Guide to Pairing Wine with Fish

As a general rule: white wines pair best with fish.

Why not red wine? Red wines contain higher levels of tannin which interact with fish oils on your palate. In most cases this interaction can leave a metallic aftertaste in your mouth.

If you’re hoping to pair fish with red wine, opt for a low tannin red wine.

Pairing Based on Type of Fish

Fin fish can be characterized into 4 major groups by texture and flavor.

  1. Lean and Flaky Fish – sea bass, etc
  2. Medium-Textured Fish – trout, arctic char, etc
  3. Meaty Fish – tuna, swordfish, etc
  4. Intensely Flavored Fish – sardine, herring, etc

Lean and Flaky Fish

Mild flavored white fish with filets that are thin and flaky. If you’ve ever had fish tacos, you know exactly what we’re talking about!

Examples include sea bass, branzino, black sea bass, flounder, perch, porgy, sole, fluke, tilapia, wild striped bass, pollock, and haddock.

Wines with lean and flaky fish

Look for zesty and refreshing whites to balance the delicate fish flavor.

Grüner Veltliner Pinot Grigio (Italy)
Vinho Verde (Portugal)
Fruilano (Italy)
Muscadet (Loire)
Greek Whites
Portuguese Whites
Sauvignon Blanc
Unoaked Chardonnay (such as Chablis)

Medium-Textured Fish

This is still a flaky fish, but with an overall firmer and thicker texture. With a medium-texture, these fish tend to hold up to richer sauces and ingredients – and wine too!

Example include trout, arctic char, catfish, red snapper, grouper, skate, code, hake, black fish, haddock, redfish, halibut, black cod (sablefish), monkfish, chilean seabass, and escobar.

Wines with medium-textured fish

Look for medium bodied whites with high aromatics and rich full-bodied whites aged in oak.

Chardonnay California Sauvignon Blanc
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
White Rioja
Dry Chenin Blanc (try South Afica!)
Fiano (Italy)
Moschofilero (Greece)
Vermentino (Italy)
Dry Riesling (Washington)
Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley)
Pinot Gris (Alsace)

Meaty Fish

Types of fish that are firm with a meaty and steak-like texture.

Examples include tuna, bluefish, salmon, mackerel, mahi mahi, shark, monkfish and swordfish.

Wine with meaty fish

Rich white wines with lots of flavor and even a few red and rosé wines.

Oaked Chardonnay
Vintage Champagne
White Burgundy
Dry Rosé
Italian Chardonnay
Grenache Blanc
Falanghina (Italy)

Strongly Flavored Fish

Strongly flavored fishes that are salty and taste like the sea. Examples include anchovies, sardines, herring and mackerel.

Wine with strongly flavored fish

An interesting thing happens when you get into dishes with anchovies and other strongly flavored fish. The intensity gets a lot bolder. For example, a rich Italian-style pizza with salty-tangy anchovies. Normally, you might choose a white wine to pair with fish, but in this instance, it might be better with a red!

Champagne Crémant
Dry Lambrusco Rosé
Dry Rosé
Pinot Noir
Grenache Blanc

Want to Try Our Fresh Fish & Wine Options!? Come into Breakwater!

BREAKWATER at Stonington Harbor is a waterfront restaurant located on the Connecticut shoreline in the Stonington Borough. BREAKWATER features seafood & more, specialty cocktails, stunning sunsets & views of Stonington Harbor & Fishers Island Sound. We offer gorgeous all season sunsets & a roomy bar to keep you warm in the winter!

OPEN! 5 Days A Week

OPEN Wednesday – Sunday
CLOSED Monday & Tuesday

11:30 – 9:00 for full service dining & our full menu available for takeout!