how to pair wine with seafood

How to Pair Wine with Seafood

Pairing wine with fish or seafood can be daunting. Yes, white wines are generally the right choice—but which ones? From flaky tilapia to steak-like swordfish, there is a range of potential wine pairings. Beyond just the choice of fish, the sauce and fish preparation affects what tastes best when pairing wine with fish. Here are some quick rules when serving seafood.

According to the wine experts at, Fin fish can be characterized into four major groups by texture and flavor. As a general rule, white wine pairs well with most fish, but certain white wines go better with certain types of fish.

1. Lean and Flaky
Mild-flavored white fish with filets that are usually thin. Examples include sea bass, flounder, perch, porgy, sole, fluke, tilapia, wild striped bass, pollock, and haddock.
Look for zesty and refreshing whites to balance the delicate fish flavor:

  • Pinot Grigio
  • Champagne
  • Sauvignon Blanc (Washington)

2. Medium-Textured
Still flaky but firmer and thicker. Examples include trout, Arctic char, catfish, red snapper, grouper,
skate, cod, hake, blackfish, haddock, redfish, halibut, monkfish, and Chilean sea bass.
Look for medium bodied whites with high aromatics and rich full-bodied whites aged in oak:

  • Chardonnay
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Dry Chenin Blanc
  • Pinot Gris

3. Meaty
Firm with a meaty and steak-like texture. Examples include bluefish, salmon, mackerel, mahi mahi, shark, swordfish, tuna, and monkfish.
Rich white wines with lots of flavor, and even a few red and rosé wines:

  • Oaked Chardonnay
  • Sauvignon Vert
  • White Burgundy
  • Dry Rosé
  • Soave

4. Strongly Flavored
Strongly flavored fishes that are salty and taste like the sea. Examples include anchovies, sardines, herring, and mackerel.
Wine with strongly flavored fish:

  • Champagne
  • Dry Lambrusco Rosé
  • Dry Rosé
  • Pinot Noir
  • Cava
  • Dry Riesling