Wines to pair with fish
There’s plenty of fish in the sea, and there’s also plenty of wines that they like to be paired up with. So which matches are love at first sight? Here's our general guide to some happy couplings.
Raw, light, cured or fresh fish dishes - Light to mid-whites
If you’re eating sashimi, light sushi, smoked salmon/trout or ceviche, opt for a similarly light and bright wine. Ideally you don’t want to add any tannin or big, bold red or black fruits into the mix; those big waves risk sinking the good ship lunch or dinner. Refreshing citrus, green fruits, saline notes and acidity are your friends here, allowing light and fresh fish dishes to set sail on an ocean of flavour.
Meaty fish dishes - Full-whites/Rosé/Light reds
“Meaty” fish - you know the deal, those hefty mofos that bully other stuff in seas, rivers, lakes - wherever they can get away with it. We’re talking swordfish, barramundi, tuna, salmon, anything that gives a dense + firm fillet that you’d tend to pan-fry or roast. Whilst they’re a bit more robust than their light white cousins, they still prefer a lighter style of wine given they’re a lighter protein; bigger wines tend to have too much tannin for them to cope with. If you’re feeling red though, concentrate on light and juicy reds with lower tannins - plush rosés, delicate pinot noirs and ripe-fruited gamays are the catch of the day.
Grilled or BBQed fish - Full-whites/Rosé/Light reds
If you’re firing up the grill or the barbecue, a white that has a touch of smokiness through oak ageing (and a fuller body with it), will be a great complementary pairing to those smoky, grilled notes of the fish from the fire. Consider the other flavours in the mix too and opt for either a full white or a light red that you think has the potential to create the balance you’re looking for.
Deep-fried fish - Dry sparkling whites, rosé
Forget the bowtie, don’t call them goujons and potato wedges - they're fish and chips, and you don’t need to dress them up for a glass of sparkling alongside. That refreshingly crisp acidity is a great sparring partner for the batter, and the petillance (aka fizz) of a decent sparkling will take each mouthful to that next indulgent dimension. A combo to celebrate anytime you’re at the seaside.
As always, don’t try and sweat the pairing too much - do what works for you, and don’t be scared to experiment. The joy is always in the discovery.
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