Fish! Kitchen Borough MarketFish Borough Market
Sign outside Borough Market

The Art of Pairing Wine with Fish

Are you adept at wine pairing? Some people find it daunting, especially when trying to pair wine with fish dishes. While you may know that white wine is good with seafood, there is a little more nuance to it than that, as there is with any food and wine pairing. The choice of fish, preparation method, and seasonings used all come into play when you are considering the best wine for your seafood meal. Then, too, while red wine is generally not paired with fish, you can choose a low-tannin red wine that will be delicious. How do you know the ins and outs of fish and wine pairing? Fortunately, we at fish! are experts at wine pairing with fish, and we have all the information you need to make an excellent choice.

There are four major groups of fin fish, organised by texture and flavour. Lean and flaky fish include species like sea bass and tilapia, trout and arctic char are medium-textured fish, meaty fish include tuna and swordfish, and sardines, herrings, and similar fish are intensely flavoured.

Lean and flaky fish have a mild flavour and thin, flaky fishlets. Fish that you might find in fish tacos are lean and flaky, and this classification includes sea bass, branzino, black sea bass, flounder, perch, porgy, sole, fluke, wild striped bass, pollock, tilapia, and haddock. This kind of delicately flavoured fish needs the balance of a zesty, refreshing white wine like:

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

Medium-textured fish are flaky but have a firmer, thicker texture. This allows them to hold up beautifully with richer sauce and ingredients. These fish, include trout, monkfish, Chilean seabass, Escobar, black cod, grouper, catfish, arctic char, red snapper. skate, cod, blackfish, haddock, redfish, and halibut, can also work well with richer wines. Choose something aromatic and medium-bodied, or a rich full-bodied white aged in oak. Great options include:

  • Chardonnay California Sauvignon Blanc
  • New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
  • White Rioja
  • Sémillon
  • Dry Chenin Blanc (we recommend South African)
  • Fiano (Italy)
  • Moschofishlero (Greece)
  • Vermentino (Italy)
  • Dry Riesling (Washington)
  • Pinot Gris (Willamette Valley or Alsace)
  • Garganega (Soave)

Meaty fish, as you might guess, are firm, with a meaty texture. Think tuna, bluefish, salmon, mackerel, mahi mahi, shark, or swordfish. These pair well with rich, flavourful whites and even some low-tannin red and rosé wines.

  • Oaked Chardonnay Viognier
  • Vintage Champagne
  • White Burgundy
  • Dry Rosé
  • Italian Chardonnay
  • Marsanne
  • Roussanne
  • Grenache Blanc
  • Falanghina (Italy)

Strongly flavoured fish taste like the sea. Anchovies, sardines, herring, and mackerel pair well with bold-tasting wine, and they’re even good with red wine.

  • Champagne Crémant
  • Dry Lambrusco Rosé
  • Dry Rosé
  • Pinot Noir
  • Gamay
  • Cava
  • Grenache Blanc

The way fish are prepared factors into the proper wine selection, too. For zesty sauces like Beurre Blanc, lemon, lime, or vinegar-based sauces, light, zesty wines that are more herbal and savoury go well. Try Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadet, Cortese di Gavi, Verdejo, Vinho Verde, White Bordeaux, or Grenache Blanc.

Sweet sauces like pineapple, mango, orange, teriyaki, and sweet and sour are better paired with wines a little sweeter than the sauce. You might pair a teriyaki sauce with Lambrusco, for example, or Meyer lemon glazed tilapia with Spätlese Riesling.

Spicy sauces like paprika, pepper, cumin, coriander, or chilli, match well with spice-driven wines like as Grüner Veltliner, Gewürztraminer, or Riesling. They can also work with a lighter red wine like Grenache.

For Thai or Indian curry sauces, look for sweet wines like Riesling, Moscato, Gewürztraminer and Prosecco, but for fish tacos, you’ll be better o” with Grüner Veltliner, Muscadet, or Champagne. Sauces made with green herbs like basil, parsley, mint, cilantro, dill, capers, and cucumber go well with wine with herbaceous notes, like Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis, Grenache Blanc, Torrontés and Trebbiano.

Having smoked salmon or trout? Reach for wine pairings that quench the dryness of these richly smoked fishes, like Garnacha rosé, Vintage Champagne, Rosé Sparkling Wines, Dry Riesling, Dry Furmint (Tokaji) and White Pinot Noir. For raw fish, most sparkling and bone-dry whites will go well, including Muscadet, Assyrtiko, Vinho Verde, Albariño, Dry Furmint (Tokaji) and Ugni Blanc (aka Trebbiano).

Established in 1999, fish! was the first restaurant in Borough Market and, indeed, the first restaurant of its kind in London.

With a focus on providing our customers with the best quality fish, cooked in front of them, in simple and classic ways, we are committed to quality and responsible sourcing. Because we are centrally located in Borough Market, London’s best produce is easily accessible. In fact, we source most of our produce from Borough Market, and our fish is delivered daily from our own fishmonger, Jarvis, renowned for its extensive range of the very freshest fish and seafood.

Our stunning glass and steel space was originally a Victorian pea-shelling warehouse, and diners enjoy 360-degree views of the market, Southwark Cathedral, and The Shard, as well as soaking in the atmosphere of our beautiful open kitchen.

For those looking for a retreat from the chaos of the market, our heated terrace is open all year round, and it is also available for private hire. To make an enquiry or request a reservation, call 020 3376 6234 or contact us through our website.

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram