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Culinary Arts: How to Pair Wines with Seafood

Updated on October 3, 2012

culinary arts

Welcome to online cooking school! In this version of my online cooking classes, we'll discuss pairing wines with seafood.

For many years, the hard and fast rule was to always pair fish and seafood with white wines. No doubt this is a pretty good rule of thumb, but today’s wine drinkers are a little more adventurous. Now, many wine aficionados choose a variety of whites, roses, and even a few reds to pair with their seafood dishes.

Seafood varies a lot in taste, from mild flounder to the bold taste of tuna. How the dish is prepared should also be taken into account. Is it grilled? Served in a cream sauce? A red sauce? With butter?

Below are some suggestions to get you started:

· Lean, mild-tasting fish like flounder, snapper, halibut, and grouper go well with Chenin Blanc or Pinot Grigio. If these fish are grilled, try Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Riesling.

· Fried seafood calls for a sparkling wine. Beer is also a great companion for batter-fried seafood.

· For seafood with the added flavor of lemons, acidic Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio will really bring out the flavors.

· The classic accompaniment for raw or steamed oysters is champagne. This taste combination is indescribable!

· Seafood prepared with Asian spices needs a Riesling or a Marsanne.

· For seafood cooked in a red sauce, choose Zinfandel, Rose, or Barbera.

· Riesling best brings out the creamy sauce of a seafood Alfredo dish.

· Marry a Newberg or thermidor entrée with Pinot Gris.

· Steamed crabs are wonderful served with a dry Riesling or Viognier.

· For stronger-tasting fish like tuna and swordfish steaks, you’ll need a wine bold enough to stand up to the main course. Choose Pinot Noir, Grenache, Beaujolais, or even a Merlot.

· For broiled or steamed lobster and steamed crab served with drawn butter, choose Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. The fruity flavor brings out the taste of the shellfish, and the wine’s crispness balances the creamy butter. The delicate yet rich taste of lobster is also well complemented by champagne. Most lobster and scallop dishes go well with a German Riesling like Spatlese, too.

· For a mild fish served in a cream sauce, try Chardonnay

· For that wonderful concoction know as paella, try Cava, Sauvignon Blanc, or Gewurztraminer.

· For seafood flavored with Cajun spices, like blackened redfish, White Zinfandels and Riesling make a nice balance. The hearty taste of jambalaya needs a hearty wine like an Italian Red. Try Pinot Noir with gumbo.

· Grilled salmon needs Pinot Noir or Pinot Gris to stand up to the rich flavor of the fish.

· Shrimp cocktail goes well with White Zinfandels or Riesling.

Mix and match until you find your favorite combinations. Be careful about pairing fatty fish and red wines with heavy tannins – you’re likely to wind up with a strong metallic taste. Otherwise, be your own guide into the world of wine. Everyone’s taste buds are a little different. With some experimentation, you’ll soon find your preferred partners!

Read more about culinary arts, online cooking classes, and my online cooking school below!

Learn to pair wines and seafood in my online cooking school and online cooking classes.
Learn to pair wines and seafood in my online cooking school and online cooking classes.

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