Pairing Wine with Fish: What to Choose

in Food & Drink

A cliché that says red wine with meat, white wine with fish, is at times inaccurate. Pairing wine with fish is a bit tricky. Every type of fish in your local fish market has a distinct flavor and texture, so does wine. There is a rainbow of wine offerings just as delectable and intricate to the palate.

While white dry wine and white fish make an excellent pairing, there are myriad ways to find the perfect combination to make eating a pleasurable experience. The key factor is the type and preparation of fish. The wine type should complement the flavor of the dish.

We’ve prepared a guide and took the initiative of pairing wine and fish as the centerpiece in your next meal.

White Flaky Fish

Light, flaky-textured, and mild fishy flavor white fish such as Cod, Tilapia, and Plaice can be grilled, baked or mixed with white vinegar, chili, lemon, and herbs.

The succulent white flesh of Cod becomes deliciously flakey when cooked. Tilapia has a mild flavor with hints of chicken. Plaice has a very soft texture and a bland taste, but is easy to digest.

Wine pairing

White wines full of fruits and citrus will add zest and crisp to the delicate fish flavor.

  • Grüner Veltliner
  • Pinot Grigio (Italy)
  • Champagne
  • Vinho Verde (Portugal)
  • Friulano (Italy)
  • Muscadet (Loire)
  • Greek Whites
  • Portuguese Whites
  • Albariño
  • Cava
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Verdejo
  • Unoaked Chardonnay (such as Chablis)

Textured White Fish

A flaky fish with firmer and thicker texture such as Monkfish, Sea bass, and Halibut. The medium-size texture allows it to hold richer sauces and ingredients.

The flesh of the Monkfish is meaty and firm with a superb flavor. Sea Bass has a mild sweet flavor, meaty, and firm consistency, those who are averse to seafood will swear by its heavenliness. The tastiness of Halibut makes up for its scary look.

Wine pairing

  • Chardonnay
  • California Sauvignon Blanc
  • New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
  • White Rioja
  • Sémillon
  • Dry Chenin Blanc (try South Afica!)
  • Fiano (Italy)
  • Moschofilero (Greece)
  • Vermentino (Italy)
  • Dry Riesling (Washington)
  • Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley)
  • Pinot Gris (Alsace)
  • Garganega (Soave)

Meaty and Pink Fish

Most slightly pinkish fish turn white when cooked, but not Salmon and Trout. It can be paired with red or white wines depending on the preparation and ingredients or sauces.

Salmon is one of the world’s most loved fish and tastes meatier than fishy. Impress your guests with roasted trout; nut-like flavor, delicious, and tender, everything a good fish should be.

Wine pairing

  • Oaked Chardonnay
  • Viognier
  • Vintage Champagne
  • White Burgundy
  • Dry Rosé
  • Italian Chardonnay
  • Marsanne
  • Roussanne
  • Grenache Blanc
  • Falanghina (Italy)

Fish with Strong Flavors

Strongly flavored fish like Mackerel, Herrings, and Sardines have the ocean salt flavor. Its taste can stand on its own, while on the grill squeeze some lemon juice or sprinkle it with herbs to intensify the taste. Either white or red wines can pair with strongly flavored fish.

The strong flavor of mackerel is balanced with servings of acidic sauces. The dense and meaty flavor of sardines is strong and unique, and flakes when cooked. Herring is a small, oily fish that has a distinct flavor like sardines. Normally white wine is paired with fish, this is an exception, it is better with red wine.

Wine pairing

  • Champagne
  • Crémant
  • Dry Lambrusco Rosé
  • Dry Rosé
  • Pinot Noir
  • Gamay
  • Cava
  • Grenache Blanc

Wine Pairing with Shellfish

Wine and shellfish are inseparable. A plate of shellfish needs a glass of wine to wash it down. Given that the sweet taste and the pungency of wine balances the full-flavored shellfish. The taste of wine won’t get lost in any dipping or ingredients mixed with the shellfish.


Try pairing your lobster dipped in butter sauce with Burgundy wine. The wine has a unique flavor that will stand the freshness of butter and the sweetness and richness of lobster. A chilled Peregrine Pinot performs well with mustardy thermidor sauce. A Vintage champagne hit the spot perfectly with lobster served with mayonnaises and chips.


The zesty, lemony Laflor Sauvignon Blanc will do the job of a condiment for oysters without vinegar.

Tiger prawns

The sweetness and acidity of Riesling is a great accompaniment to Tiger prawns cooked with garlic butter.


A classic pairing with steamed clams is the highly acidic Sauvignon Blanc, if it’s cooked in creamy sauce try Burgundy.

Image Credits: Christos Giakkas

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