rule, it is safe to say seafood is paired best with white wines. Why? Red wine has an increased amount of tannin, which often results in a less than pleasant dining experience when paired with the oils found in most fish. This unpleasant taste is best described as overly fishy or metallic- making white wine the clear winner. However, as with most wine and food pairing endeavors- there is more than meets the eye.
Choosing the perfect wine to pair with your favorite seafood dishes shouldn’t be a headache- so we’ve curated the perfect wine and seafood guide, just for you!
Lean fish refers to fish that is mild in flavor and often flaky in texture. Fish in this category include black seabass, tilapia, flounder, haddock, fluke, lobster, wild striped bass, mussels, pollock, and haddock- to name a few.
When pairing wine with a lean, flaky fish, be cautious not to overpower the fish’s delicate flavors and textures. The ideal wine, in this case, is sharp and refreshing. Pair these fish with wines such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis style Chardonnay, Grüner Veltliner, Champagne, Loire Valley whites, and Cava.
While the medium-textured fish is still white and flaky, they tend to be thicker in texture and bolder in flavor. Due to the more substantial amounts of both texture and richness, these fish pair nicely with fuller-bodied white wines. Examples of medium-textured fish include, but are not limited to, Chilean seabass, trout, halibut, catfish, escobar, snapper, and blackfish.
Being that these fish are substantially heartier than a lean fish, they can pair well with wines such as California-styled Chardonnays, Sauvignon Blancs, White Bordeaux Blends, Dry Rieslings, and Pinot Gris.
Firm, Hearty Fish
As our fish textures progress to a meatier, steak-like texture, it comes as no surprise that they’d pair well with richer, fuller-bodied wines! Fish that fall into this category include salmon, mahi-mahi, shark, tuna, scallops, swordfish, marlin, and ocean trout.
These hearty fish pair well with a variety of wines such as oaked Chardonnay, Viogner, Vintage Champagnes, and Rousanne.
What exactly is a bold-flavored fish, you ask? Fish that fall into this category are often quite fishy, salty, and closely mimic the flavors of its origin, the ocean. That’s right. We’re talking sardines, anchovies, mackerel, salmon, and herring!
As expected, pairing these bolder flavors can be much more challenging in comparison to their milder counterparts. However, nothing is ever impossible! We recommend pairing these strongly flavored fish with all things bubbly- Champagne, Crémant, Rosé-style bubbles, Cava, and more!
Our White Wine & Seafood 101 would not be complete without our favorite raw seafood pairings! Fresh fish such as sashimi, oysters, ceviche, tuna tartare, etc. pair nicely with crisp, acidic wines. Try pairing these foods with an Albariño, Sauvignon Blanc, bone dry bubbles, Chablis-styled Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Grüner Veltliner, or dry Rieslings.
Do you have a favorite seafood and wine pairing? Let us know by leaving a comment below.