The best wine for seafood

You’ll find plenty of advice on the internet about what wines go with certain cheeses, meats and desserts but when it comes to the best wine for seafood information can be a little harder to come by. Like with all foods there are wines that complement fish and shellfish but some wines are best avoided. The challenge for seafood lovers is that there are so many flavours, textures and contained within many seafood dishes.

In this blog, we’ll try to give you some ideas about wine and seafood pairings.

Remember seafood is a protein that can be served cold or hot depending on the recipe and it could contain vegetables that will alter the flavour combinations. Start by thinking about what you’re serving with your seafood such as salad, rice or potatoes (carbohydrate) and then think about how much wine you want to serve per person. After all, we all have a budget and quantity vs quality is part of the equation. When pairing wine temperature, texture, flavour and quantity all have an impact.

You don’t need to pay the earth to enjoy seafood wine pairings. There are many types of seafood that you can find at your local supermarket and even white wine like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio will go well with a variety of seafood ingredients so these would be good choices to start out on. Needless to say, you’re better off choosing a wine online and then matching the fish or shellfish to what has been delivered already.

Now let’s talk about wine and seafood pairings in a little more detail.

Easy wine seafood combinations

If seafood is hot and served with rice or vegetables consider a dry white such as Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc. These wines can also be used when your seafood is cold in a salad, sandwich or wrap so you might want to order a few bottles.

If you’re serving seafood with vegetables or salad (carbohydrate) think about seafood like salmon, trout, halibut and lobster which are all good choices to enjoy with dry white wines.

Red wine and seafood?

When it comes to pairing seafood with red wine there are a few tips that will help you choose the right one if your seafood is served hot.

If seafood is in a soup, stew or sauce red wines that are light to medium-bodied go well with seafood such as Pinot Noir, Merlot and Zinfandel. If seafood contains tomato consider lighter versions of these wines which will allow the seafood flavours to stand out more rather than overpowering them. When it comes to seafood that has a strong flavour such as tuna, mussels, oysters and clams seafood wines with a medium body can also work well.

Cold food from the sea (Nourriture froide de la mer)

If your seafood is served cold or in salad consider pairing it with lighter-bodied red wines like Pinot Noir which will go nicely with seafood salads. If you’re serving crab legs for example think about seafood wines such as Merlot, Zinfandel and Shiraz.

Not just for drinking – wine in the sauce

If seafood is cooked in a wine sauce consider seafood wines that have similar flavours like Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay to go with it. If you’re serving shellfish think about white wines that are lighter-bodied such as Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and seafood rose wines.

Fried fish and wine

If seafood is fried think about pairing it with a sweeter white wine such as Riesling or Gewurztraminer which will complement the seafood flavours nicely while balancing out some of the oil. These also work well with crab cakes, tuna steak and meaty fish.

Consider your choices

When cooking seafood, remember that you can’t take shortcuts when choosing seafood wines. You can’t just grab a bottle of red because seafood is on the menu. As you know seafood wines need to be paired with seafood and seafood alone, not wine sauces or other ingredients which would change the flavour profile too much.

Chef’s Tip:

If you’re going to use seafood in a stir fry dish make sure that seafood is cooked first. Seafood should not be added to the wok until everything else has been cooked for a few minutes because seafood will only take seconds to cook and you don’t want it overcooked or undercooked.

Chilled wines

When cooking seafood, make sure that seafood wines are kept on ice ready to pour when your seafood is served so they stay cool and fresh. Temperature can really make a difference to the flavour combinations, especially with cold kinds of seafood where added complexity can be found. Be careful not to overdo it though, too cold and you’ll have just anesthetised your taste buds.

Shellfish wines

If seafood is cooked in a shell consider pairing it with seafood wines such as Pinot Noir which has similar flavours to the seafood.

Lobster, prawns and mussels are great choices for seafood wine pairings because they will go well with white wines such as Riesling or Chardonnay.

Best wine pairing

As with all cooking and consuming, it’s always good to have a list and here we have one to start you off. The one we’re still stuck with is what wine goes with shrimp cocktail. In the meantime, here are some others:

  • White fish – Sauvignon blanc – Pinot grigio, Chardonnay
  • Salmon – Pinot gris/grigio – Soave Classico DOCG
  • Tuna or swordfish steak – Italian white wines from Alto Adige such as Gewürztraminer, Riesling Italico and Vernatsch. These wines have a medium body and a very dry taste, ideal for seafood dishes as they won’t drown the natural seafood flavours.
  • Red fish – Sauvignon blanc – Pinot grigio
  • We’re going to keep adding to this list so make sure to check back and send in any suggestions.

To take a look at some of our recommended wines to pair with seafood visit our seafood pairing page

Photo by Stefan Johnson on Unsplash