Is there any way to enhance a seafood dining experience? As a matter of fact, there is: pairing it with the perfect wine. These two are meant for each other, as the latter complements and enhances the flavor profiles of the fish. Although a white wine is the first thing that comes to mind, especially a Sauvignon Blanc or a Grüner Veltliner (which go well with almost any seafood), some wines will work better than others depending on the weight and substance of the fish, the type of fish and the way it has been cooked. Let’s explore the different pairing options for wine and seafood.
Not every fish is the same, not every wine works
Fish like halibut or perch, which are usually mild-flavored with a flaky texture, usually work very well with white or light red wines, such as Gewürztraminer Pinot Grigio, due to the balance of flavor. Medium textured fish, which have thicker meat, such as Haddock, Sablefish, or Catfish, work extremely well with a medium-bodied Chardonnay, Dönnhoff, or White Rioja Semillon. Whereas Bluefish, Salmon or Tuna, which are meaty fish, are better enjoyed when joined by a rich-flavored white such as an Oaked Chardonnay, or a White Burgundy.
A steak-like texture, meaty fish, let’s say swordfish or tuna, can have a very firm texture which pairs exceptionally well with strong flavored white wines. The old pairing rule suggests that white wines enhance the flavors of the sea, and some red wines can be just as good partners. Actually, oily fish, such as Mackerel or Salmon, are especially tasty when you sip a nice Californian Pinot Noir.
You shouldn’t be afraid of pairing red wine and seafood. Forget about the old cliché and pick a Syrah or a Grenache when you feel like eating shellfish like lobster, crab, or oysters. Next time you decide on seafood, don’t worry about strong flavored fish either, a dry Rosé or dry Lambrusco Rosé, will do the trick. Remember, experiencing new pairings is part of the adventure. And with a Coravin, you are given the freedom to pair whites, reds and rosés with your fish choices without ever opening the bottle and wasting wine. See how the magic works here.
Because how it’s cooked always matter
As with almost everything else, the sauce and flavor profile will help you find the right pairing. For example, the sweetness of an off-dry Alsatian Gewürztraminer will perfectly match spicy sauce based dish, whereas a Gewürztraminer or a Riesling will better complement spicy sauces, which contain paprika and chili. An off-dry Eroica will retain its acidity to cut the sweetness just as well. When approaching a dish with a mixed, versatile profile it’s recommended to pick a light Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc to help you transit early among salty and sweet flavors. Who doesn’t enjoy a nice curry sauce, right? Well, next time try accompanying curry-based seafood with a glass of Moscato or Prosecco; you’re welcome!
Red sauces’ acidity, usually tomato-based, can be balanced almost to perfection with a nice, delicate Txakoli Rosé or a Cru Beaujolais. White-fleshed fish in citrus sauces will be more enjoyable when accompanied by a glass of Spaniard Albariño, Condes de Albarei, or Lusco. The herbal taste of Cortese di Gavi will work magically with seafood in zesty sauces based with lemon and vinegar. For those dishes prepared with a Meunière sauce, a wine with more tanginess, like a Viognier or a Burgundy, may be the best options. Roasted or grilled dishes, usually prepared with vegetables and herbs, are better enjoyed with a fruity, savory wine, like a Viognier, which tannin complements the flavors and texture of the fish.
Now that we have taken a deep dive into the world of fish and wine pairing, we hope that you have emerged with an ocean-full of knowledge. Go ahead and try pairing seafood and shellfish with some of the wines mentioned here, or come up with your own delectable pairings. Keep these tips in mind and go ahead, and take the plunge!