The Fish Course

Smoked Salmon

Most people automatically choose white wines to go with fish, but don't forget rosés which go brilliantly with a wide variety of dishes, particularly those of Mediterranean style. Reds are not off-limits either, and can go very well with 'meatier' types of fish such as salmon or tuna. Reds with high tannins are probably best avoided though. Champagne and sparkling wine are classic partners too. The sauce and type of cooking is important in choosing the wine. If baked or poached, serve a better wine. If cooked in a rich creamy sauce, push the boat out serving the best you can afford. If fried or with tomato sauce or stir-fried, the wine should be simple dry and friendly.

For information, the names of each fish appear in both English and French.

Anchovies (anchoïs)

Go better with red, try sturdy Portuguese or a Southern French wine. Some say that wine from Collioure is the perfect match.

Bass (bar) or sea perch (loup de mer)

Glorious with any fine white wine. Great with Burgundy, Alsace Riesling of Grand Cru quality, or Graves.

Cod (morue or cabillaud), turbot (turbot), sole (sole or limande), plaice (carrelet) & haddock (aiglefin or haddock)

Go well with richer styles of white wine so any Burgundy, especially Côte d'Or, Alsace Grand Cru Riesling, top New World Chardonnay, Savennières & Vouvray from the Loire (especially an older demi-sec), white Hermitage, Gavi from Italy, white Rioja (Murrieta), Bordeaux or dry Jurançon. Full-bodied dry Riesling from the Pfalz works well too.


Champagne, Mersault, Rhine Riesling, richer styles of Chardonnay from South Africa, New Zealand or, Australia, White Rioja (Murrieta).

Herring (hareng), whitebait (friture) & mackerel (maquereau)

Muscadet, Touraine Sauvignon, dry Vinho Verde, Fino Sherry or Manzanilla.


Strong tea or as for smoked fish.

Monkfish (lotte)

Cooked with garlic and served with mashed potatoes, White Burgundy or White Rhône (but not Viognier). Dig deep into your pocket and serve the best. Will stand up to wine with age.

Mussels (moules)

Any unpretentious dry white. Muscadet or Chablis or young dry Alsace Riesling. One of the great dishes from Catalonia is mussels grilled in olive oil, garlic and shredded almonds. Natural choice here would be a flavoury Languedoc-Roussillon white or a Fino Sherry.

Perch (perche)

Mature white Burgundy, Alsace Grand Cru Riesling even fine Mosel Kabinett with a little age or dry Rhine Riesling.

Pike-perch or zander (sandre)

A very fine fish, rare in this country, needs classic white eg Chablis Grand Cru, Puligny-Montrachet, Alsace Grand Cru Riesling.

Fresh salmon (saumon)

Pink Champagne , white Loire, Alsace Riesling, good quality Chardonnay from almost anywhere, or even young Pinot Noir from New Zealand, Sancerre, Italy or Burgundy.

Scallops (saint-jacques)

A marvellous dish that is wine friendly and goes best with wines that have a little sweetness. Best of all are Vouvray or Montlouis demi sec or even light moelleux with some age. Also top young white Premier Cru Burgundy, Alsace Pinot Gris, Alsace Grand Cru Riesling, even Vendange Tardive, Rhine Riesling, white Hermitage, Condrieu or any Viognier from around the world, fruity Languedoc whites, top New World Chardonnay.

Smoked fish

  • Trout Gutsy Sauvignon, such as Pouilly-Fumé from the Loire or New World examples from Chile, South Africa or New Zealand; Chablis or Alsace Riesling.
  • Kippers A good pot of strong tea or a glass of Scotch!
  • Salmon Alsace Gewürztraminer, Premier Cru Chablis, Champagne – preferably vintage. Maybe a stylish rosé during the summer.

Fish Pie

A great dish which in my view commands some attention to the wine. The short answer would be the best that one can afford. What will dictate things is the sauce and the creamier and more substantial it is the richer the wine needs to be. White Burgundy, classic names such as Meursault or Puligny, top-end white Graves, dry white Jurançon or Irouleguy, riesling from Alsace, Germany or Austria, Spätlese or full-bodied Vendange Tardive with richer sauces. Top-end dry pinot gris goes so well with anything cased in pastry or alternatively a top-end Soave, White Rhône (not too old) or an Australian marsanne. On the other end of the scale, crisper whites would also work very well, such as Muscadet, Albariño, Vinho Verde or even something English such as Camel Valley Bacchus which comes from so near the sea in Cornwall.

Fish soup (bouillabaisse)

Tavel or other Provence style rosé, white Châteauneuf, Picpoul de Pinet, Soave, Albarino from Gallicia, Mantinia from Greece.

Stir fried with lots of spices, ginger etc

Muscadet, Pinot Blanc, Australian Semillon or Riesling, young Alsace Riesling, maybe even a lighter style, dry Alsace Gewürztraminer, or my favourite young Mosel Riesling.

Swordfish (espadon)

Corsican rosé when in season, Languedoc whites like Picpoul de Pinet, Greek or Italian white or unoaked New World Chardonnay.

Trout (truite)

Riesling Kabinett from the Saar or Ruwer, Austrian Riesling, Alsace Riesling, Chablis, Sancerre, Jurançon sec, Cote de Saint Mont Sec, Soave or Lugana, top Chilean or New Zealand Sauvignon.

Tuna (thon)

Flavoury Mediterranean white from Italy, France, Greece Spain or Portugal. Strong dry rosé when in season, Australian Riesling or Semillon or maybe a full gutsy red from Southern Italy served a touch chilled.

Members' Comments (11)

"No suggestions for fish pie!"

R J Willis Esq (22-Dec-2014)

"Thank you Mr Willis - I'm not sure how we managed to overlook the fantastic fish pie. The situation has now been rectified above."

Miss Joanna Goodman (23-Dec-2014)

"Poached Sea Trout (or Salmon) - can be quite delicate warm or cold - what would you suggest?"

Mr Thomas D Farrell (03-Jul-2015)

"It does depend rather on what else you intend to include in the dish and on time of year, but I would think a good rosé would work well. A pinot-noir based pink from Sancerre or Reuilly perhaps or a Marsannay. Otherwise, for white I’d go for an unoaked chardonnay from Mâcon, a dry riesling from Alsace or the new world or a Kiwi chardonnay perhaps."

Marcel Orford-Williams (07-Jul-2015)

"What to serve with scampi provencal?"

Mr Hugh R Williams (21-Oct-2015)

"I’d opt for a full-bodied Mediterranean pink as a first choice or maybe a fresh white from Spain, like godello. A full-bodied Italian white like falanghina or Greco or a Chilled manzanilla or fino sherry would work well too."

Miss Joanna Goodman (27-Oct-2015)

"What would you recommend for a fish and chorizo stew?"

Ms Catherine Loughran (05-Nov-2015)

"I’d recommend a Mediterranean white of some sort, with flavour and grip. Curiously enough, I had something very similar last week and it worked very well with Domaine Gauby’s Calcinaires Blanc, which is available from The Society."

Mr Marcel Orford-Williams, Society Buyer (10-Nov-2015)

"Would be grateful for suggestions for a. taramasalata and b. smoked haddock? Bridget Long"

Mrs Bridget Long (13-Jul-2016)

"Any recommendations for sea bream (dorade)? The meatiness of the fish makes is quite unusual."

Mr Richard Bailey (04-May-2018)

"Yes, sea bream can have an almost meaty texture and earthy flavour sometimes. Pairing it with wine shouldn’t be too problematic, much depends, however on how you are going to serve it. Mediterranean tomato-based sauces need something with a bit of weight, for example. Provence dry whites and rosés are an obvious choice, a Picpoul de Pinet would be lovely or even a Spanish or Portuguese albariño/alvarinho. Keeping on the Med theme, vermentino with... Read more > its zesty zing would be good as would Greek white like sssyrtiko."

Miss Joanna Goodman (11-May-2018)

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