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best wine for fish

Jennifer Williams-Bulkeley

Jennifer Williams-Bulkeley

Jennifer is passionate about getting rare and beautiful, small production wines, into the UK market to be enjoyed.

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best wine for fish? selection of shiny fish on a wooden board

choosing the best wine for fish

From a beautifully grilled seabass to fish and chips, a stunning shellfish platter or an earthy smoked mackerel – the variety of fish you can get now is so vast. So what then to drink with these different dishes? They are all so unique that the best wine for fish depends on the species, how you are cooking it, what spices and flavourings you are using, and the sauce you are serving it with. 

This is why picking the best wine for fish can feel daunting. Should the wine be dry or fruity? Should you ever drink rosé or sparkling, and what about red wine with fish – is this ever ok? Read on to find out a few basic rules

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Best wine for lean, mild flakey fish

i.e. bass, bream, plaice, sole, tilapia

This sort of fish is delicate and mild and needs a wine that is light and refreshing. Try to steer clear of anything heavily oaked or particularly strong botanicals.

If you’re looking for inspiration you can’t beat this simply prepared recipe from the fish master himself Rick Stein. There’s definitely something to be said for letting the fish sing without doing too much to it. Accompanied of course by a fabulous wine that will complement it beautifully.

Best wine from Ally to serve with lean flakey fish:

Dunites Jespersen Ranch Chardonnay, San Luis Obispo

Sea bass with accompaniments and a cold glass of white wine

Best wine for medium textured fish

i.e. cod, halibut, haddock, trout, snapper, grouper, skate, hake

This sort of fish has bigger flakes, with a firmer, thicker texture. The fish are often served with sauces and of course in batter! With these fish you can start looking at your more medium bodied robust wines, rich and buttery with some oak.

Best wines from Ally that work well with medium textured fish:

Seabold Mission Ranch Grenache Blanc

Best wine for strongly flavoured fish

i.e. mackerel, anchovies, herrings and sardines

This fish carries the taste of the sea – you can practically hear the gulls! Choose something on the drier/ crisper side to balance all that flavour.

Or if you’re tucking into a Pizza Napoli try it with a light red – preferably slightly chilled.

Best wine from Ally to serve with strongly flavoured fish:

De Sante L’Atelier 

Best wine for meaty fish

 i.e. tuna, salmon, swordfish, monkfish

As the name suggests, this sort of fish is meaty and steak like in texture. This means it can actually stand up to rosés and some lighter reds. Meaty fish are often used in curries and spicy sauces where their more robust flavour and texture can complement this style of cooking.

This Sri Lankan-style monkfish curry by Jamie Oliver is a brilliant example of meaty fish being used in this way – definitely one to try.

Best wines from Ally to that work well with meaty fish:

Fine Disregard Mataro Pato Vineyards Costa County

Barbecued smoked fish on skewers

What wine goes with a shellfish platter?

Well first off it really does have to be white.

If serving shellfish platters where much of it is raw, steer clear of oaked wines. Raw shellfish tend to have an iodized taste which doesn’t go well with the aromas from an oaked wine. The best choice here is a very dry white wine with good ripe acidity that isn’t too tart.

If you are serving hot shellfish, such as lobster or crab or crayfish, especially if it has a lovely flavoursome sauce, opt for something a little more full bodies with plenty of structure.

Best wine from Ally to serve with shellfish:

Sandar and Hem Mindego Ridge Chardonnay

best wine for fish - shellfish. fresh oysters surrounding a glass of wine

Why is white wine better with fish?

Firstly if the red wine contains a certain amount of iron it can result in a fishy aftertaste when eating fish or seafood. Equally the tannins in red wine tend to work better with food that has a high fat content and fish tend to be lean – even the oily or firmer fish. 

Red wines can also have low acidity, so white wine is definitely better for bringing out the flavour of the fish (don’t forget that squirt of lemon).

However, this doesn’t have to be a hard and fast rule.

Wines by sauce and flavourings

Beurre Blanc and other vinegar based Sauces

Like with most things wine and food the key here is balance. Try a crisp, palette-cleansing acidic white and wines with more herbal and savoury characteristics which will cut through the richness of the butter.
Best wine from Ally to serve with a Beurre Blanc:

Peay Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

Best wines to serve with Teriyaki, yakitori and other sweeter sauces

This is where you might want to liberate those reds, which will really bring out the sweetness of the sauce and turn to silk on your tongue.
Best wine from Ally to serve with a sweet sauce:

Kiona Lemberger

Best wines to serve with Curry Sauces

Look for whites or rosés with a touch of sweetness or ripe fruit that will complement the spices.
Best wine from Ally to serve with a curry sauce:

Shypoke Rosé of Charbono

Best wines to serve with sushi, ceviche and other raw fish

best wine for fish - sushi. sushi and chopsticks with an elegant glass of white wine

Whilst some purists would not contemplate drinking anything other than Sake with Sushi, there are many other wines that will complement raw fish beautifully. It’s worth noting that there are many ways to prepare raw fish and many different flavourings but as a rule… high levels of tannin and fruit will generally completely overpower the delicate flavours of this method of preparation. Look instead for wines on the drier side or sparkling wines.

Best wine from Ally to serve with raw fish:

CEP Hopkins Ranch Sauvignon Blanc

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