Pairing Wine with Seafood
by Rob Endsley/
Prince of Wales Sportfishing

Pairing Wine with Seafood - Prince of Wales Sportfishing

Once your fish hits the dinner plate it’s good to know what type of wine is going to go best with your fresh seafood.  Whether cooking at home or ordering at a restaurant, these hints from a couple of the Northwest’s most knowledgeable wine experts will point you in the right direction the next time you’re enjoying a seafood dinner.

David Johnstone of the Vinopolis Wine Shop in Portland, Oregon usually selects a pinot gris with salmon. David says, “I look for a wine with a lot of body that doesn’t overpower the flavor of the fish.  That said, I tend to stay away from heavy
reds, as they can sometimes have a metallic flavor that overpowers the salmon.”

When it comes to halibut or whitefish he suggests a rich chardonnay or perhaps a pinot gris that accentuates the silky smooth flavor of white fish.  In addition, he suggests picking a white wine that has an oaked flavor, giving it a more complex taste that further enhances the smoothness of the fish.  Beringer Reserve Chardonnay is one white wine that is aged in oak, but there are many others.

In addition to complementing seafood, an inexpensive sauvignon blanc or pinot gris also makes an excellent base for cooking clams and mussels.  Add chopped fresh garlic, onions, sea salt, butter, and parsley to your wine base and you’ve got a succulent nectar for dipping bread and sipping after the clams have been devoured.

I also caught up with Tom Macarone who resides in the heart of wine country in Walla Walla, Washington, where he operates T. Macarones Restaurant and Wine Bar.  Tom looked to a specific wine from Walla Walla Vintners, the 2005 Sanjiovese as his top choice for salmon and especially smoked salmon.  “I like a drier and more crisp white than a sweet white wine to retain the flavor of the fish and keep the pallet cleansed.  A white wine should complement the fish and not overpower it,” says Tom.

He specified the 2006 Waterbrook Sauvignon Blanc and the 2006 DaMa Chardonnay as his top choices for halibut and other white fish.  Growing up in Walla Walla, Tom has seen its recent transformation from a sleepy farm town into a regional mecca for wine enthusiasts.  Stop by his restaurant and enjoy the areas finest selection of regionally produced wines.

Below is a helpful table of ingredients and the corresponding wine that goes with them.

Ingredients Wine
Asparagus, capsicum, chives, dill, fennel, garden herbs, ginger, green salads, lemon grass or lemon zest, mint, parsley, radishes, raw tomato, spinach, Sauvignon Blanc or Semillon
Cajun, orange or lime, honey, spicey, sweetness Riesling
Avocado, butter, citrus, coconut milk, corn, cream, garlic, pecan, slivered almonds, sour cream or cream cheese Chardonnay
Fruit salsa, marsala, oyster sauce Pinot Gris
Cinnamon, Cajun, ginger, horseradish, sweetness, wasabi Gewürztraminer
Cooked tomato, molasses, mushrooms, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce Pinot Noir

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