How to Pair Wine with Seafood

by Cathy Pollak
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pike noble pigxWhen it comes to serving wine with seafood, we want the wine to marry with the delicate flavors of the fish. In other words, the wine or the fish should not upstage each other in any way. Remaining complementary is key.

Retaining a refreshing palate with wine acidity and working with the flavors from rich and buttery sauces accompanying fish can be challenging.

Most dry white wines will work but it's good to keep some things in mind. Paying attention to the flavors of shellfish or fish you are serving will help guide you in your choice of varietal wine.

Overall, lots of fish have the same basic, gentle taste. A fish like tilapia comes to mind. So with tilapia or any other similar white fish there are lots wines to fit the bill. Choosing wines aged in steel rather than oak, wines like unoaked Chardonnay, Albarino, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Gruner Veltliner will reward you with a nice acidity, cutting through the heavy, buttery sauces commonly served with these types of fish.

When it comes to lobster, crab and scallops, the sweetness pairs nicely with the flavor profile of an oaked Chardonnay.

With a meatier fish like tuna, swordfish or striped bass I always choose a spicier white such as Viognier.

Grilled Salmon....I love Pinot Noir or Merlot...yes they are red.

When it comes to choosing reds with fish it can be tricky, they are often too powerful. So what you need is a light-bodied red, low in tannins. A soft wine, for lack of a better word. A lovely Pinot Noir or Beaujolais are perfect.

Here are some of my favorite seafood dishes and the wines I love to serve with them:

Fried Calamari: Brut Champagne/Sparkling Wine
Ceviche: Sauvignon Blanc
Seafood Risotto: Champagne/Sparkling Wine
Oysters: Chablis or Champagne/Sparkling Wine
Mussels: Chardonnay
Shrimp Cocktail: Viognier or Sauvignon Blanc
Trout: Chardonnay
Dover Sole: Pinot Blanc, Dry Riesling or Sangiovese
Clam Chowder: Chardonnay
Cracked Crab: Chenin Blanc

Enjoy these pairings. 


Cathy owns a vineyard and winery in the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  She is a food writer for Davis Life Magazine and blogs daily about wine, food and everyday living.  She lives with her husband and two sons.  You can visit her at

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