What You Need to Know to Properly Pair Wine with Fish

Not sure which wine to pour with the fish you’re serving? With so many wines to choose from and so many types of fish, proper pairings may seem daunting. But you needn’t be intimidated. With our resident chef’s three easy tips, you’ll be pouring like a pro in no time: 

  1. Weight, texture, and substance should be your guide. As a general rule of thumb, lighter, more delicate fish pair well with lighter, more delicate wines, while meatier fish tends to taste better with wines that are richer and more substantial. More specifically:
    • Lighter and flakier fish such as Sea Bass, Tilapia, Flounder and Sole go best with light and refreshing wines such as Italian Pinot Grigios, unoaked Chardonnays like Chablis, and Sparkling Wines such as Champagne, Prosecco, and Cava. 
    • Medium-textured fish such as Arctic Char, Striped Bass, Trout, Snapper, Halibut, and Cod are a bit firmer, with a denser texture, and go best with medium-bodied whites such as California and New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs, German Rieslings, South African Chenin Blancs, and Oregon Pinot Gris’. 
    • Meaty fish such as Tuna, Salmon, Swordfish, Mahi Mahi, and Monkfish pair best with richer and denser wines like White Burgundies (chef’s favorite!), Viognier, Vintage Champagnes, Grenache Blancs, and Dry Rose.
    • Last, but certainly not least, stronger-flavored fish such as Sardines, Mackerel, Anchovies, and Bluefish are best served with Champagne, Dry Lambrusco, Rose, Gamay and Pinot Noir.
  1. Sauces and seasonings also matter. When cooking with spicy sauces, or heavily-spiced seasonings, turn to sweeter wines like Rieslings and Gewurztraminer (difficult to say; easy to drink). Citrusy and acidic sauces and seasonings, on the other hand, pair well with acidic wines such as a Spanish Albariño or Lusco. Pair butter-based sauces with buttery wines like White Burgundy and other Chardonnarys. And, when in doubt, Sparkling Wines and Champagnes pair well with pretty much everything! Cheers! 
  2. Don’t be afraid of Reds and Roses. Some may say red wine overwhelms the delicate flavors of fish, but some may not have tried pairing a light- to medium-bodied wine with low or soft tannins, such as a Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault, or a lighter Pinot Noir with a stronger-flavored fish. Delicious. 

Try out our Chesapeake Style Rockfish Recipe and Tell us what you pair it with!