(Very rough) guide to matching fish with wine

Published on 29th Jun 2023

 (Very rough) guide to matching fish with wine

What wine is best to pair with fish? In an effort to find a good drop with your evening meal you will often be confronted with snobby and, often, meaningless words such as ‘terroir’, ‘minerality’, ‘mouthfeel’, ‘volatile acidity’ and ‘quaffability.’

As a general rule, fish is nice with white wine. But some fish pair very well with rosés and lighter reds.

The most important thing is matching the strength of the wine with the fish. Also, although we’re giving suggestions below for wine based on the type of fish, you can also consider the strength of the sauce you’re using and the accompaniments when deciding how full bodied your wine should be.

There is a lot of overlap, with some wines working well with different types of fish and you can experiment to find what works best for you. This is only a rough guide and there are no wrongs and rights when it comes to pairing wine with fish. If you like it, it works!

Mild flavoured fish with thin fillets such as sea bass and lemon sole pair well with lighter white wines such as Italian Pinot grigio, Greek whites, Sauvignon blanc from France and French Chardonnay and Champagne.

Medium flavoured fish with thicker fillets and large flakes go well with aromatic and full bodied wines like New Zealand Sauvignon blanc, white Rioja, Sémillon and Pinot gris. Most fish fall under this category and include species like trout, ray, cod, hake, haddock, redfish, coley, ling and halibut.

Meatier fish like monkfish, salmon, swordfish and tuna like a meatier wine. They pair well with stronger tasting wines like oaked Chardonnay, dry Lambrusco, vintage Champagne, dry rosé, Italian Chardonnay and white Côtes du Rhône.

Very strongly flavoured fish like mackerel and sardines can be paired with Greek red wines, dry Riesling, cava and dry rosé. These wines, along with vintage Champagne also work well with smoked fish such as salmon and trout.

TIP: These suggestions also work well when you’re choosing a wine to make a wine sauce for your fish.

TIP: Some wines contain animal products so pescetarians may want to ask their supplier if it isn’t clearly labelled on the bottle who it is suitable for.

TIP: The best price range for a balance of quality and expense is between £6-£10.