How to pair wine with seafood

Oneforthetable.comSeptember 10, 2013 

When it comes to serving wine with seafood, we want the wine to marry with the delicate flavors of the fish. In other words, the wine or the fish should not upstage each other in any way. Remaining complementary is key.

Retaining a refreshing palate with wine acidity and working with the flavors from rich and buttery sauces accompanying fish can be challenging.

Most dry white wines will work, but it’s good to keep some things in mind. Paying attention to the flavors of shellfish or fish you are serving will help guide you in your choice of varietal wine.

Many fish share a basic, gentle taste. A fish like tilapia comes to mind. With this and similar white fish, several wines work quite well. Wines aged in steel rather than oak, such as unoaked chardonnay, albarino, pinot gris, sauvignon blanc and gruner veltliner, will reward you with a nice acidity, cutting through the heavy, buttery sauces commonly served with these types of fish.

As for lobster, crab and scallops, the sweetness pairs nicely with the flavor profile of an oaked chardonnay.

With a meatier fish such as tuna, swordfish or striped bass, I always choose a spicier white such as viognier.

With grilled salmon, I love pinot noir or merlot. Yes, they are red. Choosing reds to drink with fish can be tricky, as they are often too powerful. What you need is a light-bodied red, low in tannins – a soft wine, for lack of a better word. A lovely pinot noir or Beaujolais is perfect.

Here are some of my favorite seafood dishes and the wines I love to serve with them:

Fried calamari: Brut Champagne/sparkling wine

Ceviche: Sauvignon blanc

Seafood risotto: Champagne/sparkling wine

Oysters: Chablis or Champagne/sparkling wine

Mussels: Chardonnay

Shrimp cocktail: Viognier or sauvignon blanc

Trout: Chardonnay

Dover sole: Pinot blanc, dry riesling or sangiovese

Clam chowder: Chardonnay

Cracked crab: Chenin blanc

Cathy Pollak runs her own vineyard and winery in Oregon. She shares her love of food and wine at One for the Table is an online magazine that specializes in food, politics, and love.

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