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A Beginner's Guide: Understanding the Different Types of Fish and Their Ideal Wine Pairings


Pairing wine with seafood can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Understanding the different types of fish and their ideal wine pairings is a great starting point. When crafting a menu, seafood often comes before meat, so it makes sense that’s where we start. As a first rule of thumb in food and wine pairing, we drink white wine with fish and red wine with meat. White wine has a higher and fresher acidity so it acts like a good squeeze of lemon and livens up the refreshing seafood.

There are many types of fish out there, but you don’t have to be a marine biologist to make a successful wine pairing with them. To make it easier, think of fish in 4 categories: white fish such as cod or halibut, pink fish like salmon and tuna, meaty fish such as monkfish, and shellfish like clams, mussels, and scallops. You could pair wine with the protein itself, but usually sauces, other ingredients in your dish, and even cooking preparations can all have an effect on the wine.

For white fish, lean and flaky fish will go well with lean, dry, and racy wines such as pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, or chenin blanc. Fish with lots of fresh green herbs will enjoy being paired with wines that have a similar herbaceous profile such as zesty versions of sauvignon blanc whether it’s from New Zealand or the Loire. For pink fish, go for aromatic white wines that can have a bit of residual sugar and sweetness such as gewürztraminer or riesling. Shellfish and fatty white fish, on the other hand, pair well with full-bodied white wines such as chardonnay or pinot gris.

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