Food & Drink

12 Exceptions To The Rule That You Shouldn't Drink Red Wine With Fish

Don't be afraid to break the rules every once in a while.
05/30/2014 07:00am ET

The rule of thumb for pairing wine with food is red wine goes with meat and white wine with fish. This well-known statute is strictly observed the world over -- but are there ever exceptions?

Like most culinary rules, if you understand why they exist you can usually break them, within reason. For example, you don't have to truss a chicken before roasting it and scrambled eggs do not necessarily need to be cooked on low heat, the Amateur Gourmet says. Sometimes it's fun to break the rules -- and it can be a rewarding way to discover something new.

Drinking red wine with seafood instead of white is a perfect example. In some cases, red wine may actually be preferable to white, but you'd never find that out if you were a stickler for the rules.

Sommelier and restaurateur Paul Grieco of New York wine bar Terroir and restaurant Hearth believes the red-with-meat and white-with-fish rule is severely outdated. "The last time this expression held true, Nixon was still in the White House. Everything is up for grabs these days, except for the supremacy of Riesling," he told Serious Eats.

So when is it okay to pair red wine with fish? It all comes down to texture and flavor.

Wine Enthusiast magazine explains the importance of texture, which is defined by cooking method, when pairing wine. with seafood. The same fish prepared differently could go with either red or white -- it all depends on how you cook it and what texture it obtains. A heartier fish cooked in the oven, like a roasted salmon, could work well with a red. A silky salmon that was poached in olive oil, on the other hand, would work better with white.

Wine Enthusiast's basic guideline is to match the texture of the seafood with the body -- the lightness or heartiness -- of the wine. Lighter seafood dishes go well with lighter reds, like Grenache, Syrah or a light Pinot Noir. Heavier, meatier seafood dishes, like grilled swordfish and tuna, hold up well with bolder red wines like Gamays.

Flavor is equally important. As the New York Times puts it, "for a rich fish, red wine flatters."The Times explains that if you're treating fish like meat -- like cooking tuna with a red-wine sauce -- red wine is preferable to white. Also, if you're cooking seafood with meat, you should consider a red. The Times suggests staying away from oaky or tannic wines and choosing lighter wines like a Cabernet Franc, Burgundy or Rioja. Grilled fish might have a smoky flavor that would taste really good with red wine, as would fish cooked with a savory, mushroom sauce.

Master Sommelier Virginia Philip told Serious Eats that tuna tartare "can easily go with a rosé or Pinot Noir." Kerri O'Brien, Sommelier at DBGB Kitchen & Bar, thinks that a light Pinot Noir can work with arctic char or roasted black bass.

Here are 12 seafood dishes you could try with a glass of red wine. What seafood dishes have you enjoyed with a glass of red?

1
Spicy Tuna Tartare
Food52
Get the Spicy Tuna Tartare recipe by Healthierkitchen from Food52
2
Sicilian-Style Swordfish
Food52
Get the Sicilian-Style Swordfish recipe by CucinettaNYC from Food52
3
Hot Smoked Salmon, Soba and Asian Greens Salad
Food52
Get the Hot Smoked Salmon, Soba and Asian Greens Salad recipe by cheese1227 from Food52
4
Spicy Andalusian Seafood Paella
Food52
Get the Spicy Andalusian Seafood Paella recipe by onetribegourmet from Food52
5
Fennel and Black Peppercorn Crusted Swordfish with Pan Roasted Carrots
Food52
6
Roasted Salmon with Sunchoke Galettes and Parsley Vinaigrette
Food52
Get the Roasted Salmon with Sunchoke Galettes and Parsley Vinaigrette recipe by CarolineWright from Food52
7
Grilled Niçoise Tuna Steaks
HuffPost Taste
Get the Grilled Niçoise Tuna Steaks recipe from HuffPost Taste
8
Braised Fish with Tomato and Herbs
HuffPost Taste
Get the Braised Fish with Tomato and Herbs recipe from HuffPost Taste
9
Halibut with Coriander and Carrots
HuffPost Taste
Get the Seared Halibut with Coriander and Carrots recipe from HuffPost Taste
10
Salmon BLT Sliders with Chipotle Mayo
How Sweet It Is
Get the Salmon BLT Sliders with Chipotle Mayo recipe by How Sweet It Is
11
Tuna Tartare with Potato Pancakes
HuffPost Taste
Get the Tuna Tartare with Potato Pancakes recipe by Marcus Samuelsson from HuffPost Taste
12
Bouillabaisse with Red Pepper Rouille
What's For Lunch Honey?
Get the Bouillabaisse with Red Pepper Rouille recipe from What's For Lunch Honey?

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Seafood Recipes