Pairing Wine with Grilled Fish

Throw some fish on the grill and serve it with a few of these great, fish-friendly wines


Summer’s end is closing in on us, as witnessed by the encroaching darkness that makes grilling more and more of a challenge each weekend. I lament the passing of yet another summer, but I am determined to use my full grilling quota. With the bounty of summer produce upon us, it’s a certain style of grilling that I’m doing now. Hotter, faster, fresher grilling.

With so many veggies on the plate, it is increasingly difficult to find the time, space, or desire to slap a big hunk of meat on the grill. The solution to this enviable problem? Seafood.

I’ve been on a tear with grilled shrimp, wild salmon, char and a gorgeous piece of halibut, all paired deftly with gloriously fresh summer vegetables and wine, of course.

So, which wine goes with which fish? That’s the kind of detail that can bog you down and ruin your grillin’. Don’t get bogged down! Just go with the flow and pair your wines to your preparations.

Spicy foods like a bit of sweetness and low tannins. And really, all fish like low tannins, so that’s a great place to start looking for your seafood and wine pairings. Go for whites, rosés and low tannin reds as a rule and you’ll be halfway to culinary success!

Read on for some delicious recipes and the wines that go with them.

Photo courtesy of shutterstock images

Grilled Shrimp with Citrus-Sambal-Oelek Dressing

Citrussy and a bit spicy, this dish calls for a nice New Zealand-style Sauvignon Blanc that is rich with fruit and zesty with acidity.

Get The Recipe Here

Two to try:
2011 Vavasour Sauvignon Blanc Dashwood

2010 Tiefenbrunner Kirchleiten Sauvignon Blanc

Grilled Split Lobster with Pesto

Grilling lobster can be a little tricky. Keep the claws over the coals and cook the tail indirectly for more even cooking. I generally brush the flesh with oil infused with ginger, garlic, hot chilies and basil, but this simple preparation is an easy way to get you started.

Grilled lobster marries perfectly with a rich Chardonnay, but I’ll save the Chardonnay for the next recipe and opt for a plump white Rhone blend here.

Get The Recipe Here

Two to try:

2010 Paul Jaboulet Chateauneuf du Pape Les Cedres

2009 d’Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier (72%) Marsanne (28%)

Grilled Scallops with Mexican Corn Salad

I’ve been making a dish very similar to this for years. The pairing of fresh, sweet corn and fresh, sweet scallops, bound together by wisps of smoke and chilies can be addictive. I do not use the mayonnaise nor do I use the cheese suggested in this recipe, but I do add in some celery. The kernels release plenty of their own creamy liquid when this is made with freshly shucked corn.

With the richness of the dish and the smoky edge imparted by grilling, it is a no-brainer match for a big Chardonnay.

Get The Recipe Here

Two to try:

2010 Hamilton Russell Vineyards Hemel-En-Aarde Valley Chardonnay South Africa

2009 Wente Morning Fog Chardonnay Livermore Valley


Pastrami Style Grilled Salmon

Smoky, peppery and rich grilled salmon is a brilliant idea, particularly when you want to pair it with a red wine. Pinot Noir and salmon is a classic pairing. Truth is, I’m very particular about this pairing since the wine often overwhelms the fish. In this case, you can break out a pretty powerful Pinot and still make for a compelling match, though a nice, subtle Syrah might actually be a better partner. I see a showdown in my fish future.

Get The Recipe Here

Two to try:

2008 Edmunds St. John Syrah

2009 Bethel Heights Estate Pinot Noir


Grilled Halibut with Bread and Pancetta Skewers

This last dish is a bit of a cheat, with the lovely, flaky halibut being enhanced by the sweetly salty flavors of pancetta. I love the combination here and the pancetta opens doors to red wines that would otherwise be off limits with halibut. Truthfully, one’s options do remain limited. This would be a brilliant foil for a bold rosé.

Get The Recipe Here

Two to try:

2000 Lopez de Heredia Tondonia Rosado Gran Reserva

2011 Guado al Tasso Scalabrone Rosato Bolgheri Italy


Slideshow View

Wines with Grilled Fish

Vavasour Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough Dashwood (2011)
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Tiefenbrunner Sauvignon Blanc Alto Adige Südtirol Kirchleiten (2010)
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Paul Jaboulet Aine Chateauneuf-du-Pape Blanc les Cedres (2010)
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D'Arenberg "Hermit Crab" Viognier-Marsanne Mclaren Vale South Australia (2009)
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Hamilton Russell Chardonnay Walker Bay (2010)
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Wente Vineyards Chardonnay Livermore Valley Morning Fog (2009)
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Edmunds St. John Syrah California (2008)
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Bethel Heights Pinot Noir (2009)
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R. López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Rosado (2000)
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Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Bolgheri Scalabrone Rosato (2011)
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