How to Pair Wine with Seafood and Fish

August 17, 2020  |  By Liz SanFilippo Hall
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Fish baked with lemon and served with seasonal vegetables.When it comes to pairing wine with seafood and fish, there’s hardly a fast and hard rule, although white wine typically – but not always – works best. After all, every cut of fish and bite of seafood is different. Plus, it’s not just the seafood you’re pairing the wine with, but rather the sauce or broth that’s dressing the dish as well, which can make your wine pairing choice all the more difficult.

Even so, there are a few general rules of thumb.

If the fish is delicate and light, and so are its accompanying flavors, you’d do well to serve a Pinot Grigio or a Vinho Verde. But if the fish is fatty, try a Chardonnay instead.

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Dinner overlooking the sea on a Greek Island cooking vacationSo far it seems like white wine is the wine of choice, right? Unless you’re grilling that fish; then you may want to go with a light red wine instead, because, as always, how you cook your meal makes a difference in the wine pairing too.

The other big consideration when choosing a wine to go with your fish: the sauce, dressing, or even the broth. Have a dish slathered in tart sauce? Go with a Sauvignon Blanc. If it’s a brown butter sauce on your plate, then a Chardonnay is a better bet. And if we’re talking about a tomato-based sauce, then suddenly reds come into play as well!

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Tasty prawns saganaki and squid on a cooking vacation in Greece.Once you get into the territory of seafood dishes, other than fish, then there’s even more to consider. Shrimp can be paired with a plethora of white wines, but also beer, while the flavor of oysters goes well with a full-bodied white (and a French Vouvray, from the Loire Valley, is a classic pairing). Crab needs a light wine or one that enhances its inherent sweetness, like a dry Chenin blanc.

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Shrimp dishAs for the rich flavors of lobster, choose a well-balanced wine; light reds, like Pinot Noir, often work particularly well. Then again, if the lobster is broiled, consider a fruity Chardonnay instead, or a dry Rosé wine. If you’re serving mussels and clams, once again consider the broth; often a dry Muscadet typically works well.

Shellfish in general often go well with sparkling wines such as a Franciacorta from Lombardy, or, of course, Champagne!

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Oysters enjoyed on a culinary vacation.The last but most important consideration: your own palate. In other words, choose a wine that you like when you’re serving fish, because, really, when it comes to wine pairing with fish and seafood, the world is your oyster!

By Liz Hall

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