Wine Pairing: How to Pair Wine With Salmon?


The normal pairings for wine and meat are well known. White meat is paired with white wine and red wine goes with red meat. This is pretty simple and straight forward, but what are the rules when it comes to salmon? As much as fish is white meat, there is every reason to want a bit of variety when it comes to the wine choices. There is a gamut of recipes to prepare your salmon, so it pays to have a full spectrum of wines for different salmon dishes.

When picking wines for your salmon dishes, it is important that you take into consideration every aspect of the dish. The seasoning you are going to use as well as the fattiness of the meal all count. Think also about the final sauce that will accompany the meal. The overall textures, influential spices, and method of preparation all come together for a delectable mix that dictates what wine you should pick.

The Basics of Wine Selection

Salmon is oily white meat with a rich taste and flaky texture. It is a general rule that you pair such meat with a full-bodied white wine such as oak-aged Chardonnay, White Burgundy, White Rioja, Marsanne, Viognier or White Pinot Noir. This, of course, does not mean that you have to stick to white wine only. There are preparation methods that go well with light-bodied, low-tannin reds or rosé.

Wine To Pair With Plain Salmon

When plain salmon is roasted slowly, it cooks to a soft and delicate texture. A more steak-like way of preparing it gives it a dry and flaky feel and makes it mealy. Generally, well-prepared plain salmon has a soft grain that is somewhat mushy.

For this type of salmon dish, get a bottle of oak-aged white wine. Time-aged white wine would also be fine. These have that robust lemon with notes of brûlée or nuts that add to the texture of the fish. If you want something richer, then you can always get a Californian Central Coast Chardonnay, Spanish white Rioja-aged, Australian Chardonnay or a Chardonnay/Trebbiano from Sicily. These are some of the rich whites that have a taste that will integrate well with the taste of the salmon to give a great overall taste.

Ever wonder about the contents of that white wine you love so much? Check out “How Many Calories in a Bottle of White Wine” for more.

In this case, you also have the choice for more subtle pairings. Wines with subtle herbal notes are a great choice. Pick between wines such as a Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc or a type of Chardonnay.

A Note On Salmon and Red Wine

You won’t miss a wine to pair with steak-like white meat such as salmon. The trick is to find a wine with low tannin to avoid the metallic taste you get when you pair with full-bodied reds. A Pinot Noir would be a great choice in this case. The fruity raspberry and strawberry notes, as well as the earthy undertones all, work to balance the flavor of the fish. From baked to smoked, grilled or pan-seared salmon, you can never go wrong with a light Pinot Noir with light tannin. One example of this kind of pairing is the Valpolicella blend, which is mainly the Corvina grape. There are also other choices such as Prieto Picudo (Spain), Beaujolais (French) and Lambrusco (Italian).

Matching your pairings to the sauce and method of preparation. If you’re thinking of cooking with that bottle of wine, check out “What is Cooking Wine?” for tips on how to cook with your wine.

Salmon With Crispy Skin

Salmon has a steak-like texture and flakiness that really comes out prominently when you prepare it using this method.  Squeegee the skin dry, prepare your salmon on a hot skillet, and cook it skin side down with vegetable oil. It turns out meaty with that flaky texture that makes it look appetizing even before you take a bite! For this preparation, try the following:

  • Carignan
  • Valpolicella blend
  • Grenache/ Garnacha Rosé such as Tavel
  • Lambrusco

Take a break from these salmon dishes to find out “What Wine Should I Drink With Steak” to know which wine to pair with your other dishes.

Roasted Salmon Accompanied By Cream Sauce

Roasting or poaching salmon with a creamy sauce to go with is one of the classic ways to prepare this tasty and rich fish. The creamy, herbal, and lemony sauce goes well with the tender meat. Some examples of the sauce include cream sauce of lemon dill, béarnaise, cucumber and dill yogurt sauce or creamy caper and horseradish sauce.

Pair with the following wines:

  • Sémillon from Australia
  • Oak-aged Chardonnay
  • Sauvignon Blanc from a warm climate such as the Napa Sauvignon Blanc
  • Grüner Veltliner (lighter, herbal match)
  • Trebbiano blend
  • Vermentino

Glazed Salmon

There is an endless choice of styles when it comes to teriyaki. The one ingredient that makes them all more or less the same is sugar. Teriyaki can be made using pineapple juice, honey, agave or brown sugar. This is what to use for the sweet glaze.

For this type of salmon preparation, try:

  • Moscato (Muscat Blanc)
  • Bold Rosé wines
  • Torrontés
  • White Pinot Noir
  • Lambrusco
  • Dry Riesling
  • Gewürztraminer

Smoked Salmon

Do you like waking up to a breakfast with fancy eggs and mouthwatering bacon? That’s nice, but you would be hard-pressed to find an alternative that tops smoked salmon. Serve it with salty capers, bagels, and cream cheese. To nail this wine pairing, you need to find a wine with the appropriate acidity and bursting flavors to accompany the salty notes from the fish. Try a sparkling wine or a bold rosé.

Check out “Most Common Fruity Wines” to see if you can find this salmon dish with a sweeter wine.

Salmon Chowder

Salmon chowder is made using more spices than the tame clam chowder. Some of the spices that give this dish such a savory and spicy flavor include smoked paprika, turmeric and cayenne pepper. There is a wide range of spices and herbs that you can use for salmon chowder to get the soup to the richness of taste of the salmon. It is a dish that goes well with any kind of sparkling wine so pick your favorite and enjoy.

No matter what kind of salmon dish you want a wine pairing for, there is very little you can get wrong. Check the seasoning on your dish and the ingredients in the sauce as well. The dominant flavoring and cooking method should guide you. You can also choose to experiment with your pairings but if this is the case, then do stick to the white wine varieties. The meal is going to be oily, so you can always depend on wines with a taste of citrus as the perfect match.

Thank you for reading! Before you go we wanted to share this awesome opportunity we have. Did you know we are sponsored by Amazon Prime! Amazon is offering our Wine on My Time community an exclusive offer of a FREE 30-day trial of their famous Amazon Prime Membership. Click here to get your free trial started and enjoy that free 2-day shipping!

Also be sure to check out related content for the kitchen like “Best Grapes for Making Wine“, “What is Table Wine?“, or “Beginner Wines that You Need to Try“.

Wine on My Time is a resource blog for wine lovers all across the world! We take pride in delivering the best quality wine material for our readers. Check us out on Instagram and Pinterest for daily wine content.

Bottoms up, we’ll uncork ya later! ?

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