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Pairing wine and seafood
When pairing wine and seafood, the key is not only to consider what type of sea food but also the condiments. They can vary from the light and fresh vinaigrette to buttery and heavy sauces. There are some key elements that needs to be considered to succeed.
1. One should choose a fresh wine with a good acidity.
2. If you prefer red wine, it should be on the lighter side. Barbera or Pinot Noir are good choices here.
3. Full bodied whites with high alcohol often pairs nicely with fuller and more flavourful dishes.
4. When in doubt, choose bubbles. (Preferably brut style).
5. Always consider the Condiments when choosing a wine.
6. Try to avoid high amounts of residual sugar in the wine.
Shrimps has a rather neutral flavour compared to Crayfish and lobster. Sparkling wines are a good choice here, preferably a brut style made by the Champagne method. A simple cremant or Franciacorta will compliment instead of dominate. The minerality will also pair nicely with the fresh sea flavour in the shrimps. Another good tip here is dry aromatic and mineral driven Riesling from Alsace in France and also a Chablis from.
Crayfish is one step up on the flavour scale. The flavour is a little more intens and needs wines with more body and flavour intensity. A Vintage Blanc de Blanc Champagne is a good choice here because of the higher flavour intensity. Another good choice would be a Chablis, preferably a Premier Cru as these have a higher flavour intensity and hints of calcerous minerals in the finish and would pair nicely with the sea flavour of the Crayfish.
Lobster has a huge flavour intensity, both when grilled or boiled. Condiments like buttery sauces and mayonnaise makes it a very dominating meal. White wines aged in new oak compliments the the flavour with vanilla, toast and nutty flavours. All the fat from the butter also need a wine with a high alcohol to rinse out the fat from the palate. There are a lot of great oak aged whites in the world, the more classic would be Chardonnay from Burgundy or California. There are also many great examples from Italy, Australia and New Zealand.
Mussels are often steamed with white wine, some cream and shallot onions, served with some fresh parsley. Light and refreshing sea flavours with some green elements need wines who shares some of the flavours. Both Albarino wines from Rias Baixas in Spain and, Gruner Veltliner from Austria and Sauvignon Blanc wines from Sancerre in France and New Zealand will match perfectly here. All of them have some green elements in the flavours, pairing nicely with the parsley and also elements of minerality which goes well with the sea flavours in the mussels.
Fish soups are often fresh and creamy made of both mussels, cod, salmon and shrimps. Easy drinking and refreshing whites will work perfectly here. A fresh young Pinot Grigio from Italy or perhaps a mineral driven German Riesling. Bubbles are also never wrong here.
The meat of the turbot has a very firm structure, almost like a steak. It has a dry meat with small amounts of fat, meaning red wine from Pinot Noir or Barbara will work perfectly. If you prefer white wine a grilled turbot with a beurre blanc sauce pairs excellent with a Chardonnay stored in new oak. The nutty and vanilla flavours will compliment the buttery sauce.
Scallops can be prepared in hundreds of ways. They are very often fried in a pan for a few minutes on each side, just enough to create a burned crust, then served on a puree of peas or potatos. An easy drinking and refreshing Pinot Blanc or Chardonnay will work great here. Also a simple Cremant or a little more developed Franciacorta.
The salmon meat contains a lot of fish fat. This is not compatible with the tannins in red wine as it produces a dominating flavour of fish fat. Rose` wines works perfectly here, and also of course simple refreshing neutral white wines like Chardonnay.
Cod is similar to turbot, but the meat is rarely as firm. Dry refreshing whites like Chablis and Sancerre with a hint of minerality works great here. If you prefer red wine, A cool climate Pinot Noir or a simple Barbera from Piemonte will pair nicely.
Marius has worked in several parts of the wine business for the last 16 years. He is currently working as a Category Coordinator for wine and spirits in the Travel Retail business. He is also a part of a tasting panel for the financial newspaper in Norway and writes articles and lectures in his spare time.Marius has a huge passion and dedication for the wine and spirits industry. He is a certified Sommelier and is currently undertaking the WSET Diploma in wines and spirits education.