You've heard the inherited wisdom: "Drink only white wine with seafood." As with most of the basic guidelines for wine pairing, it's well-intentioned, a useful way to break down the options for what to drink with dinner. But once you understand the reasoning behind it, you can move beyond it with confidence, and reap the rewards.

Why you should break it: The field of available, delicious red wine is so large and diverse now that very few blanket rules can effectively apply. If you're looking to match your seafood with something fruity or light-bodied, higher-acid or even sparkling, well -- there's a red for that.

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There's plenty of useful wisdom built into this particular rule. For one, it's meant to stop the pairing of lighter-bodied wines with heavy, over-powering foods. It's also born of the idea that the high tannins and low acidity of some red wines make a very poor (and often grossly metallic) match for the oils found in plenty of seafood dishes. The rule even picked up a bit of scientific evidence last year, when a team of Japanese researchers discovered that the high iron content of red wine exacerbates the 'fishy' aftertaste of scallops.

Knowing the background to the rule, however, just gives you all the more ammo to break through it. Here are some reds to test out at your next seafood supper:

An elegant, lighter-bodied Pinot Noir is a great call for simple grilled or baked salmon. This is a perfect opportunity to go with another pairing guideline -- matching the wine's region to the food's origin -- and open an Oregon Pinot with something fresh-caught in the Pacific Northwest.

Two to try:

2006 Winter's Hill Pinot Noir

2006 Maison Champy Bourgogne Rouge


With refreshing acidity, complex fruit-and-earth notes, and very soft tannins, Barbera is an excellent match for tuna's rich, meaty flesh. Throw it on the grill alongside well-oiled veggies.

Two to try:

2004 Flavio Roddolo Barbera d'Alba

2007 Bazzini Barbera


Serve it up with skate -- the relatively meaty, mild-flavored flesh comes alive with a medium-bodied, slightly black pepper-inflected Syrah.

Two to try:

2006 Chave Offerus St. Joseph

2007 Cline

Here's another good opportunity to consider the wine's region, and then eat like a local (or vice versa). The next time you try your hand at paella, go straight for a lighter-bodied Rioja.

Two to try:

2003 R. Lopez de Heredia Cubillo

1999 Miguel Merino Rioja Gran Reserva


Light-bodied and full of sprightly fruit, Beaujolais is typically a very food-friendly selection, and a great way to entice white wine loyalists to cross to the dark(er) side. Give it a chill and serve it outdoors with rich, well-peppered tuna or wild salmon.

Two to try:

2003 Coudert Fleurie Clos de la Roilette

2007 Cheateau de Pizay Beaujolais


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