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Wine and seafood pairings

Our wine and food pairings infographic gives the first steps to choosing a matching wine for your food. I would now like to look at more detailed considerations of wines to match foods by dealing with wine and seafood pairings.

Wine and seafood pairingsPairing wine with seafood.

As described in the what wine what food infographic, the first consideration is to balance the intensity of flavour of food with the intensity of wine.

Other considerations are level of acidity, degree of sharpness or smoothness of a wine, degree of dryness or sweetness. One might choose them either as complimentary or contrasting to one's food just as a painter will sometimes play with complimentary colours and other times with contrasting ones.

Before reading the rest of the article, you might like to have a look at this video where my friend Nicholas Collis and I consider wines that might go best with a dish of cod loin and scallops.

So in thinking about wine with seafood, we've established that seafood is fairly light in its intensity of flavour and that with it should be drunk a relatively light-bodied wine. Let us consider first of all raw oysters, mussels and other shellfish plus prawns.

Just as one generally squeezes lemon on oysters and shellfish in general to bring out their freshness and minerality, so is it deservingly popular to drink a Sauvignon Blanc with its citrusy flavours. Sancerre would be a typical choice from France or Bishops Leap (a winery in this case not an area)  from New Zealand.

Which wine with seafood?My own favourite with seafood is a young Assyrtiko from Santorini, an outstanding wine to which the world is gently waking up. The ever-so-slightly-petillant Chardonnay-Torrontes from Argentina is great for enhancing the fresh taste of Oysters as is a Champagne Brut or similar sparkling. The petillant Vinho Verdes from Portugal also make a good choice.Another good choice is a crisp ros? such as the Ros? de Bessan.

All the above work on the contrast principle, but complimentary also works and a nice soft, buttery,  Chardonnay such as Chablis can also work. Many Chardonnays don't in my opinion. The previously-mentioned Chardonnay-Torrontes also has Chardonnay but there the Torrontes gives it that crisp, citrusy zestiness that puts it more in the camp of the Sauvignon Blancs. Champagne is frequently also from Chardonnay, but in this case it's the bubbles that add zest.

When we move on to cooked seafood such as Moules Marini?res or lobster in sauce, you can more readily consider a Chardonnay or Viognier- even a light red such as chilled Beaujolais or light Pinot Noir from Alsace.

A lot is down to subjective taste and the above should give good guidelines for experimentation such as carried out in the video. If you are short of time and want to take a bottle to a dinner party the following are a pretty safe bet for seafood in general:

Bishops Leap Sauvignon Blanc ,
Rose de Bessan
Blanc de Blancs Cuv?e Prestige Bessan