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The Guide To Pairing Red Wine With Seafood

black man holding fish

When it comes to pairing wine with seafood, the conventional wisdom often points us toward crisp whites or sparkling wines. However, for those willing to challenge the norms and embark on a culinary adventure, red wine can be a surprisingly delightful companion to your favourite fish dishes.

Join me while in this article, we discuss how to pair red wine with seafood, and our go-to red wines for fish pairings.

Texture is Key

Most of us start the wine pairing exploration by focusing on flavours, and while that is not wrong, there are cases where texture needs to be your jump-off point, and that is the case when trying to pair red wine with seafood.

Fish such as salmon, tuna, sea bass, and monkfish, for example, are more fleshy than sole or flounder, and as such the approach of what wine to pair with each will really differ.

For lighter seafood, use the following red wines served at 15 degrees Celsius:

  1. Cool climate Cabernet Franc

  2. Barbera

  3. Dolcetto

For more meat-dense seafood, use the three red wines listed above plus:

  1. Pinot Noir

  2. Gamay

  3. Cinsault

  4. Grenache

fish dish with pecan slices

What about seafood that's seen a grill?

Now you are speaking my language. Grilled seafood is a dream for pairing as the act of grilling takes your flavour profile up a notch.

Grilled seafood, with its smoky and slightly charred notes, can stand up to the bold character of a red wine. Next time you're firing up the grill for some salmon or tuna steaks, reach for a glass of Tempranillo or even warmer climate Pinot Noir.

What about Sushi?

With Sushi, you are in good hands with red wine. Here, look at thin-skinned grapes like Grenache from the south of France.

With these wines, you get ripeness due to longer hang time and climate, only medium tannins, and great acidity. For the best pairing result, chill this wine to 15 degrees Celsius. The ripeness will stand up to the wasabi and ginger you may garnish your sushi with, and the acidity will break down the rice that wraps your raw fish.

List of Red Wines that Pair Well with Seafood

Cool Climate Pinot Noir is a chameleon. It vibes well with many cuisines and can shine with a bit of a chill on it.

Gamay is a red wine, famed and primarily produced in Beaujolais, France. It is a light-bodied red wine with low tannin, high acidity, and medium alcohol.

Grenache is responsible for making some of the most sought after wines in the world, from Priorat all the way to Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Lucky for us, it's also used in affordable red blends from the south of France, in the Languedoc-Roussillon area.

One of the most captivating aspects of Barbera is its wide-ranging flavour profile, which can vary depending on where it's grown and how it's produced. However, some common characteristics make Barbera stand out, primarily its acidity.

Though the name Dolcetto means 'little sweet one,' that by no means is a reflection of what you find in your glass. Dolcetto is a medium+ bodied red wine that is almost always dry, luscious ripe, and tart fruit with medium tannins and acidity.

Cabernet Franc is a red grape and, as a single variety expression in the glass, is most famed from the Loire Valley, specifically Anjou-Saumur and Touraine. It is an aromatic, red berry, tomato, and herb kind of wine.

A bevy of ripe red fruit and thyme on the nose, and that concentration of fruit follows through to the palate. Tastes of ripe cherry and strawberry, red currant, cassis, cocoa, and fennel round out this excellent sipper.

While tradition may suggest that white wine is the go-to choice for seafood, the world of wine is as diverse as the ocean itself. Don't be afraid to break the rules and explore the rich tapestry of red wines that can beautifully complement the flavours of your favourite seafood dishes.

So, the next time you're indulging in a seafood feast, dare to be different and reach for that tantalizing red waiting in your wine rack. Your taste buds will thank you for the unexpected symphony of flavours.

Cheers to breaking free from the norm and embracing the extraordinary!


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