Written by: Tim Edison

Updated: April 22, 2023

What Wines Go With Fish? 10 Amazing Pairings

cooked fish and white wine

There is a widespread idea that the best wine to pair with fish is a young and fresh white wine.

Although widespread in the past, this belief has lost its position and today many connoisseurs and sommeliers of the most renowned restaurants know that fish can be paired with dozens of young and vintage wines. But what wines go with fish, after all?

The current trend of food and wine pairing claims a perfect knowledge of each wine and how it can complement each dish.

To do this, you’ll need to know all the organoleptic properties of the beverage, its flavors and aftertaste to be able to match them with the desired food.

What comes out is that fish pairs wonderfully with rosé wines, bubbly whites, and an impressive selection of reds, besides the traditional white choices.

So, check out these 10 amazing pairings I propose and get ready to surprise all your guests with a traditional or an unusual combination.

#1 Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is no doubt a classic choice to make if you want to play safe at the next gathering or family dinner.

This exquisite wine is best served young and pairs wonderfully with low fat fish like sea bass or sea bream.

The light and fresh feel of the wine is delicate enough to complement, rather than cover, the delicacy of the fish.

As for the cooking method, you can choose to serve a delicate fish soup or a grilled or even steamed dish.

#2 Chardonnay

Another classic choice that can’t go wrong. A light, young, and not too aromatic Chardonnay is another great option for sea bass or sea bream. But any white fish dish can benefit from this combination.

The awesome thing about Chardonnay is its delicate flavor which enhances the natural juices of the fish.

Looking for a good chardonnay recommendation? Don't miss our recommended bottles under $20!

#3 Sparkling Wine

Perhaps the most versatile combination to try with a wide variety of fish and seafood based dishes is a sparkling wine.

The idea is to find a wine slightly sparkling with a delicate fizz instead of evidenced bubbles. This type of wine enhances the delicate flavors of shrimp, lobsters, crab, and prawns but also works great with white and blue fish.

For a fattier fish, such as salmon, but also with mussels, clams, and oysters, a bubbly sparkling like Prosecco or Champagne could be your best bet. 

#4 Rosé Wine

Oriental fish dishes including sushi and sashimi are difficult to pair with wine. According to the Japanese belief, a dish has five fundamental components, which are sweetness, saltiness, bitterness, sourness, and umami.

This last component is specific to the Oriental dishes and is enhanced, when it comes to fish, by a complex beverage, such as a rosé wine.

Pairing well with a range of spicier or less spicy dishes, the rosé wine has the vivacity of a white and the complexity of a red, bringing the best of both worlds. And it is precisely this complexity that masters the flavors of the typical Japanese fish dishes.

#5 Pinot Gris

A white wine obtained from red grapes can only enhance a flavorful fish dish. Pinot Gris is one of the most complex whites, showcasing a structured body and unique aromas and flavors. The slight content of tannins also contributes to the character of this wine.

This wine pairs best with grilled or barbecued fish. Choose a white fish like sea bass or sea bream. The flavor of grilled seafood is also enhanced by this fine wine.

For instance, you can pair it with grilled octopus, king prawns, or grilled squid. Another related wine that pairs well with the above dishes is the delicious Pinot Blanc.

#6 Pinot Noir

Talking about Pinot, we can pass to a red. Yes, you got that right. Red wine and fish is not the most popular combination. Your less versed friends could even drop comments about your lack of knowledge, by choosing a red wine to serve with your fish.

And this is where you can step in and explain how a red can enhance the flavor of a fattier fish.

Pinot Noir, in fact, lends itself perfectly to be paired with fatty fish including salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout, herring, and sardines.

The intense flavor of the wine and the discreet alcoholic content make a great choice for grilled, steamed, and baked fish dishes.

#7 Vermentino

Going back to the white wine selection, another exquisite pairing is represented by the Vermentino, a splendid Italian wine produced mainly in Maremma region in Tuscany but also in Sardinia.

Thanks to the particular climatic conditions and terroir of both areas, the wine is characterized by a very intense flavor and persistent aftertaste. Its fruity aromas and defined sapidity guarantee a unique combination that will certainly surprise all your guests.

Pair this wine with a lean white fish or with clams.

#8 Frappato

From Tuscany to Sicily, Italy produces an impressive variety of wines that go with fish. A surprising one is Frappato, a Sicilian distilled wine produced in the province of Ragusa.

Obtained from black grapes and characterized by a unique nose and excellent flavors which are difficult to forget, this wine pairs wonderfully with sushi and sashimi, but also with other raw fish dishes.

#9 Chianti Classic

Another red that has made it to this list is the Chianti Classic, a red wine which confirms that reds and fish are a more than the ideal combination.

This delicate red wine is soft in tannins and is perfect to pair with blue fish such as cod and sardines.

#10 Sangiovese

The last wine featured in this list is a red Sangiovese, the prince of Tuscany with a soul that, vinified with a view towards freshness and fruitiness, can complement dozens of fish dishes.

Sangiovese finds its best allies in the traditional Livorno-style cod dishes, but it also pairs perfectly with raw sardines and with fattier fish. Pair it with grilled or baked salmon, with red tuna, or with kippers.

A non-vintage Sangiovese, furthermore, also enhances the delicate flavor of fish soup or risotto with seafood.

There are many combinations to consider, from classic to bolder. What’s sure is that now you know what wines go with fish so you can surprise your friends and family. Bon appetite!


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About the Author Tim Edison

Tim started Wine Turtle way back in 2015.
These days he contributes to Wine Turtle (and other renowned wine publications) while continuing his wine education.
Tim's wine of the month is the Coates & Seely Reserve Brut NV (from Hampshire, England).

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