seafood wine pairing

The National Health Service (NHS) recommends consuming seafood twice a week, citing its numerous health benefits. Indulging in a beautifully-seasoned fish fillet or a delicious plate of oysters with a glass of wine can be a fantastic dining experience. However, pairing seafood with the right wine can be a challenging task. To help you out, we have created a quick and easy seafood and wine pairing guide for your convenience.

Seafood Pairing House Rules

  1. While white wines are the best, lighter reds and sparkling wines can work well with certain dishes.
  2. The texture and weight of the fish determine the pairing – the more delicate the fish, the more elegant the wine should be.
  3. Pair the dish with the most important element (often the sauce).
  4. As you would with other meats, balance spicy with sweet, and salty with bubbles.
  5. A sweeter wine is needed for sweeter dishes.
  6. When choosing wine, consider the saltiness of saltwater fish compared to freshwater fish.

Different types of Seafood

White Fish

Fish is predominantly white meat, so it pairs well with white wines. White fish includes cod and haddock, halibut, sea bass, tilapia, and albacore.

White Fish House Rules

  1. Flakier, delicate white fish like sea bass and tilapia are more delicate and milder. These fish pair well with lighter, refreshing whites
  2. Haddock and halibut are thicker fish and can withstand more intense wine flavors. You should look for light-bodied, aromatic white wines

Pairings of Classic Wine

Sea Bass and Alsace Riesling
Pair sea bass with a Chinese-style dish like a stir fry with a white wine that is more aromatic. The Alsatian Riesling is perfect for this dish because it provides balance to the soy and spices.

Halibut and Sauvignon Blanc
Fresh halibut is delicate. Light sea flavors make it a great choice for halibut. This combination makes it an ideal match for a fresh and fragrant Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc. The wine’s lightness complements the meat well, and the grassy notes go well with the herbs.

Grilled Tilapia and Italian Pinot Grigio
Tilapia is delicate and requires a lighter pairing to avoid it being overpowering. Grilling is a great way to bring out the delicate flavors of fish, so make sure you choose a zesty, refreshing white. It will work well with Pinot Grigio from Italy.

Pink Fish

Many fish are slightly pinkish-colored, but they will turn white once cooked. Salmon and trout, which are real pink fish, remain pink after cooking. The meat’s color often indicates which wine is best paired with it. You can use white or red wine with pink fish. It’s also important to consider how it is prepared, as well as other ingredients and sauces.

Pink Fish House Rules

  1. The pairing of pink fish with other dishes is often dependent on the way it is prepared.
  2. Pairing pink fish, especially salmon, is fun and flexible. You can use whites, reds, or roses as well as sparkling.
  3. Because pink fish is very fattening, you should choose medium-bodied whites and light reds (possibly even medium reds if your dish is flavor-intensive).

Pairings of Classic Wine

Chardonnay and Trout in Lemon Butter Sauce
A lemon butter sauce is a great pairing for trout. A French unoaked chardonnay will be fruity and have nice acidity. This helps to cut through the buttery sauce that the trout is served with.

Beaujolais (Gamay) and Grilled Salmon
Beaujolais’ subtle tannins, lightness, and fruitiness make it an excellent pairing for grilled salmon. This helps to bring out the rich, savory flavors. To avoid salmon’s flavors being destroyed, it’s best to stick with lighter reds such as Beaujolais. Reds with more structure or body can feel like they are competing with the oils in the fish, which can lead to metallic tastes.

Meaty Fish

These fish will have a steak-like texture and be strong enough to go on the grill. Tuna steaks and monkfish are some of the meaty fish available. They will be slightly oilier and have higher fat content. These are some suggestions for pairing such fish.

Meaty Fish House Rules

  1. You can choose fuller-bodied wines because of the fattier and oilier nature of fish.
  2. Depending on the fish and how it is prepared, you can use either rich whites or light-medium reds.
  3. A sparkling wine like Cava can be a great way to balance salty dishes.

Pairings of Classic Wine

Pinot Noir and Tuna Steak
To see the colors of tuna steaks and Pinot Noir, you only need to look at them. A New World Pinot Noir is a great choice for tuna, which is a meaty fish. The wine’s fruitiness complements and enhances the flavors of tuna, especially when it is cooked with citrus or other spices.

Chardonnay and Swordfish
Swordfish is a meaty, rich-flavored fish that can withstand medium to full-bodied white wines. An Old World Chardonnay, from the Languedoc region, is a good choice. Chardonnay is a trusted pairing for meatier seafood. The wine will pair well with the steak-like swordfish, as it is rich and flavorful.


Shellfish, such as squid, oysters, crabs, clams, and shrimp, boasts rich and distinct flavors that pair beautifully with acidic white wines. To get started, there are some basic pairing rules to follow, along with some helpful examples of pairings.

Shellfish House Rules

  1. When pairing shellfish, it is important to take into account the type of shellfish, how it was cooked, and its tenderness.
  2. Many shellfish prefer light fruit flavors and acidity to counterbalance their sweetness. An acidic white is a good choice.
  3. It is best to stick to medium-full-bodied whites to avoid wine being overwhelmed by sauces and side dishes
  4. It is always best to pair food and wine that can withstand the intensity of the dish as well as complement its flavors.

Pairings of Classic Wine

Brut Champagne and Calamari (Squid)
Sparkling wines work well with deep-fried foods because of the citrus and bubble flavors. Sparkling wines also contain a little sweetness, which can be used to balance the saltiness of fried shrimp. Fizzing with your Calamari is a must-have!

Muscadet and Oysters
Muscadet, a light white wine, is from the western Loire Valley near Nantes, France. A crisp Muscadet from the Nantes coast is the ideal regional pairing for incredible meaty oysters. The wines’ acidity and citrusy flavor complement oysters well, with their saltiness. For best results, serve Muscadet slightly chilled.

Experience the Perfect Harmony of Seafood and Wine With Cap’s

Indulge in the ultimate seafood and wine pairing experience with Cap’s Steamer Bar & Grill in St Pete FL! Our expertly curated menu features the freshest seafood, perfectly complemented by a selection of exceptional wines from around the world.

Check Out Our Full Menu HERE!

Whether you prefer a crisp white or a bold red, our knowledgeable staff will guide you towards the perfect pairing to elevate your dining experience. 

Come and join us at Cap’s and discover the perfect harmony of pairing seafood and wine!