How to: Match Wine with Seafood

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Vintage Cellars
February 16, 2017
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The best wine matches for things that swim.

At Easter time, many of us head towards the seafood section so it's important to remember that the fish and mollusks require their own selection of tasty beverages to pair with. From uncooked to unwooded, and most things in between, here is a guide with the building blocks for delicious yet simple seafood and wine pairings.

In the buff

Seafood is delicious cooked, but it can be even better raw. Not only do you have more time to choose the right bottle of wine, but you’ll be saving energy by not having to turn on the oven.

Oysters Natural couldn’t be simpler, assuming you know how to shuck them of course! If not, your local fishmonger will happily oblige for a small fee. These briny little mollusks are the essence of the ocean, defined by their saltiness and distinct flavour. The perfect match will be a wine with acidity. We recommend a drop like William Fevre Petit Chablis, or a dry Riesling like Pikes Traditional to get you started.

If you have sharp knife and some fresh fish why not try your hand at making your own sashimi plate. Raw fish is incredibly subtle, with the strongest elements being the soy ginger and wasabi that you add in to your own taste for a burst of flavour. With this in mind, choose a subtle wine to pair with your sashimi. If you’re looking to splurge a little, or if someone else is paying a rosé champagne like Mumm rosé NV and salmon sashimi is gorgeous, however a cheeky French white like Cave de Lugny Macon Villages made from Chardonnay will be just as delicious.

Fried and crunchy

The deep fryer and the deep sea, who would have thought it could be such a perfect match? When it comes to deep fried seafood, the key flavours here are salt and fat as the seafood essentially steams inside the golden casing. Again, as with oysters, the wine must have a certain level of acidity. What you are looking for is a wine that can cut through the batter and leave your mouth ready for another piece of fish. If you want to get really creative have some Fino sherry, if you want to please a gathering watching the waves crashing from the front seat of the car La Promesse Loire Sauvignon Blanc will fit the bill, even something fruitier like The Ned from Marlborough will make for a happy food companion.

Family style

A big bowl of pasta marinara will feed the whole family and there a lots of flavours going on in these dishes so we like a wine that caters to the masses. Pinot Grigio and Rosé is the key here. A big bowl of pasta plus a few bottles of chilled wine on the table will certainly lead to many happy bellies. These two wine styles work well with marinara as they don’t usually have strong wood flavours, they are not too high in acid, nor are they overly fruity. These are like the walls of an art gallery, mostly white with notes of interest along the way. Portone Pinot Grigio will please the palate and the wallet, whereas Rimauresq Provencale rosé, destined for the fruits of the sea, will take rosé to another level.

Pairing food and wine is a study of enjoyment not one of hardship, so don’t let hesitation get in the way of a good meal. Drink widely, drink in moderation and you may well find even greater partnerships out in the world. The fun is most certainly in finding out for yourself.