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How to Pair Wine with Grilled Fish

How to Pair Wine with Grilled Fish

It's not as hard as you think

If chicken is the blank canvas of grilled foods, fish must be the linen. Delicate, easily ruined, and needing a good eye and a knack for detail to use it well, fish is already unforgiving on the stove, where you have some control over things, but once you get it on the grill, well, it just moves to another level of difficulty altogether.

Grilling fish tests all of your culinary skills. You’ll have to be able to cook by eye — and keep in mind carry-over cooking — to achieve perfect results, while also using a gentle hand with seasonings to create a balanced flavor palate. When you manage to pull all of these elements together, however, you will be justly rewarded. Adding the nuances of grilled and smoke flavors to your fish recipes adds depth of flavor that stovetop cooking just can’t duplicate.

In general, since most fish are rather delicately flavored, simpler is better with grilled fish recipes. Don’t bury the fish under a mountain of seasonings, and don’t give up on a recipe if it doesn’t come out perfectly the first time. Working on your technique, so that you are highlighting the flavor of perfectly cooked fish with each recipe, is only the first step to perfect summer seafood grilling. Here are a few recipes to get you started.

Click here to find grilling tips for fish, with wine pairings to go with each recipe.

— Gregory Dal Piaz, Snooth


Wine Basics

Fish can be cooked so many different ways these days that you may wonder what kind of wine you should pair with it.

So where do you start? The commonly accepted theory is that you should drink white wine with fish but of course there&rsquos more than one style of white wine.

In general a dry white wine suits the delicate flavour of simply cooked fish, Wines that come from coastal areas such as Muscadet, Picpoul de Pinet and albarino generally do the job admirably. So does sauvignon blanc though you may have a preference for a more classic style such as Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé rather than a more aromatic one if you&rsquore serving your fish simply.

If your fish is cooked in butter or in a creamy sauce that could steer you more in the direction of a smooth subtly oaked white like chardonnay while south-east Asian flavours like lime, coriander and chilli often benefit from an aromatic white with a touch of sweetness like riesling or pinot gris.

It&rsquos also a question of price and occasion, isn&rsquot it? If you&rsquore having a fish taco any nice crisp white wine will do whereas if you&rsquore treating yourself to a lobster or Dover sole it&rsquos worth splashing out on a more elegant white that will really show it off

Without over-complicating matters here&rsquos what to think about when you&rsquore matching wine and fish

How the fish is cooked . . .

Is it simply grilled or pan-fried?

It&rsquos all about the flavour of the fish. A fresh, unoaked dry white wine such as a picpoul or albarino will really work well with this - you should be aiming for a wine that tastes like a squeeze of lemon. For fine flat fish like brill, sole or plaice make that a Chablis or an English chardonnay

Is it deep fried? Like calamari or fish and chips?

Fizz every time for me - cava or crémant if the budget&rsquos a bit tight, English sparkling wine or champagne if you feel like splashing out. Sauvignon blancs are good too as is English Bacchus.

Is it cooked in a creamy sauce or in a fish pie?

Creamy sauces LOVE creamy wines like chardonnay and chenin blanc

Is it a soup or a stew?

For this you may be using a cheaper fish like gurnard, pollack or whiting so it&rsquos likely to be more about other flavours in the dish, often tomatoey. Back to dry whites like picpoul again though rosé can work well too

Are you cooking it on the barbecue?

That immediately adds a level of char that ramps up the flavour especially if you pair it with a salsa. Think zesty whites such as New Zealand sauvignon blanc or Rueda or even a chilled red.

. . . or not cooked

Raw fish preparations like ceviche and tartares are increasingly popular. With sushi or sashimi I&rsquod be going for a super-dry white again (Getting the picture? Crisp unoaked whites are a pretty safe bet!)

If we&rsquore simply talking cold rather than hot like a fish salad or seafood cocktail, dry riesling often works really well especially if there&rsquos a touch of spice involved. That&rsquos true of smoked fish like smoked trout too.

What type of fish - or shellfish - it is

So the WAY a fish is cooked is obviously going to make the biggest difference but some fish and shellfish have a particularly strong character that might influence your choice of wine

&lsquoMeaty&rsquo fish - like hake, turbot or monkfish need fuller bodied whites like oaked white rioja, white Côtes du Rhône, Cape white blends from South Africa or even a light red

&lsquoOily&rsquo fish - you know, the kind that&rsquos good for you! Like mackerel, sardines and sprats pair well with sharp lemony whites. (Try Greek assyrtiko!)

&lsquoPosh&rsquo shellfish like lobster and scallops also need a rich white like a good burgundy or other creamy chardonnay. With more delicate white crab meat I&rsquod go for a sauvignon blanc or a riesling. Brown crab meat again is much richer - think chardonnay or even champagne in the case of Nigella&rsquos crab mac&rsquon&rsquocheese. (You haven&rsquot made that? You SHOULD!)

Can you drink red wine with fish?

You absolutely can, as I&rsquove already indicated. With &lsquomeaty&rsquo fish like monkfish. With robust stews, especially those cooked with red wine or with beans, as the Spanish do with hake for example With fish that&rsquos blackened or on the barbecue. Better still if you chill your red lightly. Try it!

What country the dish comes from

Sometimes you should let the other flavours in the dish or the place it comes from be your guide. So if it&rsquos from a place that has a wine culture like France, Spain or Italy think to yourself what would the locals drink? Muscadet with moules frites for example or dry Italian whites like vermentino with spaghetti vongole.

if it&rsquos a curry or other spicy dish you need to pay more attention to the spicing than the type of fish. Austrian grüner veltliner is a good all-rounder as is, you may be surprised to learn, a fruity rosé (with Thai green curry at least). And a dry rosé is good with Moroccan chermoula spicing too.

So just as you&rsquore probably prepared to cook fish more adventurously than you used to don&rsquot be afraid to drink more adventurously too!

This post was sponsored by Fish for Thought who deliver super-fresh seafood nationwide in 100% recyclable boxes direct from Cornwall.

"We are constantly working with the Marine Conservation Society and the Wildlife Trust's Cornwall Good Seafood Guide to ensure we only sell species that can be genuinely sustainably caught. We ask to be judged on what we refuse to sell - particularly vulnerable species like tuna, ray, John Dory and swordfish, as much as for the sustainability and flavour of what we do sell. You can read more about us here."

If you would like to buy fish from them use the code WINESEAFOOD10 to get 10% off your order until end of June 2021, Mainland UK orders only, minimum order £35

Image by Natalia Klenova at shutterstock.com

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Salmon With Rosé Wine

While rosé wines tend to be a no-brainer for many salmon dishes, from grilled to smoked and poached to paté, the medley of red fruit, dry, mineral-driven character and typically acute acidity in rosé wines make for an exceptionally accommodating salmon pairing partner.

Rosés maintain a popular pairing position for their ability to mimic the strengths found in both red and white wine profiles. Taking the rosé wine theme and adding some serious bubbles in the form of a brut rosé Champagne or sparkling wine promises to amplify the elegance factor while the bright acidity cuts through the rich, oily layers of the fish allowing unique preparation styles, spices, and seasonings to shine through the palate structure. When it comes to smoked salmon and crème fraîche, poached salmon, or a salmon paté crostini, the subtle red fruit, yeasty aromas, and food-friendly acidity of a well-built brut rosé sparkling wine promises to come dressed to impress a wide variety of palate preferences.


As a general rule: white wines pair best with fish.

Why not red wine? Red wines contain higher levels of tannin which interact with fish oils on your palate. In most cases this interaction can leave a metallic aftertaste in your mouth.

If you’re hoping to pair fish with red wine, opt for a low tannin red wine.

Pairing Based on Type of Fish

Fin fish can be characterized into 4 major groups by texture and flavor.

Go From Beginner to Expert

Tools and accessories that help you expand your knowledge.

  1. Lean and Flaky Fish – sea bass, etc
  2. Medium-Textured Fish – trout, arctic char, etc
  3. Meaty Fish – tuna, swordfish, etc
  4. Intensely Flavored Fish – sardine, herring, etc

Lean and Flaky Fish

Mild flavored white fish with filets that are thin and flaky. If you’ve ever had fish tacos, you know exactly what we’re talking about!

Examples include sea bass, branzino, black sea bass, flounder, perch, porgy, sole, fluke, tilapia, wild striped bass, pollock, and haddock.

Wines with lean and flaky fish

Look for zesty and refreshing whites to balance the delicate fish flavor.

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

Medium-Textured Fish

This is still a flaky fish, but with an overall firmer and thicker texture. With a medium-texture, these fish tend to hold up to richer sauces and ingredients – and wine too!

Example include trout, arctic char, catfish, red snapper, grouper, skate, code, hake, black fish, haddock, redfish, halibut, black cod (sablefish), monkfish, chilean seabass, and escobar.

Wines with medium-textured fish

Look for medium bodied whites with high aromatics and rich full-bodied whites aged in oak.
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 Fish

Types of fish that are firm with a meaty and steak-like texture.

Examples include tuna, bluefish, salmon, mackerel, mahi mahi, shark, monkfish and swordfish.

Wine with meaty fish

Rich white wines with lots of flavor and even a few red and rosé wines.

Strongly Flavored Fish

Strongly flavored fishes that are salty and taste like the sea. Examples include anchovies, sardines, herring and mackerel.

Wine with strongly flavored fish

An interesting thing happens when you get into dishes with anchovies and other strongly flavored fish. The intensity gets a lot bolder. For example, a rich Italian-style pizza with salty-tangy anchovies. Normally, you might choose a white wine to pair with fish, but in this instance, it might be better with a red!

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

Fish Preparations & Sauces

Zesty Sauces with Wine

Beurre Blanc, Lemon, Lime, Vinegar-based Sauces

Try lighter zestier white wines and wines with more herbal and savory characteristics such as Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadet, Cortese di Gavi, Verdejo, Vinho Verde, White Bordeaux and Grenache Blanc.

Sweet Sauces with Wine

Pineapple, Mango, Orange, Teriyaki, Sweet and Sour

Look for wines with a touch more sweetness than the sauce. The darker the sauce, the darker your wine should be in the rosé spectrum. For instance, Teriyaki with Lambrusco or Meyer lemon glazed tilapia with Spätlese Riesling.

Spicy Sauces with Wine

Paprika, Pepper, Cumin, Coriander, Chili

Chili crusted fish are more about the fish’s texture bringing out the spices and seasonings. Spiced fish dishes match well with spice driven wines such as Grüner Veltliner, Gewürztraminer, Riesling and even a lighter red wine such as Grenache.

Curry Sauces with Wine

Curry sauces tend to be a little sweet and because of their spices look for sweet wines like Riesling, Moscato, Gewürztraminer and Prosecco.

Fish Tacos with Wine

Fish tacos go really well with Grüner Veltliner, Muscadet and Champagne.

Herb Sauces with Wine

Basil, Parsley, Mint, Cilantro, Dill, Capers, Cucumber

Wines with herbaceous notes taste richly floral when paired with green herbs. Check out Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis, Grenache Blanc, Torrontés and Trebbiano.

Smoked Salmon or Trout with Wine

Richly smoked fishes are a little drier and need wine pairings that quench them. Garnacha rosé, Vintage Champagne, Rosé Sparkling Wines, Dry Riesling, Dry Furmint (Tokaji) and White Pinot Noir will pair well.

Raw Fish with Wine

Try most sparkling wines and bone dry white wines like Muscadet, Assyrtiko, Vinho Verde, Albariño, Dry Furmint (Tokaji) and Ugni Blanc (aka Trebbiano).

Pair Wine and Food Everyday

Live the wine lifestyle. Use this chart to make amazing food and wine pairings.

The Best Wine Tools

From beginner to professional, the right wine tools make for the best drinking experience.

About Madeline Puckette

James Beard Award-winning author and Wine Communicator of the Year. I co-founded Wine Folly to help people learn about wine. @WineFolly


Hy-Vee Recipes and Ideas

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Discover the beers and wines that make grilling so great.

Peppercorn Rib Eye Steaks

Pair this juicy steak with an Aperican IPA or Malbec wine.

Mediterranean Vegetable Stack

These grill charred vegetables are a perfect match for German Schwartzbier beer or a French Pinot Noir wine.

Grilled Coffee-Marinated Pork Chops

This espresso-marinated coffee pairs well with a Black IPA beer or Zinfandel wine.

New York Strips with Steakhouse Toppers

Get the entire steakhouse experience including beer and wine pairings. Pair with an Amber Ale or Cabernet wine.

Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa

Minimize the heat by pairing with Oktoberfest, Dunkel, Bock, or an IPA. For wines, we suggest a Sauvignon Blanc or Rose.

Grilled Molasses Pork Ribs

Enjoy these sweet and sticky ribs with a bottle of American Amber beer or glass of Pinot Noir wine.

Grilled Scallop and Fruit Kabobs

Enjoy these sweet kabobs with a Pale Ale beer or glass of Rose wine.

Honey Sesame Seed Grilled Chicken

Bring out the sweetness of this chicken with a Light Lager, Belgium Witbier or American Wheat Ale. Or pair with Pouilly-Fume, Riesling, or Chardonnay wine.

Peppered Beef Kabobs with Blue Cheese Sauce

Pair with an IPA or accentuate the steak and sauce by pairing with a Merlot Wine.

Hyvee Culinary Expert Tip
Eric Dodge Hy-Vee Wine & Spirits Manager, Waterloo, IA, Certified Cicerone, Beer Steward

Chipotle-Orange Chicken and Vegetable Strips

This smokey sweet flavor pairs well with a Blonde Ale, Pale Ale, or American Pale Lager. Or Reisling, Chablis or Chardonnay wine.

Hot and Spicy Grilled Pork Chops

Tone down the heat by pairing this pork chop with a Belgain Saison wine or New Zeland Sauvignon Blanc wine.

Chili-Rubbed Salmon Fillets

Pair this flavorful chili-rubbed salmon with a wheat beer or Moscato wine.

Grilled Hawaiian Volcano Pizza

The sweetness of the pineapple and savoriness of the pork taste delicious with an American Pale Ale or Torrontes wine.

Grilled Romaine with Red Root Vegetables

The goat cheese in this salad pairs with an American Wheat beer or Sauvignon Blanc wine.

Grilled Salmon BLTs

This salmon and bacon sandwich pairs perfectly with a Lager or Pinot Noir wine.


F*** White Wine. Here’s How to Pair Red With Seafood.

The summer seafood season is nearly here, but that doesn&rsquot mean you have to swap out your reds for whites.

That&rsquos right, we&rsquore throwing the rulebook out the window, displaying absolutely no regard for polite company, and pairing our maritime bounty with red wines. And you can, too.

As long as you adhere to three simple pairing guidelines, you’ll be kicking back with a bottle of rosso in no time.

Mind the Sauce
When it comes to pairing fish with red wine, Hahn Estate chef Dyon Foster tells us: &ldquoYou should always consider acid first, and not in the Timothy Leary or Hunter S. Thompson sense, but more in the lemon juice, tomato sauce, capers and vinegar sense, as I would only condone use of the latter whilst working with knives or open flames.&rdquo A lively tomato-caper sauce goes great with the bright, mildly acidic cherry-driven flavors of a California Pinot Noir.

Texture Is Key
Second, consider texture. A heartier fish can stand up to a more assertive red wine. Any thick, grilled steak-cut fish &mdash like tuna or swordfish &mdash will pair well with a more structure red, like a Cab Franc or a Rhone blend.

Spice It Up
And third, consider spice. The more robust the spice, the more robust the wine. Foster says, &ldquoI make a spice rub that employs the dark forces of espresso and porcini mushrooms that, once spread across wild-caught salmon, can actually pair seamlessly with a Bordeaux blend.&rdquo In sum, add dark spice, drink dark wine.

With this new knowledge in mind, try your hand at one of the three seafood-and-red wine-paired recipes below &mdash and bid farewell to blanc.


Image via Marion Bernstein

Skewered shrimp with spicy chimichurri
Recommended red wine pairing: Lucienne Smith Vineyard Pinot Noir, $50

Shrimp:
2 wooden skewers
10 large shrimp, peeled and cleaned
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Chimuchurri:
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh scallions, chopped
¼ pickled banana peppers, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt, pepper and red pepper flake to taste

Soak wooden skewers in water for 10-15 minutes to prevent them from burning on the grill. While skewers are soaking, make the chimichurri by adding all ingredients in a medium bowl and mixing well. Refrigerate while you grill the shrimp. Peel and devein each shrimp, making sure to leave the tail on. Brush a grill pan or griddle pan with olive oil and bring to medium heat. Place each skewer on the pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill each side about 2-3 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and plump. Remove skewers from the pan, plate and generously spoon the relish over each skewer. (Optional: serve over a bed of rice or pasta.)

Image via Marion Bernstein

Chilean sea bass with olive caponata
Recommended red wine pairing: Hahn SLH Pinot Noir, $30

Sea bass:
1 Chilean sea bass filet, about 1 inch thick
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Caponata:
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small Spanish onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small eggplant, cut into small cubes
1 small can tomato paste
2-3 cups water
1 cup green olives, chopped
½ cup capers
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves for garnish

In a large skillet, heat ¼ cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced onion and garlic and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook about 3 minutes until onions begin to look translucent and mixture is fragrant. Add eggplant, tomato paste and water, and stir until well mixed. Continue to cook over medium heat 15-20 minutes until the eggplant softens. Add the olives, capers, red wine vinegar and sugar. As the caponata cooks for another 5-10 minutes, grease a separate grill pan with extra virgin olive oil and bring heat to medium. Season the sea bass with salt and pepper and place on the heated grill pan, skin side up. Cook on each side for about 3 minutes. Remove the sea bass from the grill pan, spoon caponata mixture over fish and garnish with freshly chopped parsley.


Image via Marion Bernstein

Crispy paprika-parmesan cod fillets with sautéed kale (recipe adapted from The Kitchn)
Recommended red wine pairing: Hahn GSM, $14

Cod:
2 thin cod fish fillets (flounder, tilapia or grouper will work well, too)
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 lemon wedges for garnish

Kale:
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bunch kale, washed and torn
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine Parmesan, paprika and cayenne in a small bowl and set aside. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat until it starts to gently bubble. Season cod with salt and pepper and place fillets in hot skillet. While the fillets are cooking, turn the oven to broil. After 3 minutes, carefully turn the fillets over using a spatula. Generously cover with Parmesan-paprika mixture. Place skillet under the broiler and continue cooking for about 3 minutes or until the fillets are golden brown. Transfer the fish to a warm plate and let rest. Return the skillet to the stove and add minced garlic to the remaining melted butter. Add the kale and season with salt, pepper and red chili flakes. Season with red wine vinegar and lemon juice, toss and cook until kale begins to soften, ever so slightly. Serve alongside cod fillets with lemon wedges and a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

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An Easy Way to Pair Wine and Food

MyRecipes and Snooth are taking the mystery out of food and wine pairing and making it easy to make great matches.

MyRecipes has partnered with Snooth, the world&aposs largest wine site, to offer a new wine pairing for every recipe on MyRecipes.com. You can now peruse the thousands of professionally-tested recipes on MyRecipes and get automatically-generated wine pairings based on each individual dish. There is also a new Browse Wines search function that highlights a featured pairing, popular searches, popular wine regions, and allows you to search for specific wines and even purchase featured bottles.

How the Pairing Widget Works
On each recipe page, the wine-pairing widget is located on the right side of the page about halfway down the page. For Tomato-Chicken Pasta, Snooth&aposs digital sommelier recommended "Fontaleoni Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2007" with the rationale, "This mineraly white offers nice acidity with a medium bodied feel, allowing it to partner perfectly with this meal."

The functionality was handbuilt using Snooth&aposs database of the world&aposs wines and the decades of accumulated wine knowledge among Snooth&aposs employees, particularly that of Gregory Dal Piaz, Snooth&aposs Community Manager. Snooth&aposs expertise in systematically analyzing and categorizing wine data was transferred to analyzing and categorizing recipe data in order to create the complex pairing algorithm. When not creating on-the-mark pairing for MyRecipes recipes, Del Piaz will be posting his favorite pairings on the MyRecipes blog, You&aposve Got to Taste This. "I love that the pairings feature interesting, affordable wines that go beyond chardonnay, merlot, and cabernet sauvignon", says Anne Cain, Senior Editor at MyRecipes."

Snooth Wine Rankings
While Dal Piaz has chosen the styles of wines, trying to make sure to offer a pair of more familiar choices plus a geeky choice for each recipe, the actual wines that get shown will change based on availability and how highly the wines are rated on Snooth. The Snooth rating system combines the input of professional tasters with that of their users to generate a unique Snoothrank for each wine. If a wine gets rated favorably, its Snoothrank goes up, increasing the likelihood that it will show up in the recipe pairing results.

Not only have they selected specific styles of wines that work with each dish, but Snooth is also filtering their huge database of wines to show the preferred wines within each category. In addition to the wine pairing widget on MyRecipes, the MyRecipes.com database of recipes is displayed on Snooth. Each of their wine detail pages lists three dishes to pair with each wine. No other wine site brings you the sort of in-depth, intelligent food and wine parings that Snooth does."

MyRecipes and Snooth are taking the mystery out of food and wine pairing and making it easy make great matches. It&aposs a great way to get ideas for your next meal and will make planning your next successful dinner party a breeze.

About Snooth
Since its inception in June 2007, Snooth has grown to be the world&aposs largest wine site, with over 500,000 users per month, 1 million wines and prices from 11,000 merchants and wineries worldwide. The site currently handles over 2 million searches per month and has over 125,000 registered users.


Squeeze the juice of one lemon into a bowl. Add half a glass of light extra-virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of brown sugar. Blend until the sauce has a thick consistency. Let rest for an hour before using.

Such a delicate taste. This sauce is prepared with six oranges, 100 g of butter, 4 tablespoons of sugar, a teaspoon of cornstarch, some white wine and a pinch of salt. Squeeze the oranges and strain the juice, then thinly peel them and boil the rind of half an orange for two minutes. Mince the other half. In a small saucepan, cook two tablespoons of white wine and the sugar (that must melt very well). Add the butter and the orange juice. Boil for 10 minutes. Then add the grated rind, salt and a teaspoon of cornstarch dissolved in cold water to help the sauce to thicken. Let rest for an hour before serving.


Pairing wine with fish: What to choose

Julie Sheppard July 18, 2020

Credit: Stella de Smit on Unsplash

Whether eating out or cooking at home, pescatarians are regularly spoiled for choice. Not only is there a wide diversity of species, but fish is a versatile ingredient that can be cooked in different ways – and even enjoyed raw.

This means that you’ll find an array of grapes and wine styles that will pair with fish. Tradition dictates that you should always match white wine with fish, but in some cases red wine can make an ideal pairing – as can rosé. It all depends on the type of fish you’re eating and how it’s prepared.

Both texture and flavour are key here. Fish can broadly be divided into four groups:

  • Lean and flaky mild fish – plaice, sole, perch
  • Medium-textured fish – trout, seabass, haddock, cod
  • Meaty fish – salmon, tuna, monkfish, swordfish
  • Strong-flavoured fish – herring, mackerel, sardines, anchovies

Within these groups there are some general guidelines. Delicate white fish fillets need a lighter white wine think Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris , Albariño or Grüner Veltiner . Meanwhile meatier fish like tuna can stand up to more robust flavours such as oaked Chardonnay , Viognier or rosé .

But how a fish is cooked – grilling, baking, frying or on the barbecue – will help to narrow down your wine choice. So too will the other ingredients in the dish. For example, fish served with a creamy sauce will need a wine with high acidity to cleanse the palate between bites. Spicy fish dishes call for a wine with some sweetness to balance the heat of the spices.

White, flaky fish fillets

Delicate and mild-flavoured fishes, such as plaice, sole and tilapia can be prepared quickly and easily by grilling or baking, and simply served with lemon and herbs. Italian whites are a natural match. As well as the ever-popular Pinot Grigio, look for grapes such as Vermentino, Fiano and Grillo, which makes fresh, lemony wines. Island whites from Sicily and Sardinia sometimes have a fresh salty tang that works well with simply grilled fish too.

Broadly speaking, whites from coastal wine regions are a safe bet with fish. Think Portuguese Vinho Verde, featuring the Alvarinho grape, or its Spanish cousin Albariño from Rías Baixas. Greek Assyrtiko, particularly from the island of Santorini is another great choice.

Wines like Assyrtiko, with high natural acidity, work well with delicate white fish in creamy sauces or cooked in butter. An unoaked Chardonnay, such as Chablis is a reliable choice, so too bone-dry Muscadet from the Loire Valley – which is also one of the classic matches for oysters and other seafood.

Speaking of classic matches, a good, subtly oaked white Burgundy makes a perfect partner with grilled lemon sole or Dover sole meuni è re (fried in butter with a dusting of flour).

Textured white fish

Ocean dwellers such as cod, halibut, haddock and sea bass can also be categorised as flaky white fish, but with bigger flakes and a more robust texture, they tend to be used in dishes with richer sauces, spices and strong-flavoured herbs.

This means you can opt for a more robust white wine, maybe with some oak or bottle age. Try styles such as aged White Rioja or Loire Valley Chenin Blanc.

Exotic, spicy Alsace whites made from Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Gris , possibly with a touch of residual sugar, will pair well with Asian-spiced textured white fish dishes. Similarly for spicy fish tacos choose an aromatic Austrian Grüner Veltliner or German Riesling – again with a touch of sweetness to temper the spice. While ceviche, the vibrant South American dish of raw fish marinated in citrus juices, will pair well with Argentinian Torrontés or Chilean Sauvignon Blanc.

Herbs such as dill, tarragon, parsley, chives, marjoram and lemongrass all work particularly well with fish. Herby fish dishes call for wines that complement those flavours with their own vibrant herbal notes. Sauvignon Blanc – either fresh, zesty versions from New Zealand or more restrained herbaceous styles from the Loire Valley – makes a reliable option.

If your cod or haddock is fried in batter – either a light Japanese tempura or the classic fish and chips – look for a fresh, dry white with high acidity to counter the fattiness. Again Alvarinho/Albariño or a crisp Sauvignon Blanc from Chile or New Zealand will work well. But the truly winning combination with fried fish is a dry fizz, as the combination of bubbles and high acidity effortlessly cut through the batter. A blanc de blancs Champagne ticks the box neatly for a decadent choice, but you’ll find blanc de blanc sparklers from all around the world at a variety of price points.

Meaty and pink fish

When you’re pairing wines with fish that has a more meaty texture – such as swordfish or monkfish – as well as pink-fleshed fishes like tuna and salmon, the range of styles to choose from increases, as rosés and lighter reds will often work better than whites.

For example a chilled New World Pinot Noir would match equally well with seared tuna or seared salmon. Dry rosés pair especially well with all kinds of salmon dishes – and you needn’t stick to still wines. Try sparkling rosé with smoked salmon the texture of the bubbles makes a brilliant contrast with the soft fattiness of the fish. A fruity rosé Champagne can even stand up to the chargrilled flavours of barbecued salmon.

As always, the golden rule is to think not only about the fish itself, but how it is cooked and what ingredients it’s served with. Grapes and styles including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Gris, manzanilla Sherry, Pinot Noir and English sparkling are among the many options for pairing with salmon depending on the dish.

Pairings with tuna dishes are similarly versatile. Juicy reds such as Beaujolais or Chinon, Austrian Zweigelt, Italy’s underrated Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Dolcetto or Valpolicella, will match grilled, seared and barbecued tuna. But tuna ceviche or carpaccio call for crisp citrus whites such as Picpoul de Pinet or cool-climate Chardonnay.

Raw tuna and salmon are of course, also popular ingredients in sushi , with matches including dry mineral whites, Koshu, Pinot Noir, Brunello and Burgundy, depending on the style.

Meaty fishes often feature in more robustly spiced Indian cuisine – with dishes such as tandoor-grilled monkfish – as well as Caribbean and Thai curries. Here the combination of spices and heat of the dish are as important as the texture and flavour of the fish, so focus on wine styles that work with spicy food.

Fish with strong flavours

Oily fish such as mackerel, herrings and sardines carry intense flavours of the sea and need a crisp, bracing wine to match. There are plenty of white (Portugal’s Vinho Verde), rosé (Provence ) and red (Gamay-based wines that can be served chilled for extra bite) options.

Strongly flavoured fish is often simply cooked – after all, it doesn’t need much help to enhance its taste – on the grill or barbecue and served just with a squeeze of lemon or herbs. Try barbecue sardines with minerally Albariño, citrus Picpoul de Pinet or Sauvignon Blanc.

Fresh tapas-style Mediterranean anchovies are a delight with Iberian whites: Alvarinho, Albariño, Verdejo, Txakoli and salty fino or manzanilla Sherry. Cured anchovies, often used as a pizza topping or with tomato-based pasta sauces like punchy puttanesca, call for a light, juicy red. Italy’s Bardolino and Valpolicella are a good call, as are Spanish reds made from the Mencía grape.


Serve your five-ingredient rotisserie chicken with some bubbly

If you can spend hours on end at Costco filling up your shopping cart with delicious treats, we totally get you. That's why we're serving up this five-ingredient copycat Costco rotisserie chicken recipe that's a tasty ode to the store (and it's delicious foods) we all can't seem to get enough of.

If you want to get creative with your chicken the next time you make it and attempt to recreate a taste that's pretty on point to Costco's rotisserie chicken, we have you covered. All you'll need is, of course, a chicken, in addition to kosher salt, garlic powder, paprika, and ground black pepper. And that's it! In three and a half hours, you'll have a juicy, tender, flavorful chicken to enjoy.

Be sure to have a bubbly and dry champagne or other sparkling wine (like prosecco) on hand to pop open and pour for this meal. It'll surely be the cherry on top of your dinner.