Red wine with fish

Choose a softer, fruitier red wine with less tannins and more acidity. (Photo: The Wine Buzz website)

Whoever came up with the “red wine with red meat, white wine with white meat” deserves a medal. It’s a fundamental guideline that no doubt increases the food-pairing pleasure of millions of people every day.

Beaujolais is a classic example but pinot noir can be a good fit.

Red wines gain much of their colour, flavour and tannins from the skin of the grape. That makes them typically more flavoursome, richer and more astringent than most white wines. Red meats are typically fattier, more flavoursome and richer than whites. Tannins cut through fat while fat helps smother tannins. Red wine and red meat are therefore a natural fit.

But it’s fun to break the rules.

Choose a softer, fruitier red wine with less tannins and more acidity. Beaujolais is a classic example but pinot noir can be a good fit. Northern Italian reds such as Valpolicella, Bardolino, Barbera d’Asti and Barbera d’Alba also qualify.

Now prepare a seafood dish that is less “fishy” and more “meaty”. Tuna, smoked kingfish, and smoked salmon are examples.

  • Add extra flavour to the fish by searing or grilling it or cooking it on the barbecue.
  • Serve it with a red wine sauce.
  • Consider wrapping the fish in pancetta or cooking it with chorizo to add extra flavour and further blur the distinction between seafood and red meat.

I recently enjoyed salmon steaks in chraimeh sauce with a glass or two of Surveyor Thomson 2014 Pinot Noir from Central Otago – a brilliant combination of taste and texture that will encourage you to continue breaking rules. You’ll find the recipe in the “must have” cookbook Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi.

2 thoughts on “Red wine with fish”

  1. Gillman Ken says:

    I would add that recent research indicates the old prohibition of red wine with seafood, which was supposed to be related to iodine, appears to be incorrect. This recent research indicates the definite mismatch, that sometimes occurs, is to do with the iron content of wine. I believe it is correct to state that few red wines nowadays have significant iron content, which in the past was introduced mainly by the equipment used in wineries. I would be interested if any experts reading this can comment on this question of iron in wine.
    So, that reinforces Bob’s suggestion of being more adventurous with low tannin high acidity reds, and that segues into ‘dark’ rosé wines too.

  2. Terence Ling says:

    There’s even a “Bourguignonne sauce for fish” recipe in the Larousse Gastronomique.

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