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What Wine Goes With Fish? Pairing Guide 

What Wine Goes With Fish? Pairing Guide 

Fish is a delicate dish. However, since no wine enthusiast can resist pairing wine with fish, we must discuss the perfect pairings that will amplify the meal’s flavor.

What Wine Goes With Fish Red or White?

Fish is a flexible dish, so there are many wine-pairing options. Generally speaking, most wine experts suggest serving fish with white wine. However, some red wines pair beautifully with fish, so it can be served with red or white wine.

Tips For Pairing Wine With Fish 

There are different types of fish, including lean and flaky, medium-textured, meaty, and intensely flavored fish.

Lean and flaky fish is mildly flavored. The fillets are usually thin, and the fish has a flaky texture. The most popular lean and flaky fish types include sea bass, tilapia, branzino haddock, sole, and pollock.

Medium-textured fish is still flaky. However, it has a firmer, denser consistency and texture than lean and flaky fish.

Popular medium-textured fish includes trout, cord, Chilean seabass, haddock, hake, and halibut.

Meaty fish has a firm texture that is often compared to steak. Tuna, Mahi Mahi, bluefish, swordfish, sharks, and mackerel are popular types of meaty finish.

Lastly, intensely flavored fish have a salty flavor reminiscent of the sea. Sardines, mackerel, herring, and anchovies are examples of strongly flavored fish.

Lean and flaky fish is best served with light-bodied white wines such as Pinot Gris. In contrast, medium textured, meaty, and strongly flavored fish work well with more robust wines like Rose, Viognier, or an oaked Chardonnay.

Another consideration for fish and wine pairings is the cooking method. The cooking method plays a huge role in the fish-wine pairing.

For example, fried fish needs an acidic wine that cuts through the grease and cleanses the palette. On the other hand, if the steamed fish pairs better with a bottle of light-bodied white wine is best.

The ingredients can also play a role in wine-pairing. Fish served with a cream-based sauce should be served with an acidic wine. The acidic nature of the wine will cleanse the palette, preparing it for another bite.

In contrast, spicy fish meals need a sweet wine to offset the spicy flavor of the spices.

What Wine Pairs With Fish?

Fish is a delicate dish, so pairing it with the wrong wine is out of the question. Since the wine pairing will depend on the type of fish and how it is cooked, we will discuss pairings for both sections.

Lean Flaky Fish

Sauvignon Blanc is a French white wine produced in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux. Depending on the style, Sauvignon Blanc can have a peppery citrus or herbaceous flavor.

Sauvignon Blanc is one of the top choices for lean, flaky, mildly flavored fish such as tilapia, pollock, or haddock. 

If you are going to serve Sauvignon Blanc with lean flaky fish, use a simple cooking method like baking or broiling. You can add herbs such as dill or basil to the fish. These herbs will pair perfectly with the herbaceous notes in the wine.

Medium-Textured Fish

Gamay is a red wine originating out of the Beaujolais region of France. Gamay’s flavor is similar to Pinot Noir. However, it is more affordable than Pinot Noir.

It has low tannic activity making it the perfect pairing for fish. Gamay works best with baked medium-textured fish such as sea bass.

The wine’s acidic flavor accentuates the flavors of the fish. However, the fish also complement the Gamay wine by highlighting the subtle undertones of black currant, banana, and violet.

Meaty Fish

Meaty fish works well with Rose wine. The light fruity flavor will provide a nice contrast to the firm steak-like fish.

White Zinfandel also pairs well with meaty fish. White Zinfandel is an American wine that has a sweet flavor.

The flavor pairs perfectly with tuna, salmon, or any grilled meaty fish. You will be hit with an initial burst of sweetness that compliments the smoky char flavor of the fish perfectly. You will also experience notes of oak or blackberry.

You can also serve meaty fish with Pinot Noir. Compared to other red wines, Pinot Noir is not as robust. It is a light-bodied wine with low tannins.

Pinot Noir is best for freshwater salmon or trout. The dense, meaty texture of the fish can handle the fruity flavor of Pinot Noir.

Strongly Flavored Fish

Pinot Gris works perfectly with strongly flavored fish. The rich acidity and fruity profile make it the perfect pairing for strongly flavored fish.

The fruity flavor provides a beautiful contrast to the intensely flavored fish. The acidity also removes the strong taste from the palette providing a burst of refreshing flavor.

Fried Fish

Crispy seasoned fried fish works perfectly with sparkling wines such as Prosecco. The prosecco will provide acidity that cuts through the grease and cleanses the palette by removing the dense carbohydrates.

Chenin Blanc is also a good option for fried fish. The sweet citrusy flavor elevates the fish. The acidity cleanses the palette, which prepares your palette for another crispy fish bite.

Seared or Grilled Fish

Pinot Gris is the best option for seared or grilled fish. Pinot Gris is a crisp, dry wine with the perfect balance of acidity and fruitiness. 

Italian and French Pinot Gris are excellent with seared or grilled fish choices. However, if you want a less acidic Pinot Gris, choose an American version.

Nevertheless, the fruity flavor amplifies the smoky char flavor of grilled fish. It also contrasts perfectly with a beautifully seared piece of fish. The acidity helps remove the dense flavors from your palette.

Fish Cooked With Sauce

Choose a wine that complements the sauce if the fish is cooked in a sauce. If the fish is cooked in an acidic lemon sauce, it pairs best with wines with a strong citrus profile, such as Sauvignon Blanc. 

Creamy sauces pair well with oaked Chardonnay because they have the same buttery smooth texture. If the fish is cooked in tomato sauce or another dark sauce, serve it with a light-bodied red wine or a full-bodied white wine.

If the fish has a teriyaki sauce, you can serve it with Lambrusco. The fruity tones will highlight the sweetness in the teriyaki sauce while providing the perfect contrast to the sour elements of the sauce.

Fish Curry

Fish curry needs a wine that balances it out. Acidic wines such as Gewürztraminer can balance out the spicy flavor of fish curry. The acidity of the wine will cleanse the palette of the spicy flavor.

Sweeter wines such as Riesling or Moscato can boost the fish curry’s flavor while helping dilute the spicy flavor. 

Do not pair fish curry with a wine with a high alcohol profile. The alcohol will amplify the curry’s spicy flavor and make your mouth feel like it’s on fire.

Final Thoughts

Fish and wine are a match made in heaven. So, grab some fish and a bottle of wine the next time you go to the store and test out this theory.