Wine 101: Pairing Red Wine with Fish

The secrets to success.


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Red wine lovers should feel confident pairing red wine with fish. The secret of a successful pairing is to match the weight and texture of the wine to that of the fish. Consider salmon. A butter or olive oil poached filet will result in a very silky texture of fish while roasted salmon gives it a heartier texture that can stand up to a more assertive red wine. Another factor in pairing red wine with fish is the sauce. Even a very delicate white fish such as cod, if served with a spicy red sauce, can stand up to a bolder wine.

In general, look to lighter styles of wines, such as a crisp dry rosé wine from any variey (typically Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault in France) and the lighter styles of Pinot Noir to pair with more delicately cooked white fish, poached salmon, and seafood such as oysters, crab, lobster, and mussels—particularly when the seafood is served with cocktail sauce and mignonette. Grilled swordfish and tuna (sometimes called, in addition to chicken, the “cow of the sea”) can take on slightly bolder wines, proportionate to the level of char, sauce, and substantial accompaniments such as roasted potatoes or grilled root vegetables. Look for Cru Gamay from Beaujolais, and heavier, more complex Pinot Noir from Oregon and the Côte de Nuits.

Many red wines pair wonderfully with fish, and discovering them is part of the adventure.

Learn more about wine pairing and red wine basics in Wine 101 >>>

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