Wine with Fish

The old adage white wine with fish, red wine with meat, has now largely been debunked, and it is generally accepted that some red wines do pair very well with fish, just as some white wines do go exceptionally well with meat. Only remember the tip about matching the weight of the food to that of the wine - the thing to remember here is: the more subtle and delicate the flavour of the fish, the lighter the accompanying wine needs to be. And if you are serving the fish in a sauce, consider the flavours of the key ingredients that are involved in the seasoning, herbs and spices.


You need white wines here that have high acidity as this will cut through and offset the oiliness of fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines. Sauvignon Blanc is a good match of course, but for something different, look to Italy and try a Gavi or Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, Portugal for a Vinho Verde, or France for a Picpoul de Pinet.

Chardonnay is a fantastic match for salmon, but this fish also loves light to medium bodied reds like a Beaujolais, or Pinot Noir – try one from Chile or the USA. Both can be lightly chilled.


Champagne has a natural affinity with smoked fish due to its backbone of acidity.

Perhaps one of the best matches of all, are dry, steely Rieslings, as their minerality balances the richness of the fish, and Sherry fans will appreciate a Fino Sherry.

However a weightier choice to accompany smoked fish is also a good idea. With smoked salmon Pinot Gris is a good example. This is the same grape as Pinot Grigio, which usually makes lighter easy drinking wines. However Pinot Gris, especially those from Alsace, produces richer more opulent wines that would complement the full, strong flavour of the fish. A heavier Chardonnay would also fit the bill here, as would a Semillon.


All meaty white fish like cod, hake and monkfish love Chardonnay, even when served as fishcakes. If you want to try something a little different, look to Italy again for a Soave.

Many fruity Rosés also go very well with full flavoured tuna, swordfish and red mullet, as do soft reds like Pinot Noir, Valpolicella, or Gamay, which is the Beaujolais grape. Again, all are lovely lightly chilled. If you want to serve a white wine, then try a fuller white, like an Australian Semillon, White Rhône blend or a White Rioja.

Now, not forgetting fish and chips. If you are serving this good old British favourite, you can try a gentle New World Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc to compliment the rich flavours. Dry Muscats can also score a hit here.


With delicate light bodied fish like turbot, seabass and lemon sole you don’t want anything too heavy to overwhelm the subtle texture and flavour of these luxury fishes. Try Chablis, or a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire - like Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé or Menetou-Salon. Or even a young Chenin Blanc, Vouvray or an Italian Frascati.

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