March 14, 2023

From Chardonnay To Pinot Noir: The Best Wines To Pair With Seafood

Tantalizing, fragrant seafood and a glass of carefully selected wine – what could be more perfect? Whether you’re hosting an intimate dinner for two or simply looking to unwind with some good food and drink, understanding the nuances of which wines pair best with seafood can take your culinary experience to the next level. From Chardonnay to Pinot Noir, there are so many options that it can feel overwhelming – but don’t worry! We’ve got everything you need to know right here.

Seafood has subtle flavors and delicate textures that require careful consideration when choosing a wine pairing. The acidity in certain types of white wine will enhance the sweetness found in shrimp, while reds like Pinot Noir provide a bolder flavor profile that nicely complements richer fish dishes such as salmon. But how do you decide which type is best for each meal? That’s where we come in!

With our expert knowledge and guidance on finding the ideal matches between seafood and different varieties of wine, you’ll soon have all the tools necessary to create unforgettable meals every time. So grab yourself a glass, sit back relax – it’s time to learn about ‘From Chardonnay to Pinot Noir: The Best Wines To Pair With Seafood’.

Types Of Seafood To Consider

When pairing your favorite seafood with the perfect wine, there are a few things to consider. First and foremost is what type of seafood you’re working with – whether it’s shrimp, crab, or fish. If you’re going for something light and delicate like shrimp, try a white wine like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. For richer flavors such as crab or lobster, opt for a full-bodied red like Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon. Both will complement the richness in flavor without overpowering it. Ultimately, choosing which wines pair best with each type of seafood comes down to personal preference and experimenting!

Characteristics Of White Wines

When it comes to pairing seafood with wine, white wines are often the preferred choice. With their vibrant and refreshing flavors, they provide a great accompaniment to many types of fish dishes. But with so many different varieties available, how do you know which one will be best? To help narrow your choices down, here’s an overview of some of the most common characteristics in white wines:

  • Body: White wines range from light and crisp to full-bodied. Light whites such as Pinot Grigio have a delicate floral aroma and flavor notes that can be described as citrusy or fruity. Fuller bodied whites like Chardonnay are richer in texture and typically have more earthy aromas.
  • Acidity: Acidity is what makes a glass of white wine taste fresh on the palate. It ranges from low (more mellow) to high (crisp). Higher acidity pairs well with acidic foods like raw oysters while lower acidity complements creamy sauces better.
  • Alcohol content: Most white wines tend to be lighter than reds when it comes to alcohol levels. The average ABV for white wines is 11%, however there are also higher alcohol styles such as Icewine which clock in at 16% or higher!
  • Sweetness: A dry white has little to no residual sugar but there are sweeter options such as Moscato d’Asti that pair perfectly with desserts or simply enjoyed on its own after dinner.
  • Oak Aging: Oak aging gives white wines additional complexity and depth but not all whites go through this process—Sauvignon Blanc does not usually spend time aged in oak barrels whereas Chardonnay often does.

White wines come in all shapes and sizes, making them suitable for any occasion. Whether you’re hosting an intimate gathering or simply enjoying a quiet meal at home, there’s sure to be a perfect bottle out there just waiting to be discovered!

Characteristics Of Red Wines

Ah, red wines – the mysterious and alluring beverage of choice for many connoisseurs. While some may shy away from its bold, dark hues and complex undertones, there is something undeniably special about a good bottle of Red. For seafood lovers looking to find the perfect accompaniment to their favorite dish, few beverages can compete with the unique characteristics of a great red wine.

Unlike white wines which are often light-bodied and fruity in flavor, reds bring an earthy depth that pairs wonderfully with lightly cooked or grilled fish as well as heartier fare like shellfish or crab. Whether you prefer a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon or something more subtle such as Pinot Noir, these varieties offer rich tannins along with notes of cherry, plum, currant, oak, and even leather. Reds also tend to have higher levels of acidity than whites so they won’t overpower the delicate flavors found in most seafood dishes. With a little bit of research and experimentation, you’re sure to find the perfect pairing for your next meal!

Selecting The Right Wine For Seafood Dishes

When it comes to pairing seafood dishes with the perfect wine, there are so many options that you may feel overwhelmed. But, don’t worry! With a few helpful tips and some delicious wines on hand, you can easily find the best match for your meal.

Start by considering the type of seafood dish you will be serving. For richer fish such as salmon or tuna, white wines like chardonnay are a great choice. Chardonnay has enough body to stand up to heartier types of fish while still providing balance and complexity. Other good choices include pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, and viognier. If you’re enjoying lighter fare such as shrimp scampi or crab cakes, opt for an unoaked chardonnay or other crisp whites like riesling or Gewurztraminer.

The key is finding a wine that complements rather than overwhelms the flavors in the food itself — one that offers acidity to cut through richness without being too overwhelming in its own flavor profile. When selecting reds for shellfish dishes, look for something delicate but flavorful such as pinot noir or gamay noir. These light-bodied wines pair particularly well with fresh oysters and clams served raw on the half-shell. Whether you choose a white or a red (or even rosé!), remember to have fun experimenting until you find what works best for your taste buds — after all, that’s what makes dining enjoyable!

Food And Wine Pairing Tips

Are you looking for the perfect pairing of food and wine? Whether it’s an intimate dinner or a large gathering, finding the right combination of flavors can elevate your meal from good to great. Let me show you my tips for creating delicious pairings that will be sure to impress.

WineFish & ShellfishCheese
ChardonnayHalibut, Salmon, ShrimpCheddar, Brie, Gruyere
Sauvignon BlancCrab, Lightly-Cooked TunaFeta, Goat Cheese
Pinot Grigio/GrisClams, OystersMozzarella
Pinot NoirScallopsBlue Cheese

When it comes to seafood dishes like halibut and crab cakes, most white wines are suitable companions. For those moments when you want something light yet crisp with hints of citrus and minerals such as lemon and stone fruits, look no further than chardonnay. If you prefer something grassier and more herbal in character then give sauvignon blanc a try. For oysters on the half shell or lightly cooked tuna go with a pinot grigio or pinot gris respectively. And if rosé is what you’re after then I recommend trying it with lobster. Last but certainly not least is red wine – specifically pinot noir which works nicely with scallops.

As far as cheese goes cheddar pairs well with chardonnay while feta prefers sauvignon blanc; mozzarella loves pinot grigio or gris; gouda matches up perfectly with rosé; and blue cheese is best enjoyed alongside pinot noir. So there you have it: from Chablis to Beaujolais – this guide has everything you need to create memorable meals using the power of flavor combinations!

Popular White Wines For Seafood Dishes

Now that you’ve got a few tips for food and wine pairings, let’s delve into the best white wines to accompany seafood dishes. White wine is known for its light and refreshing flavors, making it an ideal complement to many types of fish and shellfish dishes. Here are some popular picks:

  1. Chardonnay – This classic varietal has creamy nutty notes with hints of citrus, which pairs beautifully with any type of cooked fish or grilled seafood.
  2. Sauvignon Blanc – With crisp green fruit aromas and zesty acidity, Sauvignon Blanc offers good structure to oily rich fish like salmon or mackerel.
  3. Pinot Gris/Grigio– For those looking for something a bit lighter on the palate, Pinot Grigio brings delicate floral notes along with subtle stonefruit flavors, perfect for seared scallops or tuna tartare.
  4. Riesling– Riesling offers sweet honeyed aromas balanced by vibrant acidity for added complexity in your dish; it’s especially well suited to lightly battered fried calamari or shrimp tempura.
    When pairing white wines with seafood dishes, there’s no hard and fast rule – what matters most is finding the right balance between the flavors in both the wine and the dish itself. Experimenting with different varieties can be fun too! So don’t be afraid to try something new when planning your next seafood feast – you might just discover your new favorite combination of flavors!

Popular Red Wines For Seafood Dishes

Seafood dishes can be complemented perfectly with the right red wine. Pinot Noir is a popular choice for pairing seafood. Its bright acidity and low tannin structure make it an ideal companion to fish, shellfish, and other delicate flavors found in many seafood preparations. The Burgundy region of France produces some of the best examples of this varietal, offering aromas of cherries and raspberries as well as earthy notes that pair nicely with fresh herbs like dill or fennel.

Another great option when looking for a red wine to pair with seafood are lighter bodied Italian wines such as Chianti Classico or Barbera D’Asti – both have enough structure to stand up to richer dishes while still being light enough not to overpower more delicate fare. These two Italian gems offer vibrant fruit flavor profiles along with herbal tones that enhance the overall enjoyment of your meal. So whether you’re serving grilled shrimp, seared scallops, or ceviche, these classic reds will bring out all the amazing flavors in your dish!


The right wine pairing can make a seafood dish truly shine. With so many options available, choosing the perfect bottle may seem daunting. Fortunately, by understanding the characteristics of white and red wines as well as food-pairing techniques, you’ll be able to confidently select from chardonnay to pinot noir for an unforgettable dining experience.

From crisp whites that bring out the sweetness in shellfish dishes to full-bodied reds that pair perfectly with rich salmon filets, a great selection of wines is sure to elevate your meal. Whether you opt for classic choices like sauvignon blanc or more adventurous picks such as gewürztraminer, rest assured that your accompaniment will complement rather than compete with your seafood creations.

With careful consideration, selecting the ideal wine for your seafood feast isn’t as intimidating as it seems – it’s simply a matter of finding the right flavor balance between fish and vino. So go ahead, explore some new varieties and take your culinary journey one sip at a time! Cheers!

About the author 

Karina Kahale

I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. After years of travel, exploration, and education, I founded Underground Wine Merchants in 2019.

Currently, I work as a sommelier at a fine dining restaurant here in Hawaii. I pursued my education at the prestigious ICE Sommelier Institute in Los Angeles, which has equipped me with the knowledge and skills to excel in my profession.

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