VineRoutes on Threads
Seafood and Wine
Food & Wine Learn

Wine and seafood – an easy pairing guide

July 11, 2023

Struggling to figure out what wine to open with your seafood dish? Although white wine does pair very well with fish, it’s a little more complicated than that. Not all white wines taste the same, and “fish” could mean anything from salmon to scallops.

It’s a good idea to consider the texture and flavour of the fish you’re eating when choosing a wine. However, if the sauce is the most prominent flavour on the plate, then use the sauce as your guide. Some types of fish are delicate, light, and flaky while others are practically steak. Therefore, the intensity of the wine should match the texture of the fish.

Read Also: A how-to guide for pairing wine and plant-based foods

So, while whites generally rule, reds, rosés and sparkling do have their place. The below wine types (and their pairing ideas) should help you navigate your way through your next seafood and wine pairing:

Sparkling Wine

Any reasonably dry sparkling wine is spot-on perfect for fried food. Most wines lose something when you pair them with tempura or a thick beer batter. Not so with sparkling wine, whose bubbles and crisp acids cut through the weight of fried food as if the wines were made for the dish. These wines also pair deliciously well with oysters, scallops and shrimp salad. Don’t like sparkling wine? Try a Portuguese vinho verde.

Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris

These are the aristocrats of white fish wines. Dry, austere and crisp, chenin blanc and pinot gris are the wines to reach for when serving lean, white fish cooked simply. Flounder, halibut, walleye, snapper, raw clams, or oysters all do well with these wines. Alternatively, you can use these wines to cut through the natural fat in some fish, such as striped bass, catfish, lobster, or mussels. Want to try something different for a change? Try an Italian vermentino or a Greek assyrtiko.

Chardonnay, Fumé Blanc, Viognier

This is the realm of the fuller whites. Chardonnay can be divisive and can get a bad rap these days, but it’s great with salmon, bass, crab, raw oysters and lobster. The theory here is to match a full-bodied wine with a full-bodied dish. If you have a broth-based soup, chardonnay works wonderfully. If you have a fish that’s a little oilier, such as mackerel, try viognier. To try something a bit different, search out albarino or verdelho from Spain and Portugal.

Pinot Noir, Gamay, Chianti

As far as red wines go, the key is to ensure it’s a lighter red. There are precious few instances where you’d want a big red with seafood, but light reds can pair quite well with salmon, tuna, marlin, swordfish, mackerel, bluefish, or other fatty, meaty, big-flavoured fish. Chianti with spaghetti and clam sauce or octopus stewed in tomato sauce, works wonderfully well. Pro tip: avoid combining reds with spicy seafood, as you are likely to get a nasty metallic taste.


Rosé wines are great when a dish’s sauce is heavier than what a white would call for, but not quite right for a full-on red. Rosés can substitute for full-bodied whites such as chardonnay and fumé blanc. Consider them when grilling tuna steaks. Rosé also is a good choice with a tomato-based seafood soup, such as cioppino or zuppa da pesce.


Exclusive content via Email

You have Successfully Subscribed!