Best Wine with Fish

Best Wine with Fish

Learning what wines pair best with your favorite fish dishes will allow you to enhance your culinary experience. Learn about pairing wine with the different kinds of fish, as well as pairing with popular fish dish flavors.

Types of Fish and Wine Pairings

One of the first things you hear about food and wine pairing is that fish should go with white wine. While that is pretty general, most fish and how they are prepared are excellent pairings for white wine. As a general rule, that is good advice. Here is how you narrow down your wine pairings to go with the exact type of fish you are eating.

Delicate Light Fish: Trout, arctic char, catfish, cod

Medium-Firm Fish- Seabass, lingcod, rockfish

Meaty Firm Fish- Salmon, tuna, swordfish

Intensely Flavored Fish- Herring, sardine

Delicate Light Fish

Delicate fish have light and flaky white meat and are typically seasoned and made to be a light dish.

Catfish, cod, flounder, perch, tilapia, haddock, sole.

Wine Pairings

Acidic and light white wines pair well with delicate light fish

  • Sparkling Wine (Prosecco)
  • Albarino (Rias Baixas, Spain)
  • Grunder Veltliner (Reserve DAC from Austria)
  • Pinot Gris (Fruity style from the United States or Australia)
  • Sauvignon Blanc (Marlborough, New Zealand)
  • Soave (New vintage from Veneto, Italy)
  • Vermentino (Sardinia, Italy)
  • Chardonnay (unoaked from Chablis)
  • Vinho Verde (Portugal)

 

Medium-Firm Fish

Medium to firm fish has a bit more ‘oomph’ to them. They often are served in fish tacos and ethnic dishes or seen with heavier sauces than the light flaky fish.

Seabass, lingcod, rockfish, halibut, trout, arctic char, sablefish, hake

Wine Pairings

Medium to firm fish pair well with acidic white wines that have a light to medium body and mouthfeel.

  • Chenin Blanc (South Africa)
  • Albarino (Vinho Verde, Spain)
  • Assyrtiko (Macedonia, Greece)
  • Sparkling Wine (Cava from Spain)
  • Melon (Muscadet, France)
  • Gargenega (Soave, Sicily, Italy)
  • Friulano (Veneto, Italy)
  • Colombard (South Africa)

 

Meaty Firm Fish

Thick and flaky fish with a firm texture. This is the most versatile fish. Richer white wines (and even some roses and light reds, depending on the flavor of the dish) go well with meaty firm fish.

Salmon (my favorite when done on cedar grilling planks!), tuna, swordfish, shark

Wine Pairings

  • Viura (Rioja, Spain)
  • Vinho Verde (Portugal)
  • Unoaked Chardonnay (California, USA)
  • Rose of Pinot Noir (Washington State, USA)
  • Falanghina (Campania, Italy)
  • Sparkling Wine (Franciacorta from Italy)
  • Grenache Blanc (Rhone Valley, France)
  • Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA)
  • Rose of Sangiovese (Washington State, USA)
  • Picpoul (Languedoc, France)

 

Intensely Flavored Fish

Often canned, these fish are salty, fishy and strong. While these wines pair well with the fish by themselves, they are often paired with a wide variety of flavors and foods because they are strongly flavored. Make sure to pair these fish by the overall flavor of the dish.

Anchovies, mackerel, herring, sardines.

Wine Pairings

  • Pinot Noir (Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA)
  • Rose of Pinot Noir (Washington State, USA)
  • Gamay (Beaujolais, France)
  • Chardonnay (Burgundy, France)
  • Semillon (Bordeaux, France)
  • Viognier (Barossa Valley, Australia)
  • Dry Riesling (Alsace, France)
  • Chenin Blanc (Loire Valley, France

Fish Preparation Wine Pairings

While the general rule is to pair fish with white wine, let’s narrow it down some. The best rule to follow for all wine pairing is to pair to the flavor of the dish and focus less on what the meat is. There are such a wide variety of fish, flavors of dishes, and wines; so getting the right fish and wine pairing can really change your experience. Make sure you are using the right type of white wine glasses.

Flavors of Dishes

Raw Fish- Sushi and sashimi.

Smoked Fish- Rich meaty smoked fish, lox

Creamy Sauces- Cream or cheese sauces

Spicy- Curries, chili, pepper, international cuisine

Sweet Sauce- Mango chutney, teriyaki, sweet & sour sauce

Citrus/Acidic- Lemon, vinegar

 

Raw Fish

Tuna and salmon are the most common raw fish items you will find. Try pairing with a bone dry sparkling or white wine. It does well with a meaty fish as well as the sweet dipping sauces.

Smoked Fish

Yay! A fish dish that pairs well with roses and light reds. This is a great dish for a Beaujolais Nouveau or Rose of Pinot Noir. If you prefer white wine, try pairing smoked fish with a light and acidic white, like Sauvignon Blanc.

Cream and Cheese Sauces

Creamy pasta and fish dishes are heavy and in need of an acidic dry white. Try an unoaked Chardonnay or Albarino, they will cut through the fat of the dish and pair well with the herbs.

Spicy Dishes

For those who all things spicy and foreign, whip out a bottle of off-dry or sweet white wine for curries, pepper, and other hot fish dishes. Riesling and Gewurztraminer pair well with spicy fish dishes.

Sweet Sauce

Mango chutney, sweet and sour sauce, and teriyaki need to be paired with a wine that is a little bit sweeter than the dish. An off-dry Riesling or sweet sparkling wine will pair well.

Citrus/Acidic

Sometimes less is more and the best way to prepare fish is to simply squeeze some lemon on it. For those who like plain and simple, pair your fish with a Sauvignon Blanc or Verdejo.

What is your favorite fish dish? Have you ever tried pairing fish with red wine or rose?