Fish and Shellfish

White wine has traditionally been servied with fish, although this is changing. Red wines work well with a fish that is oily or meaty. The sauce covering the fish is another imporant consideration. For broiled or grilled fish with no sauce, white wine is usually the best choice, although Pinot Noir is often paired with salmon. With the basics in mind, let's look at specific fish and some suggested wine pairings.

anchovies (Fresh, Grilled)

  • Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley or California, or
  • Spanish Manzanilla sherry.

calamari (Squid)

Fried calamari
  • A fruity Chenin Blanc from California or
  • Italian Pinot Grigio.
For calamari cooked in tomato sauce
  • Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or California.


  • Champagne;
  • Dry California sparkling wine; or
  • French Chardonnay from Chablis.


  • Fino sherry,
  • Dry rose from northern Spain, or
  • Unoaked Chardonnay from Chile or California.


  • A big, oaky Chardonnay from California or Australia.
  • A medium-weight California Pinot Noir from Carneros or the Central Coast.


Steamed clams
  • White Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire, or
  • Dry rose.
For clams in cream sauce
  • Mid­range white Burgundy from France or
  • Medium-oaked California Chardonnay.
Clams in tomato sauce
  • Acidic Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or
  • Muscadet from the Loire in France.
For clams in wine sauce
  • A better version of the wine used in the sauce.


Broiled cod
  • Pinot Blanc from California or
  • White Bordeaux from France.
With dried cod (Bacalao)
  • Pinot Gris from Oregon or
  • Sauvignon Blanc from California.


Chardonnay from California or the state of Washington.

fish terrine

  • Oaky Chardonnay from Australia or California, or
  • German Riesling.


  • Unoaked Sauvignon Blanc from California, or
  • Chardonnay.


  • Italian Pinot Grigio,
  • California Pinot Blanc, or
  • Lightly oaked Chilean or California Chardonnay.


  • White Burgundy from France or
  • California Chardonnay

For lobster Newburgh, a Chardonnay, or a light Pinot Noir from Oregon or California.


  • California Viognier or
  • Oregon Pinot Gris.


  • Lightly oaked Chardonnay or
  • Pinot Noir from California, or
  • French Beaujolais.


Steamed mussels
  • Dry Riesling from Alsace, or
  • Unoaked Sauvignon Blanc or
  • Pinot Blanc from California.
Mussels in cream sauce
  • A lightly oaked California Chardonnay or
  • German Riesling;
Mussels in tomato sauce
  • Herbal, high-acid Sauvignon Blanc
Mussels in wine sauce
  • A better version of the wine used in the sauce.


  • Chablis,
  • Dry Riesling,
  • California sparkling wine,
  • Sauvignon Blanc, or
  • California Pinot Noir.

red snapper

  • Pinot Noir, or
  • A light Merlot from California.


Salmon pairs well with red wine such as

  • a California or Oregon Pinot Noir,
  • a good red Burgundy, or
  • a Beaujolais from France.

If you prefer a white wine, choose a Chardonnay from California.


  • Spanish Albarino or
  • Dry Orvieto from Italy.


  • California or Australian Chardonnay, or
  • A young Merlot from the state of Washington.

sea bass

  • White Bordeaux from France or
  • Sauvignon Blanc from California, or
  • Chilean Chardonnay.


  • Pinot Noir from New York State or
  • Merlot from the state of Washington.

shrimp and prawns

Shrimp in garlic sauce
  • A light to medium-weight red such as a Merlot from Washington State.
Fried or grilled shrimp (or prawns)
  • Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire in France, or from California.

smoked fish

  • Gewlirztraminer,
  • Pinot Gris,
  • Riesling from Alsace,
  • Sauvignon Blancfrom California or New Zealand.


  • French Chablis or
  • A lightly oaked California Sauvignon Blanc.


  • California Chardonnay or
  • French white Burgundy.


Freshwater trout is delicate.

  • Unoaked Chardonnay from California or Oregon,
  • an Albarino from Spain, or
  • a Pinot Grigio from Italy.

Sea trout can take

  • Chardonnay or
  • Viognier from California.