Best Wine for Fish?

I get this question a lot. What is the best wine to pair with fish?

Wine and fish are two of the world’s most sophisticated and flavorful things. When paired correctly, they can bring out the best in each other, creating a dining experience that is truly divine. However, with so many different types of fish and wines to choose from, it can be overwhelming to know which ones work best together. This blog post will explore the best wines to pair with fish and recommend the best pairings for the most common restaurant fish dishes, explaining why each wine works with that dish.

Grilled Salmon with Pinot Noir

Grilled salmon is a popular restaurant dish, and it pairs beautifully with a light-bodied red wine such as Pinot Noir. The subtle fruitiness of the wine enhances the delicate flavors of the salmon. The tannins in the wine cut through the rich texture of the fish, creating a perfect balance. A Pinot Noir from California or Oregon would work well with grilled salmon, as its subtle earthy flavor complements the fish’s natural taste.

Try one of these Pinot Noir:

2016 Domaine Lecheneaut Les Pruliers

This is towards the more expensive end of the price range, but undoubtedly this is an exceptional wine. Les Pruliers has a strong color. The wine offers fresh red fruit, wild prunes, and licorice aromas. As it ages, it adds depth and roundness. It has aromas of cocoa and smoked meat.

2019 Fanny Sabre Bourgogne Rouge

More affordable is the Fanny Sabre Bourgogne Rouge. This is an organic pinot noir that’s delicate, easy to drink, and naturally delicious. It has a fresh, crunchy, summer pudding fruit flavor with crisp acidity and just lip-smacking moreishness. And because it’s low in sulfur, it’s great for summer or winter drinking.

2018 Corazza Pinot Nero

At the lower end of the price range is the Pinot Nero. This is a unique wine from Friuli, a region in northeastern Italy. It is from the pinot noir grape and is unlike other pinot noirs that you will have tried. It’s light, bright, and easy to drink.

Fish Tacos with Sauvignon Blanc

Fish tacos are a fun and casual dish that found in many restaurants. The combination of fried fish, salsa, and lime juice requires a wine that can cut through the acidity and enhance the flavors. Sauvignon Blanc is a great choice for fish tacos, as it has a crisp acidity that balances the spicy salsa and enhances the lime flavors. A Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand would be a good option, as it has a bright citrus flavor that complements the dish.

I recommend the following Sauvignon Blanc:

Bread & Butter North Coast Sauvignon Blanc

This Sauvignon Blanc has bright aromas of lemon zest, hints of tropical fruit, lively flavors with citrus notes, and a rich texture and a clean finish.

2021 Decoy California Sauvignon Blanc

Aromas of pineapple, lemon, and green apple lead the way for this crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Underneath those fresh scents is a layer of lime zest that adds another exciting dimension to your taste, which lingers in your mouth long after each sip.

Lieu Dit Sauvignon Blanc 2017

This Sauvignon Blanc has aromas of ripe kiwi, lemon, and lime accented by hints of green apples. The palate is full and creamy with a rich mouthfeel balanced by crisp acidity.

Fish and Chips with Chardonnay

Fish and chips is a classic comfort food dish that pairs well with a full-bodied white wine such as Chardonnay. The fish’s buttery texture is balanced by the richness of the wine, creating a perfect match. A Chardonnay from California or Australia would be a good option, as its bold flavor complements the deep-fried fish.

Look out for these Chardonnays:

Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay

This vineyard is located in California, and it’s a great place to start your search for a good Chardonnay with crab legs. This wine, from grapes grown in the Sonoma Valley, where the climate is ideal for Chardonnay. Fermented and aged in French and American oak barrels for richness, toastiness, and complexity.

J. Lohr Chardonnay

This California winery has been making award-winning wines for over 30 years, and this Chardonnay is no exception. They use grapes from their own vineyards in Monterey County, which means that you can be sure the quality is always high. This wine has a rich golden color with notes of citrus and vanilla on the nose.

Ladera Vineyards Chardonnay

This Chardonnay, from grapes grown in the Santa Lucia Highlands, which is a cool climate area. It’s aged in French oak barrels for about 15 months before bottling. It has notes of vanilla and toasted hazelnuts on the nose.

Hagafen Cellars “Reserve” Napa Valley Chardonnay

Made from grapes grown in Napa Valley. It has a rich golden color with notes of citrus, vanilla, and toasted hazelnuts on the nose. Again, this wine is aged 18 months in French oak barrels before bottling.

Tuna Steak with Malbec

Tuna steak is a popular dish in many upscale restaurants, and it pairs well with a bold red wine such as Malbec. The wine complements the meaty texture of the tuna, creating a perfect balance. A Malbec from Argentina would be a good option, as it has a rich fruitiness that enhances the flavors of the tuna.

Any of these Malbecs will hit the spot:

2018 Catena Zapata Nicasia Vineyards Malbec (Argentina)

Critic tasting note: “The Nicasia Vineyard was planted on stony soils in the Altamira zone in 1996. The wine was 100% whole-cluster fermented and 100% in barrels. After two years of aging in oak, this malbec can capture the essence of Altamira, that austere side that the stony soils give, and the aromas of red fruits and violets that are very characteristic of the heights of the Uco Valley. The texture is firm and has very sharp tannins acting as pillars to show the crisp and lively fruit clearly.” – 96/100Patricio Tapia – Descorchados

2016 Altos Las Hormigas ‘Appellation Gualtallary’ Malbec (Argentina)

Critic tasting note: “Located above 1,300 meters a.s.l. in the Gualtallary zone, the 15-year-old vineyard that produces the grapes for this wine is planted on a selection of sandy loam soils with stones “painted” with lime. The wine ages in foudres for 2 years, and the result is a delight of flavors recalling cherries and red fruit in general with a firm structure and acidity as sharp as a knife. The wine shoots through the mouth like an arrow, slicing through it like air.” – 96/100Patricio Tapia – Descorchados


2015 Bodega Mauricio Lorca Poetico Malbec (Argentina)

Critic tasting note: “This is a blend of wines from Vista Flores, planted in 1999, and from Los Árboles, planted more or less at the same time. It was aged in barrels for 14 months and spent another four years in bottles before its release to market, a decision that’s pretty unusual in these times for South American wines. The result is a red with tremendous varietal purity, with a touch of flowers and ripe red fruits in a context of tremendous friendliness and balance.” – 95/100Patricio Tapia – Descorchados

Lobster with Chardonnay

My personal favorite. Lobster is a luxurious dish that pairs well with a full-bodied white wine like Chardonnay. The rich buttery texture of the lobster is balanced by the richness of the wine, creating a perfect match. A Chardonnay from Burgundy or California would be a good option, as it has a subtle oakiness that complements the natural flavor of the lobster.

Again, these examples of Chardonnay will be perfect with your lobster dish. (More detail above)

Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay

J. Lohr Chardonnay

Ladera Vineyards Chardonnay

Hagafen Cellars “Reserve” Napa Valley Chardonnay

Check out this simple but delicious recipe for grilled lobster and enjoy a chilled glass of Chardonnay with it. I can’t think of a better wine and fish pairing.

Seared Scallops with Riesling

Seared scallops are a delicate dish that pairs well with a light-bodied white wine such as Riesling. The sweetness of the scallops is enhanced by the subtle fruitiness of the wine, creating a perfect balance. A Riesling from Germany or Washington State would be a good option, as it has a crisp acidity that complements the dish’s delicate flavors.

Look out for these great examples:

Georg Albrecht Schneider Niersteiner Riesling Kabinett 2017

This Kabinett is a fresh, crisp wine with lingering sweetness balanced by tart lemon-lime acidity. Delicate wisps of smoke and earth lend touches of complexity throughout, adding dimensions to its fruity character.

Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese

Spätlese Riesling is richer and more intense in flavor than Kabinett. It has a lively minerality that perfectly balances the bright white peach and lemon fruit you’ll find here. Worth seeking out.

Ransom Sunnyside Vineyard Riesling (Willamette Valley of Oregon)

From the vineyard themselves, “This single vineyard, old vine bottling from the South Salem Hills is a classic, terroir-revealing Riesling. Opening with fresh fruit aromas of key lime and pineapple, the palate offers vivid acidity and flavors of Meyer lemon zest and candied ginger wrapped around a mineral vein. The wine finishes fresh and bright, with a beguiling note of honeysuckle blossom. A delight to drink now, but also exceedingly age-worthy.” 

Shrimp Scampi with Pinot Grigio

Shrimp scampi is a classic Italian dish that pairs well with a light-bodied white wine such as Pinot Grigio. The lemon and garlic flavors of the dish are complemented by the subtle fruitiness of the wine, creating a perfect match. A Pinot Grigio from Italy or California would be a good option, as it has a bright citrus flavor that complements the dish’s acidity.

2021 St. Michael-Eppan San Michele Appiano Pinot Grigio Sudtirol – Alto Adige

This wine has grown in popularity and is appreciated for its freshness, nice acidity, and pleasant, lingering aftertaste. Well worth seeking out.

2021 Pradio Priara Pinot Grigio Friuli Grave

This Pinot Grigio presents from the Pradio Italian family estate is pale yellow in color. Notes blend wildflowers and ripe fruit (apple, pear, banana). This wine has a long finish that is fresh and lingering on the palate.

2021 Cantina Zaccagnini Terre di Chieti IGT Pinot Gris

The color is straw yellow with a very pleasant aroma. It has clear fruity pear, green apple notes, and slight hints of aromatic herbs. The taste is dominated by freshness and savoriness; it’s light enough for crisp white fruit but still flavorful enough to appeal to those who prefer something on the sweeter side.

Grilled Swordfish with Syrah

Grilled swordfish is a hearty dish that pairs well with a full-bodied red wine such as Syrah. The meaty texture of the fish is complemented by the bold flavors of the wine, creating a perfect balance. A Syrah from Australia or California would be a good option, as it has a rich fruitiness that enhances the flavors of the swordfish.

I recommend you try one of the following with your Swordfish:

Calcareous Reserve Syrah 2020, Paso Robles

From the winery. “Aged in 40% deeply toasted French barrels for 18 months, our Estate Syrah is made to showcase the depth and power of the varietal from our soil. This massive wine is built for a marbled rib-eye and slow-smoked pork shoulder, full of juicy blackberry, dark cocoa, and tar mingling with rich, fully ripe tannin. It should age exquisitely for 12+ years.”    

Lewis Cellars Alec’s Blend 2018

A great wine to pair with. Flavors of black and red fruits with black pepper. Notes of vanilla and chocolate with good acidity. Blended 57% Syrah, 28% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon with the rest Cabernet Franc.

Conclusion

Pairing wine with fish can be challenging, but creating a perfect match is worth the effort. The best approach is to consider the flavors and textures of the dish and choose a wine that complements or contrasts with them. As we have seen in this blog post, there are many great wine options to pair with some of the most common restaurant fish dishes. Whether you prefer red or white there is a perfect wine pairing for every fish dish.

If you enjoyed this, check out my other suggested pairings for wine and seafood.