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The Science Behind Seafood and Wine Pairing: Exploring the Role of Iron in Creating Fishy Aftertaste


Pairing wine with seafood is an art that requires an understanding of the science behind it. In particular, the role of iron in creating a fishy aftertaste when paired with certain wines. Researchers in Japan conducted an experiment with seven experienced wine tasters who were offered 38 varieties of red and 26 types of white wine. Over four sessions, the volunteers tasted the samples, along with pieces of scallops, the seafood most likely to produce the fishy effect. Then the researchers chemically analyzed the wines for a possible link to the aftertaste. The culprit appears to be iron. Scallops dunked in wine with low iron content smelled normal, but pieces soaked in samples with high iron content reeked of decaying fish.

So, why does iron content matter when it comes to seafood and wine pairing? How much iron a wine contains depends on the amount of iron in the soil where the grapes were grown, as well as other factors such as how the grapes are harvested and vinified. Red wine tends to have a higher iron content than white, which is why it generally doesn’t work together with seafood.

Understanding the science behind seafood and wine pairing can help you make more informed decisions when selecting wines to pair with your favorite seafood dishes. To ensure a successful pairing, it’s important to consider not only the type of seafood but also the preparation method, sauces, and other ingredients used in the dish.

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