Everyone knows that wine makes food better, and vice versa. But while some pairings, like red-sauce pasta and red wine, are no-brainers, other pairings can prove trickier.
One food and wine pairing that seems to be a universal puzzler? Wine and fish. But don’t worry: it doesn’t have to be confusing or scary! Here at Lionfish Coastal Cuisine, we want you to enjoy the best of both worlds when you visit our Gaslamp Quarter seafood restaurant…so here are our 5 rules for pairing wine with fish!
- Consider the type of fish. To say that there’s one universal pairing for wine and fish would be pretty dismissive. After all, there are plenty of different types of both wine and fish out there! For the best results when choosing a wine, you need to consider the specific type of fish you’re enjoying.
For example, a light, flaky fish like tilapia might be better suited to a light, bright white wine, where a meaty, firm-textured fish like salmon or tuna might call for a more robust wine selection.
Confused about the characteristics of the specific fish you’re ordering? Our knowledgeable staff can help guide you with menu and wine selections!
- Match the wine with the sauce. Don’t just consider what type of fish you’re eating. Consider the flavorings of the composed dish, too.
Many wine writers suggest pairing wine to the sauce that meat or fish is served with. For instance, take the Coal Grilled Local Yellowtail on the Lionfish menu. This menu item is prepared with butter confit wild mushrooms, daikon, savoy cabbage, and tosazu sauce. tosazu sauce, if you’re not familiar, is a type of fermented vinegar.
The buttery mushrooms and the tosazu sauce give this dish plenty of umami. This might affect your wine choice. For example, while yellowtail served with a lemon sauce might be better paired with a white wine, the flavors in this composed dish could make a wine like pinot noir, which pairs well with earthy flavors, a great pick.
- Contrast can be a good thing. There’s a lot of emphasis put on “matching” wine and fish dishes. However, don’t forget that contrast can be a good thing, too!
Consider how pizza tastes better with the flavor of a cold, sweet cola drink. That same concept can be applied to even higher-brow pairings like wine and fish in a restaurant setting.
For example, consider the Whole Steamed Baja Striped Seabass from our menu. It’s served with melted leeks, spigarello broccolini, cilantro, scallion, and “sucio” sauce. There are a lot of rich, strong, savory flavors in this dish.
But does that mean you need to go for a thick, rich, savory wine too? Not necessarily. You could choose a rosé or sparkling wine to add a bit of bite and contrast to the richness of the dish. Sounds like a delicious and dynamic dining experience!
- Don’t dismiss red wine. It’s a generally accepted rule that fish goes best with white wine. And true, this is a generally good approach. However, to say that fish should never be paired with red wine would be incorrect…and this kind of thinking could keep you from experiencing from truly delicious combinations!
For instance, a more assertively-flavored fish like tuna pretty much always has enough oomph to stand up to a red wine. The preparation and seasoning involved in a dish could make it red-worthy, too. For example, a rich roasted fish in a savory sauce could pair extremely well with a red, where a poached fish in a light lemon sauce might be better suited to a white wine.
- It’s OK to have fun. Why so serious? Eating out and enjoying wine should be a joyful experience. It’s absolutely fine–and in fact, encouraged–to have fun!
The good news is that if you follow these rules and ask for advice from our friendly staff, you’re pretty much guaranteed tasty results. Sure, you might find that some combinations are more to your liking than others, but hey, that’s part of the adventure of trying new things!
Have fun and enjoy! You just might be rewarded with your new favorite flavor combination!
Ready to put your newfound knowledge to the test? We welcome you to join us at Lionfish Modern Coastal Cuisine to test out these techniques for pairing wine with fish! Pssst: wine lovers, rejoice! On a weekly basis, we offer Vino Sundays where you can score ½ priced bottles of wine! Be sure to make your reservation in advance, because the restaurant tends to fill up fast during this awesome event!
What’s your favorite wine and fish pairing?