Shrimp is the most consumed seafood in the U.S., used in everything from soups, stews and salads to pastas, tacos, stir-fries, curries, ceviche and sushi. Given its ubiquity, it can be tough to know which type to buy. All shrimp are not created equal in terms of sustainability and ethics, so we recommend checking Seafood Watch before purchasing. Beyond that, unless you have access to live ones, buy frozen with no salt or preservatives added.
Most shrimp are flash-frozen when they’re caught, so “fresh” usually means thawed. If that’s all you can find, they should be firm and smell fresh. All this wise shopping will help you highlight their quintessentially shrimpy qualities in a variety of ways.
The subtle sweetness of shrimp no doubt accounts for its popularity in the seafood world. It also accounts for its versatility with sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavors. Provençal rosé is fruity and refreshing—with a pale-pink color that also matches the seafood in question—while its dryness lets shrimp’s intrinsic sweetness shine.
Shrimp should never be “fishy,” but instead bring to mind fresh seawater and the faintly mineral scent of seashells. Picpoul de Pinet and Muscadet are classic pairing options with shellfish for their inherent freshness and gentle saline notes, while the minerality of Chablis often recalls seashells.
The Japanese word puri puri refers to the perfect shrimp texture: firm and springy, with a “pop” as you bite into it. A soft or fleshy wine can overwhelm such succulence, so enhance the effect with a crisp wine that has some body, like a Riesling from Alsace (especially good with spicy shrimp dishes).
Shrimp are lean but hearty, more akin to fresh tuna or filet mignon than most of their shellfish brethren. This meaty quality is enhanced when grilled or deep-fried, or in dishes with butter, cream or mayonnaise. Pair shrimp dishes like these with Soave Classico, which is textural and rich yet refreshing.