Do you crave seafood in the summer? We certainly do. After a long day at the beach, there is absolutely nothing better than a fresh-caught piece of fish and a glass of vino as the sun goes down. However, the best wine for seafood may be a little bit more complicated than you think!
So, what kind of wine should you choose? You’ve probably heard it said that red wine goes with meat, and white wine goes with fish. Problem solved, right? Sort of.
White wine does pair well with fish, but it’s a little more complicated than that. Not all white wines taste the same, and “fish” could mean anything from salmon to scallops.
Also, we don’t mean to shock you, but certain red wines actually pair very well with certain types of fish.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by this veritable sea of wine pairing options, don’t worry. Here’s a guide on how to pair wine with seafood, plus some of our favorite summertime pairings.
How to Pair Wine with Fish
It’s a good idea to consider the texture and flavor of the fish you’re eating when choosing a wine. However, if the sauce is the most prominent flavor on the plate, then use the sauce as your guide. Make sense?
Some types of fish are delicate, light, and flaky while others are practically steak – they just happen to come from the ocean. The intensity of the wine should match the texture of the fish.
- Light and flaky cuts of fish like sea bass or branzino pair well with a light and zippy white wine like Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, or Pinot Grigio.
- Fish with a heavier texture like tuna or salmon pair well with a rich white wine like oaked Chardonnay, or even a light red wine like Pinot Noir.
- For something in the middle, like trout or catfish, go with an aromatic, full-bodied white like White Rioja or Sémillon.
- When it comes to shellfish, it’s usually best to defer to the sauce. Generally, though, most mollusks pair well with a medium-bodied acidic white wine like unoaked Chardonnay (like white Burgundy) or German Riesling.
- Teriyaki and other sweet sauces pair well with a sweeter wine, like an off-dry rosé.
- Spicy sauces like curries go well with a sweet or slightly-sweet low-alcohol white wine like Riesling or Moscato.
- Herb-based sauces seasoned with basil, parsley, or mint pair well with a white wine with herbaceous notes, like Sauvignon Blanc or Torrontés.
Summertime Seafood and Wine Pairings
Both casual and elegant, the lobster roll is – for many – the quintessential bite of summer. Go with a light and fragrant white wine like Spanish Verdejo or a medium-bodied white wine like Chardonnay or Falanghina when treating yourself to this summertime delicacy.
Light and citrusy ceviche pairs well with a high-acid, citrusy white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Grüner Veltliner, or even a sparkling wine. In the spirit of “what grows together, goes together,” you might want to choose a Sauvignon Blanc from South America.
However you like your “chowda,” there’s a wine that will take it to the next level. Creamy New England clam chowder goes well with a similarly creamy oaked Chardonnay. Tomato-based Manhattan clam chowder wants a light white wine with some minerality like the Greek white wine Assyrtiko.
When it comes to shrimp cocktail, you’ve got options. You could go with a white wine with a touch of sweetness like an off-dry Riesling, a fruity medium-bodied red like Merlot, or even a sparkling wine like Cava.
Crispy Maryland crab cakes go well with a lightly oaked Chardonnay, or a light white wine like Sauvignon Blanc.
A southern-style crawfish or shrimp boil is going to have some heat, so you’ll want a slightly sweet white wine like an off-dry Riesling or Viognier, or a sparkling wine like Cava or Prosecco.
Fish & Chips
When it comes to fried fish – be it fish and chips, fried clam strips, or deep-fried soft shell crab, you’re going to want a dry sparkling wine. The bubbles cut right through the crispy breading or panko.
Grilled SalmonSalmon is strong enough to stand up to a light red wine like Pinot Noir or Beaujolais. Plus, fruity wines like these contrast nicely with the smoke from the grill.
Linguine & Clam Sauce
This light and garlicky summer pasta goes well with a light white wine like Pinot Grigio. For red clam sauce, go with a Chianti.
Mussels in a white wine sauce goes well with – you guessed it – a glass of white wine. You’ll want a light white wine like Pinot Grigio, Chablis, or Sauvignon Blanc – chilled to perfection, of course.