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Food & Wine Pairing - Seafood

Simple rules to get started pairing food and wine...

Wine and Seafood is a glorious combination...

Pairing Wine with Seafood

One of the things that makes seafood so exceptional is that it’s so versatile. Not only is there a wide range of species, but you can cook it in a variety of ways. You can grill it, bake it, poach it, even eat it raw. You can keep many dishes simple or sauce them with a buttery cream sauce or rich, zesty tomato sauce. 

‌The only thing that makes a perfectly prepared seafood dish better is pairing it with a glass of wine. When it comes to fish and shellfish, you typically only hear about white wine pairings. While whites may be the classic go-to wines, they’re not your only option. Plenty of red wines go well with a variety of seafood dishes, too. Here, we’ll provide you with some quick tips on how to pair wine with seafood, as well as some great combinations you should try for your next ocean-inspired meal.

Oysters with white wine is such a classic pairing – great as an appetizer or simply as a snack! Typically you would pair oysters with a very crisp, cold white wine with high acid. A Sauvignon Blanc, a Spanish Verdejo, or a Chardonnay from Chablis go very well with oysters, matching the tart, crisp profile of the lemon, or vinegar sauces generally served with raw oysters.

Think of white fish such as halibut or sole, or things like shrimp, lobster, and scallops. These can be prepared simply, just grilled or seared quickly and served with light seasoning or just lemon. White wines will also pair well with these options, as there are no heavy sauces or seasonings to overwhelm the delicate flavours. Choose something with slightly more body such as an oaked Chardonnay, perhaps a white Burgundy from the Côte de Beaune, an Albarino, a dry Chenin Blanc, or a white Bordeaux.

Curry is a common preparation for fish or seafood. It is also one of the trickiest dishes to pair because of curry’s very strong flavour profile. A curry requires a wine with some residual sugar, meaning not completely dry, which helps the wine stand up to the spice and heat of the dish.

A lower alcohol wine is also a better choice if the curry is spicy, as alcohol will only increase the heat of the dish. Trying pairings such as a demi-sec Vouvray, an Alsatian Pinot Gris, a German Auslese Riesling, or an Edelzwicker blend of Riesling, Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Gris, Muscat, and Pinot Blanc

Tempura’s exact flavour may vary depending on the type of oil used for frying the pieces, but these guidelines should allow you to choose a bottle that will pair with most styles of Tempura.

A white wine with spicy and grassy notes will pair well, such as a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, a Gruner Veltliner, or Sancerre. A lighter style Chardonnay, perhaps an unoaked wine from Australia could work, or try a light Rosé from Provence. Rosés with a tart, light, but still fruity profile will not be overwhelmed by the fried food and will play off the slight sweetness of firm-fleshed seafood.

These are fish with firm flesh and high-fat content, such as Tuna, Salmon, or Swordfish. Because these types of fish have a stronger flavour, they can stand up to more robust wines, even a light red. They have more in common with white meat than with white seafood.

If you wish to pair these with white wine, go for one that is rich and full-bodied – depending on the exact method of preparation, you could try a rich, white Grand Cru Burgundy, a full California or Australian Chardonnay, or a white Rhône wine such as a Condrieu or Châteauneuf-du-Pape. If you wish to pair with red wine, try a light-bodied Pinot Noir from California or New Zealand, a Chambolle-Musigny from Burgundy, or a light Cinsault/Carignan blend.

This can be a very complicated pairing, as you would normally be trying to pair with one or the other, but in these cases, your best bet is to pair with the sweet. This will also soften the sour aspect of the dish so that the wine and the food don’t clash. Try a rich, aromatic Viognier, an Italian Moscato, an off-dry Chenin Blanc, or perhaps a heavy Rosé.

Try a rosé made from Syrah, Grenache, Merlot, or other smooth, rich red grapes. If you can find one with just a hint of sweetness, you’ve found the perfect match. Don’t use a rosé that is too light or too acidic, as this will make the food taste bitter.

Pairing wine with Sushi can be a complex undertaking, since there are many different styles, and many types of seafood may be used. There are, however, a few guidelines that you can use to find an appropriate match. For raw fish, rely generally on crisp white wines.

Never try to pair full-bodied or tannic reds, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux Blends, Barolos, or Brunellos with Sushi, as these wines will completely overpower the delicacy of the dish. If you really want to use a red wine, one of my favourite pairings with Sushi is a red Sancerre. These unoaked Pinot Noirs from the Loire Valley have a light, floral profile and a smooth, silky texture, which won’t clash with sushi’s myriad of flavours.

Go from a humble seafood lover to a verified seafood connoisseur.

A Guide to Different Types of Seafood

Seafood is an incredibly versatile protein. There’s a variety of species that you can prepare in numerous different ways. Not only that, but you have many options when it comes to complementing your dishes with the perfect glass of wine.
The type of fish or shellfish and how you’re preparing it matters. Texture and flavours are essential considerations to keep in mind. Generally more delicate white fish need a lighter white wine like Pinot Gris or Grüner Veltliner. Meatier species do well with a more robust wine like oaked Chardonnay.
To help narrow down your options, consider how you’re cooking your seafood and the other flavours of the dish. Seafood prepared with a cream sauce needs an acidic wine to help cut through the fat and cleanse the palate. On the other hand, a spicy seafood meal needs a wine with sweetness to help balance the heat.
When it comes to pairing red wines specifically with seafood you still need to consider how you prepare the dish, the sauce you use – if any, and the accompanying flavours. Another thing to keep in mind is the wine’s tannins. You’ll want to avoid pairing tannins with acidity, which can otherwise lead to a metallic taste in the mouth. If you want to have red wine with your seafood dish, avoid meals that have a squeeze of lemon or lemon-based sauce, and choose a red with low tannins. 

For a beautifully light yet flavoursome seafood entrée, seared scallops served with Australian Sparkling is an easy to prepare and impressive starter. Light aromatic white wine including Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc, or Riesling also make ideal matches.

Wonderfully sweet and fresh prawns are national heroes to savour any season. Come summer, they’re on just about every restaurant menu and every family plate around the country.

Enjoy them fresh and unadorned with Sparkling, Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon / Sauvignon Blanc Blends, and Riesling. When combined with Asian flavours, alternative whites, Grüner Veltliner or Gewürztraminer are simply gorgeous.

Simple and light crab dishes need a white wine that’s light on the oak with crisp acidity, making medium-weight and textural white wines like MarsannePinot GrisVermentinoArneis and Fiano mouth-watering choices.

Mussels traditionally call for a white wine, however, the powerful flavours in this Mediterranean dish (particularly the sauce) mean you need a wine with more power. The silky texture and mix off fruit and savoury notes in Grenache Mataro would work brilliantly, while Shiraz Cabernet is another elegant choice to pair with the spice of this dish.

Fried fish dishes love the natural acidity of whites like Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Sémillon Sauvignon Blanc Blends, while weightier fish simply grilled can take the texture of medium-weight MarsannePinot GrisArneis and Fiano. Vermentino is also a textural variety that displays classic salty or sea spray characters, making it ideal with simply-prepared seafood.

When it comes to red wine and seafood, forget what you’ve heard or read about them not pairing. The richness of fish like Salmon make it great for red wine-lovers and the best matches are light to medium-weight and savoury reds like Grenache, GSM Blends, Nero d’Avola, Barbera, Pinot Noir and Merlot.
For those who don’t enjoy reds, Rosé is another delicious choice. These varieties also pair exceptionally well with rich fish stews, curries, tomato-based dishes like bouillabaisse, and oily fish like tuna and mackerel.

When you’re after an easy to prepare, but impressive and quite luxurious seafood dinner, BBQ’d Marron with garlic and herb butter is a fantastic choice. Marron is just so delicious and the rich barbequed flavours of the dish are complemented by fuller bodied and richer whites like ChardonnayRoussanneVerdelho or Viognier.

Seafood and Asian herbs, spices and flavours are a match made in heaven, but can sometimes be quite complex when pairing with wine. Light aromatic whites including Grüner Veltliner, Gewürztraminer, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Sémillon Sauvignon Blanc blends all drink beautifully with Thai and Vietnamese-style flavours. Depending on dominate flavours, Rosé can also work well.

When it comes to spicy seafood dishes like chilli mud crab, a popular choice is a cold beer, however, Sémillon and Riesling are natural white wine pairings. Another glorious, but not often considered match is Gewürztraminer – you’ll be very pleasantly surprised.

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