Pairing Wine with Fish

2018-02-04T07:08:29-05:00February 4th, 2018|Wine|0 Comments

Author: Madeline Puckette

Learn what wines pair best with the four different groups of fin fish. From flaky tilapia to steak-like swordfish, there are a range of potential wine pairings. Beyond just the choice of fish, the sauce and fish preparation affects what tastes best when pairing wine with fish.

Wine with Fish Guide

4 Different Types of Fish with Wine

Fin fish can be characterized into 4 major groups by texture and flavor. As a general rule white wine pairs well with most fish, but certain white wines go better with certain types of fish.

1. Lean and Flaky Fish

Mild flavored white fish with filets that are usually thin.

  • Sea Bass, Branzino, Black Sea bass, Flounder, Perch, Porgy, Sole, Fluke, Tilapia, Wild Striped Bass, Pollock, Haddock

Wine with Flaky Fish

Look for zesty and refreshing whites to balance the delicate fish flavor.

Grüner Veltliner
Vermentino (Italy)
Pinot Grigio (Italy)
White wines from the South of France

Vinho Verde (Portugal)
Muscadet (Loire)
Greek Whites
Portuguese Whites

Sauvignon Blanc (Loire, France)
Sauvignon Blanc (Washington)
White Bordeaux
Verdejo (Rueda, Spain)
Chardonnay (Chablis, France)

2. Medium Textured Fish

Still flaky but firmer and thicker.

  • Trout, Arctic char, Catfish, Red snapper, Grouper, Skate, Cod, Hake, Black fish, Haddock, Redfish, Halibut, Black Cod (Sablefish), Monkfish, Chilean Seabass, Escobar

Wine with Medium Textured Fish

Look for medium bodied whites with high aromatics and rich full-bodied whites aged in oak.

Sauvignon Blanc (CA)
Sauvignon Blanc (NZ)
White Rioja

Dry Chenin Blanc
Fiano (Italy)
Moschofilero (Greece)

Dry Riesling (Washington)
Pinot Gris (US)
Pinot Gris (Alsace)
Garganega (Soave)

3. Meaty Fish

Types of fish that are firm with a meaty and steak-like texture.

  • Bluefish, Salmon, Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, Shark, Swordfish, Tuna, Monkfish

Wine with Meaty Fish

Rich white wines with lots of flavor and even a few red and rosé wines.

Oaked Chardonnay
Sauvignon Vert (Italy)
Dry Lambrusco

Vintage Champagne
White Burgundy
Dry Rosé
Chardonnay (Italy)

White Cotes du Rhone
White Pinot Noir
Pinot d’Alsace

4. Strongly Flavored Fish

Strongly flavored fishes that are salty and taste like the sea.

  • Anchovies, Sardines, Herring, Mackerel

Wine with Strongly Flavored Fish

Cremant de Bourgogne
Cremant de Limoux
Cremant de Bordeaux

Dry Lambrusco Rosé
Dry Rosé
Pinot Noir

Greek Red Wines
Dry Riesling
Grenache Blanc

Fish Preparations & Sauces

Zesty Sauces with Wine

Beurre Blanc, Lemon, Lime, Vinegar-based Sauces

Try lighter zestier white wines and wines with more herbal and savory characteristics such as Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadet, Cortese di Gavi, Verdejo, Vinho Verde, White Bordeaux and Grenache Blanc.

Sweet Sauces with Wine

Pineapple, Mango, Orange, Teriyaki, Sweet and Sour

Look for wines with a touch more sweetness than the sauce. The darker the sauce, the darker your wine should be in the rosé spectrum. For instance, Teriyaki with Lambrusco or Meyer lemon glazed tilapia with Spätlese Riesling.

Spicy Sauces with Wine

Paprika, Pepper, Cumin, Coriander, Chili
Chili crusted fish are more about the fish’s texture bringing out the spices and seasonings. Spiced fish dishes match well with spice driven wines such as Grüner Veltliner, Gewürztraminer, Riesling and even a lighter red wine such as Grenache.

Curry Sauces with Wine

Thai Curry, Indian Curry
Curry sauces tend to be a little sweet and because of their spices look for sweet wines like Riesling, Moscato, Gewürztraminer and Prosecco.

Fish Tacos with Wine

Fish tacos go really well with Grüner Veltliner, Muscadet and Champagne.

Herb Sauces with Wine

Basil, Parsley, Mint, Cilantro, Dill, Capers, Cucumber

Wines with herbaceous notes taste richly floral when paired with green herbs. Check out Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis, Grenache Blanc, Torrontés and Trebbiano.

Smoked Salmon or Trout with Wine

Richly smoked fishes are a little drier and need wine pairings that quench them. Garnacha rosé, Vintage Champagne, Rosé Sparkling Wines, Dry Riesling, Dry Furmint (Tokaji) and White Pinot Noir will pair well.

Raw Fish with Wine

Try most sparkling wines and bone dry white wines like Muscadet, Assyrtiko, Vinho Verde, Albariño, Dry Furmint (Tokaji) and Ugni Blanc (aka Trebbiano).