Pairing Wine With Fish: It’s Not All About White

Pairing wine and food is easy, right? Red wine with red meat and white with chicken and fish. While those often repeated ‘rules’ might hold true in most cases, there is a little more to it. 

There are many white wines that are perfect for fish and seafood dishes. For example, you can’t beat a crisp Muscadet and moules marinières, or a lemony Picpoul de Pinet and oysters. Even richer Chardonnays can work wonders when paired with hearty dishes like fish pie. But there are so many delicious red and rosé wines out there that make for surprisingly tasty pairings.

Fish with red wine

Generally speaking, lighter reds are a better match for fish than those that are full-bodied. Any tannins in the wine are going to clash with the acidity of the fish leaving a metallic aftertaste, so it’s best to go for wines that are naturally low in tannins, such as Pinot Noir or Gamay. 

Meatier fish, such as tuna or monkfish, often overwhelm light whites, so a red with a little bit of body leads to a much better balance. As with any dish, it is also the way the fish is cooked and the accompanying sauces that dictate which wine will work best. 


A simple seared tuna dish is a great match for a lighter red such as a Chinon (Loire Valley) or a simple Burgundy red. If you’re adding a bit of spice or chargrilling, you can even afford to be a little bolder with your wine choice. Something like a young Italian Barbera is low in tannin but has loads of dark cherry and plum character to stand up to the stronger flavors. 


Another textured fish, monkfish often suits a red, particularly if it has been cooked in a red wine sauce. If it is simply roasted, it goes really well with a French or German Pinot Noir which tends to have more refreshing acidity compared to New World examples. Monkfish, especially when cooked in red wine sauce, also works well with Merlot.

Fish with rosé

But let’s not forget rosé, afterall it is such a versatile and food-friendly wine, and that definitely includes fish. 


A bold rosé, such as Bandol or Tavel (Rhône Valley), is a great match for a seared salmon steak. 

For more delicate salmon dishes such as sashimi or ceviche, pair with a really crisp, elegant rosé, such as a Provence rosé. In fact, rosé wine is an ideal partner to most salmon dishes. This also applies to the sparkling rosé which goes well as the bubbles contrast nicely with the soft texture of the fish. 

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Fish with sparkling wine

Speaking of sparkling wine, we can’t overlook a bit of fizz as an accompaniment to fish dishes. 

Fish and chips

Everyone knows about fish and chips and bubbles, right? The refreshing acidity of the wine works perfectly with the richness of the fried food and makes the fish and chips taste lighter. You can use any bubbly with high acidity, like English Sparkling Wine, a dry Prosecco or Champagne for a more refined experience. 


But sparkling wine works with so many other fish or seafood dishes. Another classic match is a bone dry fizz, such as a Brut Nature Champagne where the bubbles match brilliantly with the soft texture of oysters. 

So next time you’re looking for a wine to have with fish, you can be bold, explore some options and try something a little different! 

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