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Serving the Right Wine with Seafood

Seafood and white wine: a matchmaker’s delight
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Serving the Right Wine with SeafoodServing the Right Wine with Seafood
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Dr. Dieter Simon

„Fish must swim” is an old German saying which holds more than a grain of truth. Yet the question remains: “Which fish swims best in which wine?” There is such incredible diversity in seafood, and even more methods of preparation; there really can’t be any one answer.

While a delicately prepared halibut just yearns for a Riesling or Chardonnay, a grilled fish steak has other needs. Mussels, lobster and other shellfish generally go well with lighter white wines, although oaky nuances don’t do any harm. The other foods and sauces that accompany the fish should also be taken into account, as they can greatly affect a skilled wine decision. No matter whether the fish is braised, sautéed, steamed or seared, the sauce served with it can heavily influence the taste as a whole. Whether subtly delicate, creamily rich, or heavily spiced, the sauce and other trimmings will help form the flavor of the whole dish, which in turn will influence the choice of wine.

As a rule of thumb, a delicately and subtly seasoned fish needs a light and flowery white wine, which won’t overpower the taste of the fish itself. For example, a sommelier in the restaurant “Sonnenhof” in Laufen suggests, “The perfect wine accompaniment to fish should be light yet mouth-filling, balanced, fresh and elegant. We recommend Chardonnay with Dover sole, Riesling Spätlese with seared gilthead bream, monkfish medallions with Pinot Gris, or loup de mer baked in a salt crust with a light Sauvignon Blanc.” Logically enough, a richer fish can be served with a richer wine. And if the fish is prepared using white wine, it’s best to serve the same wine with the meal.

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