Elevate Your Dining: The Power of Wine and Seafood Pairing

what wine goes with seafood

Seafood, with its ocean-fresh flavors and delicate textures, is a culinary delight enjoyed around the world. Whether you're savoring succulent shrimp, flaky salmon, or buttery lobster, there's one question that often arises: What wine goes best with seafood? In this exploration, we'll dive into the fascinating world of seafood and wine pairings, addressing the age-old debate of red versus white and uncovering the perfect wine companions for your seafood feasts.

The Seafood and Wine Dilemma: Red or White?

red and white wine with seafood pairings

When it comes to pairing wine with seafood, you enter a world of nuanced flavors, textures, and culinary possibilities. The question of whether to choose red or white wine can be both intriguing and complex, hinging on the specific seafood dish you're enjoying and how it's prepared. Let's explore this delightful dilemma in greater detail:

  1. White Wine: The Classic Companion

    White wine, such as Graham + Fisk's white wine, is often considered the traditional and safe choice for seafood pairings. Its inherent characteristics make it an excellent match for many seafood dishes:

    • Crisp Acidity: White wines typically possess a refreshing acidity that complements the briny, fresh, or delicate nature of seafood. This acidity can cut through the richness of buttery or creamy seafood sauces, balancing flavors beautifully.

    • Lighter Body: White wines tend to be lighter in body compared to reds. This lighter weight allows the wine to enhance, rather than overpower, the subtle flavors of seafood.

    • Versatile Selection: There's a wide range of white wine varieties to choose from, each offering its unique flavor profile. Some popular choices include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Riesling. These wines provide diverse options for pairing with different types of seafood.

    When enjoying seafood dishes such as oysters on the half shell, grilled shrimp, steamed mussels, or a citrus-infused ceviche, a well-chilled white wine can amplify the freshness of the seafood and create a harmonious dining experience. However, the specific white wine you choose should align with the preparation and accompanying ingredients of your seafood dish. 

  2. Red Wine: Bold Experimentation

    While white wine remains the go-to choice, there are situations where red wine can form intriguing pairings with seafood. The key is selecting the right red wine variety and seafood dish:

    • Rich and Robust Fish: Fish varieties with more robust flavors, such as salmon, tuna, or swordfish, can better stand up to the boldness of red wines.

    • Hearty Sauces: Seafood dishes prepared with heartier sauces like teriyaki, barbecue, or tomato-based sauces can complement the fruitiness and depth of certain red wines.

    • Lighter Red Wines: Opt for lighter red wines like Pinot Noir or a light-bodied Merlot. These wines have softer tannins and less oak influence, ensuring they won't overwhelm the seafood's delicate flavors.

    When you're looking to pair red wine with seafood, consider dishes like grilled salmon with a smoky barbecue glaze or seared tuna with a soy-ginger marinade. These preparations can harmonize with the right red wine, creating a balance that elevates the dining experience. Try Graham + Fisk's red wine!

In essence, the choice between red and white wine for seafood pairing isn't a strict rule but a guideline. It depends on the specific seafood dish, its preparation, and your personal preferences. Whether you opt for the classic crispness of white wine or embark on a flavorful journey with red, the aim is to enhance and celebrate the flavors of your favorite seafood. So, the next time you enjoy a seafood feast, let your palate guide you in this delightful wine and seafood dilemma.

The Art of Seafood Platter Pairing

seafood platter with wine pairings

If you're indulging in a seafood platter brimming with an assortment of treasures from the sea, selecting the right wine becomes an art form. Here are some options to consider:

  1. Champagne or Sparkling Wine: Elegance and Versatility

    The effervescence of Champagne or sparkling wine can be a superb companion for a seafood platter. Its crispness and bubbles cleanse the palate between bites, allowing you to savor the various seafood delicacies. Whether you have shrimp cocktail, oysters, or lobster on your platter, a glass of bubbly can elevate the experience.

  2. Sauvignon Blanc: A Zesty All-Rounder

    Sauvignon Blanc, with its zesty acidity and citrusy notes, is a versatile choice for a seafood platter. It can complement a range of seafood, from the brininess of oysters to the richness of crab cakes. The wine's vibrant character ensures each bite is a harmonious blend of flavors.

Using Wine in Seafood Recipes

cooking seafood with wine

Wine isn't just for sipping alongside your seafood dish; it can also be a fantastic ingredient to enhance the flavors of your seafood recipes. Whether you're creating a delectable seafood stew, a flavorful marinade, or a rich sauce to drizzle over your catch of the day, wine can elevate your culinary creations. Here's how to use wine effectively in seafood recipes:

  1. Wine Selection: The first step in using wine in seafood recipes is selecting the right wine. Generally, white wine is the go-to choice due to its compatibility with most seafood flavors. A dry white wine like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, or Pinot Grigio works well. However, for richer seafood dishes, you might consider a splash of dry vermouth or a light-bodied red like Pinot Noir.

  2. Marinades: Create a flavorful marinade by combining white wine with complementary ingredients such as olive oil, fresh herbs, garlic, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Allow your seafood to marinate for at least 30 minutes before cooking. This imparts a delightful blend of flavors to your seafood.

  3. Deglazing: When pan-searing or sautéing seafood, deglazing the pan with wine adds depth to your dishes. After cooking the seafood, remove it from the pan and set it aside. Then, pour a splash of white wine into the hot pan, scraping up any flavorful bits from the bottom. Simmer the wine briefly until it reduces, creating a luscious sauce to drizzle over the seafood.

  4. Poaching: Poaching seafood in wine infuses it with delicate flavors. Create a poaching liquid by combining white wine, aromatics like onions, garlic, and herbs, and a touch of water or fish stock. Simmer the seafood gently in this aromatic bath until it's cooked through. The wine imparts a subtle, nuanced taste to the seafood.

  5. Sauces: Wine is a key ingredient in classic seafood sauces like beurre blanc and seafood bisque. These sauces typically start with a base of white wine, to which you add ingredients like shallots, cream, butter, and seasonings. The wine provides a crucial acidic balance to the richness of these sauces, creating a harmonious blend of flavors.

  6. Enhancing Seafood Soups and Stews: When crafting seafood soups or stews, wine can play a crucial role in the broth. A splash of white wine adds depth and complexity to the flavors. Simmering seafood in a wine-infused broth allows it to absorb the rich, savory notes of the wine.

  7. Steaming: Steam seafood with wine for a light and flavorful preparation. Create a steam bath by combining white wine, herbs, and aromatics in a covered pan or steaming basket. As the wine vaporizes, it imparts a gentle fragrance and subtle taste to the seafood.

Remember, when cooking with wine, use a wine that you would also enjoy drinking, as its flavors will be concentrated in your dish. Also, be mindful of alcohol content; the majority of alcohol typically evaporates during cooking, leaving behind the wine's essence.


Pairing wine with seafood is a delightful journey where flavors and textures converge in perfect harmony. Whether you opt for the classic choice of crisp white wine or decide to venture into the realm of reds, the key is to consider the specific seafood dish and its preparation. It's a world of endless possibilities, where the right wine can elevate your seafood dining experience to new heights.

Beyond pairing, don't forget the culinary adventure of using wine as an ingredient in your seafood recipes. From marinades to deglazing, sauces to poaching, wine can add layers of flavor and complexity to your seafood creations.
So, whether you're enjoying a light seafood salad on a summer afternoon or indulging in a decadent lobster bisque, let the art of wine and seafood pairing enrich your culinary experiences. Cheers to the endless flavors and pleasures that come from this dynamic union of wine and seafood!

Using wine in seafood recipes can transform your dishes into culinary masterpieces, adding depth and complexity to your seafood creations. So, don't hesitate to uncork a bottle and let the magic of wine enhance your next seafood culinary adventure.

Chanel Murphy

Chanel Murphy-Lowe is a tenured recipe developer, photographer, and food entrepreneur with a passion for all things culinary.

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