Wine & Fish Pairings You Have to Try

Wine & Fish Pairings You Have to Try

For a nice dinner, nothing pairs better than wine and fish. Many people believe that your choices are limited to dry white wines and flaky white fish. And while those do make an excellent pairing, there are so many more combinations that go together perfectly!

It's time that we go beyond dry white wines and explore the best wine and fish pairings.

A cutting board with fish, oil, and wine

Related: How to Properly Drink Wine

Wine Pairings Based on the Type of Fish

For this guide, we'll characterize fish into four groups by flavor and texture.

Lean and Flaky Fish

Zesty, refreshing white wines pair perfectly with mild white fish like:

  • Sea bass
  • Black sea bass
  • Branzino
  • Perch
  • Flounder
  • Sole
  • Fluke
  • Porgy
  • Tilapia
  • Haddock
  • Pollock
  • Wild striped bass

Look for these wines to balance out the delicate fish flavor:

  • Champagne
  • Friulano
  • Greek whites
  • Albarino
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Unoaked Chardonnay
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Vinho Verde
  • Muscadet
  • Portuguese whites
  • Verdejo 

Medium-Texted Fish

These fish are still flaky but have a thicker, firmer texture. Medium-textured fish tend to hold up to richer ingredients, sauces, and wine. These fish include:

  • Trout
  • Catfish
  • Arctic char
  • Red snapper
  • Skate
  • Grouper
  • Code
  • Blackfish
  • Hake
  • Redfish
  • Haddock
  • Black cod
  • Halibut
  • Escobar
  • Chilean sea bass
  • Monkfish

For wine pairings, look for medium-bodied white wines and full-bodied white wines with high aromatics aged in oak, like:

  • White Rioja
  • Fiano
  • Vermentino
  • Pinot Gris
  • Moschofilero
  • Dry Riesling
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Semillon
  • Chenin Blanc

Meaty Fish

Fish that are firm and have a more steak-like texture, like:

  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Bluefish
  • Mahi-mahi
  • Monkfish
  • Swordfish
  • Shark
  • Mackerel 

Go great with rich white wines, rosés, and even a few red wines. The best wines to go with meaty fish include:

  • Vintage Champagne
  • Dry Rosé
  • Maranne
  • Grenache Blanc
  • Italian Chardonnay
  • Oaked Chardonnay
  • Roussanne
  • Falanghina

Strongly-Flavored Fish

These fish include ones with strong flavors that are generally very salty, like: 

  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Mackerel
  • Herring 

Dishes that feature these strong-flavored fish have a lot more intensity. And while we typically pair white wines with fish, some red wines go great with these meals! Winds to pair with strongly flavored fish include: 

  • Pinot Noir
  • Cava
  • Dry Rosé
  • Gamay
  • Grenache Blanc

A fish plate at a restaurant with the perfect wine pairing.

Examples of Excellent Wine & Fish Pairings

You can't go wrong with these wine and fish pairings — they are sure to impress your friends, family, and guests!

Fried Fish & Prosecco

While prosecco — a sweet Italian sparkling white wine — is typically paired with sweeter dishes like desserts, all of that sweet flavor can often overwhelm the palate. Pairing this bubbly wine with salty fish is a great idea. Standard fish dishes, like fish and chips — traditionally made with haddock or cod — make for a perfect addition that complements prosecco's sweet, crispy citrus flavored.

Related: How to Aerate Wine

Spicy Fish and Moscato

Moscato wine, which is sweet, fizzy, and low in alcohol, has many aromas like peach, caramel, jasmine, and vanilla. Similar to prosecco, Moscato is often offered as a dessert wine, but you can also serve it with the main course. Dishes like spicy fish tacos do a great job of balancing out the wine's sweet and mild flavor. The sharpness of the wine can also help keep the spice from getting overwhelming.

Oily Fish and American Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris is known as one of the best white wines to pair with a variety of fish dishes. Its fruity flavors and high acidity make it a great choice. We typically serve this wine chilled, as it's positioned on the dryer side of wines. The American version of Pinot Gris is less acidic than the ones grown in Italy or France. It's a crisp wine that complements oily fish. For example, a pan-seared mackerel does wonders in bringing out the fruity, citrusy flavors of the wine.

Mild White Fish and French Sauvignon Blanc

Coming from Bordeaux or the Loire Valley, French Sauvignon Blanc is one of the driest white wines. Its flavor ranges from a fresh herb taste to spicy lime. Like most white wines, we prefer to serve it chilled. It's best to pair it with a mild and flaky white fish, especially flounder, halibut, and tilapia.

Dense Fish and White Zinfandel

Traditionally a popular beginner wine, white Zinfandel is known for having a sweet taste and being easy to drink. Many wine lovers start here before moving on to more complex and sophisticated wines.

Originating from the US in the 70s, white Zinfandel was an attempt to create a red wine that could break into a market dominated by white wines. However, it came out as more of a sweet, pink wine, but Sutter Home decided to release it anyway — and it became a hit.

Pairing white Zinfandel with a dense, firm fish like tuna can subdue some of the sweetness of the wine. This fish can bring out some of the wine's hidden flavors, and you'll likely taste the blackberry and spicy oak found in white Zinfandel.

Related: How to Open Wine Bottles Like a Pro

Freshwater Fish and Pinot Noir

You've probably heard that you shouldn't drink red wine with fish — however, that's not always true. The high tannin content of many red wines can give fish a metal taste, but pairing the right red wine with the right fish can strengthen the taste from both.

Pinot Noir is that red wine. It's light-bodied, less robust than many red wines, and contains a lower amount of tannins, making it perfect to pair with lighter foods like seafood. You can pair it with almost anything.

Four fish pairings, best to go with freshwater fish like trout and salmon. The dish should also be on the heavier side and served with a cream or tomato-based sauce. For example, many pasta dishes that use fish pair really well with a glass of Pinot Noir. When you get the pairing right, you'll taste the complex flavors of the wine, including clove, vanilla, caramel, and licorice.

Friends clinking their wine glasses together.

Forgetting something? The perfect wine & fish pairing isn't complete without the right wine glasses! Shop our wine glass collection and find the perfect complement for your next dish!

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