Nowadays, it is the most common and most natural to drink wine while you are having food. Different types of wine are used with different types of food and every wine gives a unique pleasure when coupled with the food that it is meant for.

The same thing happens with fish and wine, although wine can be used with every single category of fish, there are some limitations to it too. There is a rule that goes “white with fish, red with meat” specifying the white wine for fish and red wine for other foods like beef, mutton, and chicken. Red wine is usually not used with fish because red wine has a high concentration of tannins in it which can interact with the oils that are used to cook fish. As a result of this interaction, an unwanted metallic taste is left in your mouth.

There are some exceptions to this rule because there are some fish that can be used with red wine and they give the most amazing taste when coupled together such as Sicilian-style swordfish, smoked salmon, roasted salmon, tuna steaks and a few other fish.

How to pair fish and wine together?

There are more than one approaches to pair fish and wine together. In one approach, we can pair every fish with the wine that compliments it the most but this will take too long. While in another approach we can assign a group of wines to a group of fish that fall under the same category and this will take less time and will be easier to understand.

Based on their texture and flavor, fish can be categorized into 4 major categories which are given below:

  • Meaty fish
  • Medium textured fish
  • Lean and flaky fish
  • Intensely flavored fish

A number of different kinds of fish fall under each of the above category and a number of wines can be used to pair with each category. In addition to the category of fish, there are other factors that affect the selection of wine. These factors include the spice, the cooking method, and the additive substances.

Pairing wines with meaty fish

Meaty fish are the types of fish that are strong, have more meat than the other fish, are more firm and have a texture that resembles a steak. The fish that come under this category are swordfish, tuna fish, mahi-mahi, shark, salmon, bluefish, mackerel, monkfish and others. All of these fish are the most popular among other fish and different cooking methods are used to prepare them for eating. Salmon fish is cooked by roasting or smoking method, swordfish can be cooked into steaks and these cooking methods affect the selection of wines for them.

Wines that are most commonly used with the above fish are white burgundy, Chardonnay (oaked and Italian), Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Viognier and a few others.

Pairing wines with medium textured fish

Medium textured fish are less firm than meaty fish but more firm than flaky fish. Because they have a medium thick texture they can be cooked using different kinds of sauces and ingredients and they will give the best taste with these fish. The examples of fish that fall under this category are monkfish, halibut, haddock, seabass, redfish, black cod, red snapper, trout, and many others.

Due to their ability to hold up to all the sauces and ingredients, these fish can be paired with a lot of full and medium bodied to give the best taste. Wines that can be paired with this category of fish include New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Fiano, Pinot Gris, Garganega, Vermentino, Semillon, and many others.

Pairing wines with Lean and flaky fish

Lean and flaky fish is mostly white in color and have a flavor that is mild, so a nice wine is the best thing that can be coupled with it. This fish is more than meaty fish and medium texture fish, that’s why it is known as lean and flaky fish. The examples of fish that fall under this category are haddock, perch, porgy, sea bass, fluke, tilapia, flounder, and others.

The best wines to pair with these delicious fish are unoaked chardonnay, cava, Portuguese whites, Muscadet, Greek whites, champagne and others. All of these wines are white in their style and they provide an amazing taste with these fish.

Pairing wines with strongly flavored fish

As the name indicates, these fish are the true representatives of the sea because they carry a salty taste and a flavor like a sea. The fish that fall this category include mackerel, sardines, anchovies, and herring.

Because of their intensity, and salty taste and sea like flavor, it is best that you enjoy these kinds of fish with red wine instead of white wine because white wine might not be as fulfilling as the red wine in this case. The examples of wines that are often paired with this kind of fish Gamay, cava, dry rose, champagne, cremant, and others.