Although seemingly the unlikeliest of companions– fish and wine, can, in fact, go quite well together. That is, IF you do it right! Sticking to the old adage of having white wine with fish is never a bad choice, but you should feel free to mix it up a bit, too. Much like pairing wine with any dish, preference is key and it can be completely versatile. What one wine connoisseur prefers another might turn their nose up at. Now, back to finding the perfect vino for your delectable fish dish.
General Rules of Pairing Fish with Wine:
As the rule of thumb so clearly states, the safest bet is to pair red meats with a red, full-bodied wine, and white wines with lighter meat dishes, such as fish and chicken. However, as my mother always used to say – rules are absolutely made to be broken 😉 The thing is, everyone, and their palates, are different. Play around with it and don’t be afraid to try new things, you might discover something deliciously surprising.
As With Anything – There are Always Exceptions:
Not only is preference going to play a major role in your wine pairing, but also, the way the dish is prepared. As well, any particular flavors or textures will also need to be factored in. Creams and sauces can also change up the rules and in those cases, pairing the wine with the dominating flavor would be best.
While these pairings are great for accentuating different flavors, they are not set in stone. If you are not a fan of red wine, for instance, you’ll want to switch it to white. Flavor profiles are extremely diverse and interchangeable.
Merlot with Blackened Grouper:
Yep, we are crossing the line straight outta the gate. A fleshier Merlot would be the perfect accompaniment to a spicy, bold, and flavorful dish like blackened grouper, offering up an ideal balance and strong-tasting enough to give that fish a run (swim?) for his money.
Champagne with Fish and Chips:
Bubbly champagne works much better with fried foods than you might think. And, of course, it must be sipped from a lovely crystal flute – class up the popular meal, and the champagne’s high acidity is ideal to cut through the salty and fatty dish.
Riesling paired with a Cajun Seafood Dish:
Riesling, being a wine that is both sweet and fruity, makes a great companion to a particularly zesty dish. A pairing such as this is a great way to entice your taste buds while also being able to combat the overall spiciness of this specific seafood dish.
Sauvignon Blanc with Garlic Shrimp Pasta:
With both the garlic, which features predominantly in this dish, and the Sauvignon Blanc being strong-flavored and pungent, they tend to complement each other quite well. The wine enhances the flavors of the garlic and the shrimp without necessarily overpowering them.
Pinot Noir with Fried Calamari:
Much like the fried fish and champagne, the fruity, citrusy, and bright flavors of the Pinot Noir are perfect for standing up to the unique flavor profile and texture of the calamari. While you might be hesitant to use a bolder red, fatty fried foods can totally take it.
Malbec and Grilled Salmon:
Here is another instance where a full-bodied red wine works exceptionally well with a fish-centered meal. The key is to pair a heartier red wine with a fattier, meatier fish like Salmon. Pinot Gris is another lighter option that can amplify the flavors and set off the taste of this shrimp-based meal as well.
As stated early on, rules are made to be broken, so if you feel the need to have a glass of cabernet sauvignon with your tilapia, let no one change your mind. No matter your fish and wine pairing preferences, remember, your tastes are yours alone and everyones’ differ. That is the ultimate beauty of wine, the sheer and utter versatility of its many flavors and aromas. Try something new, you just might surprise yourself.