Is Wine and Food Pairing Really a Science?
Last year a scientific study identified the chemical interactions that happen inside your mouth after each bite of food and sip of beverage. The tests demonstrated how certain pairings actually improve the lingering taste of food in your mouth. Some foods were even better with wine than with water. Want to learn the secrets?
Learn what wines pair best with the four different groups of fin fish. From flaky tilapia to steak-like swordfish, there are a range of potential wine pairings. Beyond just the choice of fish, the sauce and fish preparation affects what tastes best when pairing wine with fish.
Wine with Fish Guide
4 Different Types of Fish with Wine
Fin fish can be characterized into 4 major groups by texture and flavor. As a general rule white wine pairs well with most fish, but certain white wines go better with certain types of fish.
1. Lean and Flaky Fish
Mild flavored white fish with filets that are usually thin.
- Sea Bass, Branzino, Black Sea bass, Flounder, Perch, Porgy, Sole, Fluke, Tilapia, Wild Striped Bass, Pollock, Haddock
Wine with Flaky Fish
Look for zesty and refreshing whites to balance the delicate fish flavor.
- Grüner Veltliner
Pinot Grigio (Italy)
White wines from the South of France
- Vinho Verde (Portugal)
- Sauvignon Blanc (Loire, France)
Sauvignon Blanc (Washington)
Verdejo (Rueda, Spain)
Chardonnay (Chablis, France)
2. Medium Textured Fish
Still flaky but firmer and thicker.
- Trout, Arctic char, Catfish, Red snapper, Grouper, Skate, Cod, Hake, Black fish, Haddock, Redfish, Halibut, Black Cod (Sablefish), Monkfish, Chilean Seabass, Escobar
Wine with Medium Textured Fish
Look for medium bodied whites with high aromatics and rich full-bodied whites aged in oak.
Sauvignon Blanc (CA)
Sauvignon Blanc (NZ)
Dry Chenin Blanc
- Dry Riesling (Washington)
Pinot Gris (US)
Pinot Gris (Alsace)
3. Meaty Fish
Types of fish that are firm with a meaty and steak-like texture.
- Bluefish, Salmon, Mackerel, Mahi Mahi, Shark, Swordfish, Tuna, Monkfish
Wine with Meaty Fish
Rich white wines with lots of flavor and even a few red and rosé wines.
- Oaked Chardonnay
Sauvignon Vert (Italy)
- Vintage Champagne
- White Cotes du Rhone
White Pinot Noir
4. Strongly Flavored Fish
Strongly flavored fishes that are salty and taste like the sea.
- Anchovies, Sardines, Herring, Mackerel
Wine with Strongly Flavored Fish
Cremant de Bourgogne
Cremant de Limoux
Cremant de Bordeaux
- Dry Lambrusco Rosé
Greek Red Wines
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
Thai Curry, Indian Curry
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).
Get the Food and Wine Pairing Chart
A beautiful infographic poster about pairing wine with food.