Which wine to match with salmon, and is red wine and fish a total no-go? Our easy guide to matching wine with fish will have you swimming rather than sinking…
For most of us, matching wine and fish is easy as long as it’s a white fish and a bottle of sav. Beyond that – confusion and panic. Fear not. It turns out there are some simple rules to follow that make seafood meal matching simple.
Most experts advise matching a light fish with a fine-bodied wine (e.g. one that’s not too heavy such as a sauvignon blanc), and more meaty fish with a full-bodied wine such as an oaked chardonnay or a light red.
LIGHT FISH (terakihi, gurnard, whitebait)
Starting with the simplest pairing, with light fish you’ll want to choose classic refreshing whites that won’t overbalance the delicate flavours of the fish. We like the zestiness of a sauvignon blanc or a pinot grigio, but chardonnay can also work here if you’re serving a rich sauce with the fish.
Our pick: Squealing Pig Sauvignon Blanc has crisp citrus flavours and a lingering freshness in the mouth.
HEARTY FISH (salmon, tuna, monkfish)
As mentioned, the meatier the fish, the more full-bodied the wine you’ll want to choose, to stand up to its flavours. Something like an oaked chardonnay, pinot gris or rosé will work well with salmon or monkfish, and you can even take things up to a cabernet sauvignon with something like tuna or swordfish, especially if it’s accompanied by tomatoes or a meat like chorizo.
Our pick: Wolf Blass Yellow Label Cabernet Sauvignon has rich flavours of dark red fruits, green leaves and savoury spices.
STRONG FISH (sardines, anchovies)
Here you can start to make like the Mediterraneans by mixing things up with some nice red wine and fish pairings, such as a rosé or pinot noir. Your choice will depend on how you’re serving the fish (see below), but you’ll want something fairly robust to stand up to the fish’s full flavours, which are often accompanied by equally strong tastes of garlic, herbs and spices.
Our pick: Squealing Pig Pinot Noir Rosé is the best of both worlds, matching the herbal savoury quality of pinot noir grapes with the ripe fruit flavours traditionally found in a rosé.
ROASTED, GRILLED OR BARBECUED FISH
Here’s where things start to get really interesting. Preparing any fish in by roasting it whole, or grilling or barbecuing it will create rich, smoky flavours that can stand up to more robust wines like a merlot, but pinot noir works equally well here. Similarly, if you’re cooking even a lighter fish with a spicy sauce, mushrooms, lentils, a tomato stew or a red meat such as chorizo, you’ll be more than happy chucking a red wine alongside it.
Our pick: Wolf Blass Yellow Label Merlot, with flavours of herbs and dark fruits, and a hint of oak that will match nicely with chargrilled flavours and meaty fish.