When it’s done well, there’s probably nothing quite like a good piece of fish, either done at home or when out at a quality restaurant. Seafood, so often, is associated with luxury and decadence, but rarely do restaurant goers know exactly which types of wine complement their food. White wine for fish? Red wine for fish? The best wine for seafood? We’ll run you through it.
White wine for fish?
Some received wisdom dictates that only white wine suits most fish but it is, of course, important to first of all define what types of fish and seafood go best with what, as there always tends to be a large variety of choices so we’ll look at some of the most popular and our favourites here at Masons.
Plaice and Pinot Grigio
For a flat fish with a sweet and mild flavour, Plaice is versatile and revered. Its versatility means that there aren’t many wines that couldn’t reasonably be placed alongside a well cooked fillet but there are, as always, those that stand above the rest.
We believe an ideal accompaniment for our Plaice cooked in beurre noisette would be a fine Pinot Grigio, The Pinot tends to be lighter in body than other whites made from other grapes such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio is typically a dry, light to medium body wine with medium acidity and often carries lime, lemon, pear and apple flavours.
Crisp and fruity, it’s an ideal accompaniment to a sweet and mild fish.
Salmon and Merlot
Often called the chicken of the fish world, salmon, whilst previously served as a rich dish with cream or butter, is now served in a multitude of settings which lends itself well to either full bodies whites such as Chardonnay, or a smooth red.
We serve our salmon in a stew, perfect for the coming winter months, and a good match for a fruity red such as Merlot. Red fruits, easy tannins and a soft finish, it depends where the Merlot was grown as to what type of taste to expect.
Grown in a variety of climates, cool climate Merlot will taste different to warm climate Merlot’s and vice versa. Cool climate Merlot’s tend to have a roasted, full-bodied and fleshy taste, and warmer climate Merlot’s can be described as generous and juicy.
We’d recommend a more earthy pairing with salmon, so something from France or Italy is ideal.
Generally speaking fish is most reliably paired with white wines, that’s because fish tends to be oily in nature and the tannins in red wine tend to react negatively on your palate leaving a metallic aftertaste.
Fish can generally be categorised into either, lean and flaky, such as sea bass, medium-textured fish such as trout, meaty fish such as tuna and swordfish or intensely flavoured fish such as sardines.
For lean and flaky fish seek out a light and zesty white wine to complement the texture and taste. For a medium-textured fish your best bet is a medium-bodied white ideally oak aged. If you’re cooking up a storm with a meaty fish then you’ll want a rich wine that can either take the form of a chardonnay or merlot-type red. For intense tasting fish then you’re going to need a full-bodied red, something like a Pinot Noir, to really intensify the flavours.
Fish should be a luxurious and rewarding dish, it deserves nothing but the best wine, as long as you’ve either cooked it right, or decided to eat somewhere that cooks it with love and attention.