We all know that a good seafood dish goes well with a glass of white wine. However, there are other options for seafood pairings that you might want to try. In this article, we’ll examine some of them.
This blog post has examples where dishes can be combined with light beer, the second favorite option for seafood pairing. We’ll even go further and show some examples of popular seafood restaurant meals that combine just right with full-bodied dry red wine types or a glass of dark stout beer.
Seafood Pairing with Wine
Traditionally, white wine goes with white meat and red wine goes with red meat. That is why you will see seafood pairing well with a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or Riesling.
Both fish and shellfish dishes can be complimented excellently with a glass of chilled white wine. In most cases, a full-bodied option (like Chardonnay) is preferred. But if the dish is rich in seasoning and flavors, you might consider a glass of Riesling or another light-bodied white wine.
Grilled salmon, surf & turf, or smoked fish are excellent examples of dishes that go well with a glass of red. Some recipes include strong seasoning like BBQ sauce. In that case, the preferred option again is red.
Some seafood restaurants have a specific wine-food pairing menu. This will typically include some of the best wine pairings such as wine pairing with salmon and other seafood options.
Seafood Pairing with Beer
Craft beer and food is a top-notch combination, especially with seafood. In fact, beer is often an ingredient in seafood recipes.
The drink makes the meat even richer in flavor. That is why it is no wonder that one of the popular seafood pairings is beer.
Usually, that’s a light one, pale ale or lager. Some seafood dishes go very well with a glass of cold American IPA. Its citrusy flavor complements the fish dish really well.
Key takeaway: Traditionally, seafood pairs well with white wine. There are some dishes that go excellent with beer, usually pale ale. On rare occasions, some fish meals are combined with a cocktail, a rose, or a red wine.
Top 8 Ideas for Seafood Pairings
Not hungry yet? Well, these next dish ideas will encourage you to make a reservation at your closest seafood restaurant.
- Grilled Shrimp and Beer
It doesn’t matter how the shrimp are seasoned. They can be spicy, sweet chili, or even lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. The bitterness of the beer compliments the flavor of the shrimp.
This dish is usually an appetizer. However, if you add some sides like potato salad or risotto, it can be the main course. The preferred options for the beer food pairing are pale ale or other light beer.
On cold winter nights, you can experiment with a dark beer like stout or Indian pale ale. The richness of both the dish and the drink is guaranteed.
- Lobster Bisque and Chardonnay
This highly seasoned traditional French soup pairs perfectly with a glass of cooled Chardonnay. Both oaked and unoaked chardonnays are excellent choices for this soup and for other seafood pairings.
The buttery texture of the bisque will complement the creamy taste of a Chardonnay. If you choose this combination as an appetizer, consider a light main course and dessert.
- Oysters and White Wine
Oceanic oysters have the highest level of saltiness. That is why they should be combined with a drink with high acidity.
Dry white wines are the obvious candidates. Make sure the oysters were farmed according to seafood sustainability standards. Otherwise, no matter the drink, their taste might be questionable.
- Crab Cakes and Sparkling Wine
Crab cakes are among the preferred seafood dishes at occasions and cocktails. They are rich in flavor and are excellent in preparing your digestive system for the main course.
In contrast, you need a light drink like sparkling wine. Other options will be a light white like Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc. In this case, the proper choice of a seafood pairing drink depends more on the occasion.
- Grilled Salmon and Pinot Noir
Traditionally, fish goes well with white wines. However, some roses and reds are still considered good for food and drink pairing.
Pinot Noir has earthy and smoky notes and pairs exceptionally well with steak. In fact, it’s one of the preferred steak-wine pairing options.
Therefore, a grilled salmon steak will go very well with a glass of Pinot Noir. As a light-bodied red, the proper serving temperature for this wine is around 50-55 degrees.
Keep in mind that, even though Pinot Noir is made from red grapes, there’s also white Pinot Noir. If you want to go for a more traditional seafood pairing, having a glass of white will be better.
- Clam Chowder and Beer
A chilled pale ale and a bowl of thick chowder soup with some lightly seasoned toasted bread on the side. That sounds like a treat that’s hard to beat.
The light beer contrasts well with the strong taste of this dish. However, if you want to reward your palate with a combination of tastes, consider ordering a strong dark beer.
The usual suspects are stout, Irish brown, or even porter. Beware of the strength of your drink as these beers usually have higher alcohol content (% ABV).
- Sushi and Sake
Is it even possible to have a list of seafood dishes and not include anything from Japanese cuisine? This is a rhetorical question.
A well-presented seafood plating with sushi and sashimi pair great with sake. This Japanese traditional drink is made out of rice. There are different variations of sake. Some are consumed cold, and others warm.
There are even some that are consumed at a temperature of over 120 degrees. Talk about a hot drink. As with all fish dishes, sushi and sashimi also pair well with most types of white wine.
- Fish & Chips and Beer
It is no surprise that the traditional British fish and chips dish goes well with a pint of cold pale ale. This is one of the popular seafood pairing combinations in a traditional UK pub.
The bitterness of the beer helps find the rich taste of the fish and chips. If you want to go an extra step, try a beer with a hint of citrus flavor. This will add to the experience.
Frequently Asked Questions about Seafood Pairing
If you want to order some of the top seafood pairing options on your next restaurant visit, the questions below might help you. If you are a restaurant business owner who wants to better combine seafood and drinks in their venue, we hope you will find the answers below.
Why Is Seafood Pairing in the Menu Important?
Having a variety of white wine options in your seafood restaurant will increase the revenue and customer satisfaction of the venue. A good seafood restaurant manager knows that fish is usually combined with white wines.
Consider stocking up on white wine options, both Old World and New World. We recommend using a restaurant and marketplace app or other restaurant technology to track your warehouse inventory.
Beer is another popular seafood pairing. Therefore, make sure to have different choices of light and IPA beers.
Why Doesn't Red Wine Go with Seafood?
Red wine is rich in iron and other minerals. This can lead to a “fishy” aftertaste if combined with seafood. However, there are many dishes that go really well with both rose and red wines. Some red wines are suitable for cooking seafood too.
A glass of red is an excellent seafood pairing for surf & turf, smoked salmon steak, or another rich-in-flavor option. Just make sure not to overdo it. The safe choice is to order a well-seasoned dish with a light-bodied wine like Sauvignon Blanc.
Do Cocktails Pair Well with Seafood?
Yes, some seafood dishes can be combined with cocktails such as Gin Martini, Mojito, or Bloody Mary. Even though white wine and pale ale are the most popular choices for seafood pairings, some dishes, especially seasonal seafood, go well with mixed drinks.
The type of cocktail strongly depends on your personal preferences. However, a general rule of thumb is to not mix too many flavors. One of the health benefits of seafood is that it’s easy to digest. But having a strong-seasoned meal with a strong cocktail can cause some stomach ache.