Wine Pairings with Fish


There are few better things on earth than perfectly paired meals, and when the right white wine meets the right fish, the result is culinary bliss. Understanding which wines to pair with which fish can be challenging at first, but once you establish a few guidelines, finding the right bottle is easy as pie. 

Why Is White Wine Best with Fish? 

White wine’s reputation for being the ideal seafood pairing is well-earned because it’s less tannic than red wine. Red wine is a risky choice because the tannins in the wine — that dry bite on your tongue when you take a sip — becomes metallic when paired with fish. White wine is less tannic, which makes for a great compliment with fish oils. 

Understand the Fish on Your Plate 

In order to learn how to pair fish with wine, it’s helpful to break fish down into five main categories: 

  • Light and flaky fish 
  • Medium-textured fish 
  • Meaty, steak-like fish 
  • Strongly flavored fish 
  • Shellfish and crustaceans  

Considering which category of fish you’re preparing helps you decide which wine to pair with your meal. Keep reading for a fish-by-fish breakdown and pairing suggestions from our wine experts. 

Light and Flaky Fish  

Light and flaky fish have white flesh, a mild flavor, and a dreamy melt-in-your-mouth consistency when cooked. This category of fish is also easy to eat and not overly fishy, making it ideal for groups with mixed palettes and those who are on the fence when it comes to seafood.  

Fish Examples 

  • Sea bass 
  • Aquaponics tilapia 
  • Pollock 
  • Perch  
  • Flounder 

Wine and Light Fish Pairing Suggestions 

Look for a light, refreshing white wine that won’t overwhelm the delicate flavor of the fish. A champagne like Korbel Extra Dry does the trick, and Famega Vinho Verde also pairs nicely with light and flaky fish. 

Medium-Textured Fish 

Medium-textured fish are sturdier than their light and flaky friends but are still fairly light and extremely delicious. These fish can stand up to more intensely flavored wines, as opposed to their lighter, flakier counterparts mentioned above. 

Fish Examples 

  • Trout 
  • Catfish 
  • Grouper 
  • Black cod  
  • Halibut  
  • Chilean seabass 

Wine and Medium-Textured Fish Pairing Suggestions 

A rich, buttery oaked chardonnay like the Dark Horse Chardonnay pairs well with these medium-textured fish. If you’re not one for oaked chardonnays, try a bottle of Bowers Harbor Pino Grigio from Traverse City, Michigan! 

Steak-Like Fish 

With a firm, meaty texture, these cuts are rich and satisfying. Alongside similarly bold white wines and even the exceptional red, these fish shine. Fish in this category are some of the most widely consumed, and there are plenty of fun and flavorful ways to prepare them. 

Fish Examples 

  • Salmon 
  • Mahi-mahi 
  • Swordfish 
  • Tuna 
  • Mackerel 

Wine and Steak-Like Fish Pairing Suggestions  

For a good balance between red and white wine, look for a rosé like Fleur de Mer Rose Cotes de Provence. Or consider a bottle of La Vieille Ferme Grenache Blanc. 

Strongly-Flavored Fish 

Strongly flavored fish have been inspiring feuds, war, and strong opinions about what does and does not constitute a pizza topping for millennia. They’re salty, intense, and full of distinct flavors and aromas — but fear not! There’s an ideal wine for even the most pungent seafood.  

Fish Examples 

  • Sardines 
  • Anchovies  
  • Herring 

Wine and Strongly-Flavored Fish Pairing Suggestions 

Wine and flavorful seafood pairing can be especially difficult, but we’ve got you covered. We recommend something with a little effervescence, like La Marca Sparkling Prosecco. Or, if you’re in the mood for a red wine, Meiomi Pinot Noir should do the trick. 


Pairing wine with crustaceans is fun because there’s not as much risk involved. Shrimp and lobster lack fishy oils, which means you can experiment without worrying about that metallic aftertaste when pairing with tannic red wines. 

Fish Examples 

  • Shrimp 
  • Lobster 
  • Crab 

Wine and Crustaceans Pairing Suggestions 

Grilled or fried shrimp goes well with a sauvignon blanc, like Starborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Lobster and crab are at their best alongside a chardonnay or pinot noir — Kendall-Jackson has bottles in both varietals. 

On Sale this Week: Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay and Pinot Noir 

The perfect pairing for numerous seafood choices, Kendall-Jackson Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are on sale in our stores this week. Stop by for a bottle (or two), and enjoy pairing with our freshly prepared seafood options. Cheers!