15 No-Fail Seafood & Wine Pairings

What's the best wine for any meal? The one you like. Scroll through Food Editor Julia Rutland's favorite combos for easy inspiration.

Pacific Halibut

Photographer: Randy Mayor

White Fish

Recipe: Grilled Pacific Halibut with Rhubarb Compote and Balsamic Strawberries

Try it with: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Semillon

Julia loves: Gewürztraminer from Anderson Valley’s Navarro Vineyards, about $19

While halibut pairs well with many white wines and a few light reds, this recipe features a bit of sweetness with the strawberries and compote. Find a white with a touch of sweetness to match the dish.

Sesame-Soy Salmon

Photographer: Becky Luigart-Stayner


Recipe: Sesame-Soy Salmon

Try it with: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, vin gris

Julia loves: Franciscan Oakville Estate Chardonnay, about $16, or Esser Vineyard Pinot Noir, about $14

Salmon is one of the easiest fish to pair wines with because it’s great with both white and red wines. Go for a buttery Chardonnay to match the richness of the fish, or a smooth Pinot Noir.

Boiled Dungeness Crab with Fennel

Photographer: Becky Luigart-Stayner


Recipe: Boiled Dungeness Crab with Fennel

Try it with: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, sake, brut sparkling wine

Julia loves: 2007 Greg Norman Estates Santa Barbara County Chardonnay, about $15

Crabmeat has an inherent sweetness. You don’t want to overpower its delicate flavor with a high-acid white wine or a mouth-puckering, tannic red.

Grilled Split Lobster with Pesto

Photographer: Sara Gray


Recipe: Grilled Split Lobster with Pesto

Try it with: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, brut sparkling wine

Julia loves: Matanzas Creek Winery’s Sonoma Valley Chardonnay, about $27

Both the lobster and sauce are rich, so go for a well-balanced Chardonnay, or an herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc that marries well with the pesto.

Coconut Shrimp with Maui Mustard

Photographer: Howard L. Puckett


Recipe: Coconut Shrimp with Maui Mustard

Try it with: Pinot Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Columbard

Julia loves: J Vintage brut sparkling wine from California’s Russian River Valley, about $30

A wide variety of white wines (and beer, too!) will be great with this festive appetizer.

Mussels in Tomato-Basil Wine Sauce

Photographer: Jean Allsopp


Recipe: Mussels in Tomato-Basil Wine Sauce

Try it with: Verdicchio, Pinot Grigio, or Bardolino

Julia loves: Donnafugata Chiarandà, Contessa Entellina DOC, Sicily, about $35

Absolutely not required, but consider pairing the ethnicity of the food to the wine.


Clams with Prosciutto and Thyme


Recipe: Clams with Prosciutto and Thyme

Try it with: Sauvignon Blanc, sparkling wine

Julia loves: Sauvignon Republic Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, about $18

This dish has been one of my all-time favorites, so I pair it with a wine I enjoy drinking anytime.

Tuna Tartare Blini

Photographer: Becky Luigart-Stayner


Recipe: Tuna Tartare Blini

Try it with: Champagne, sparkling wine

Julia loves: Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle, about $105 (for a budget-friendly buy, try a value-priced Prosecco.)

I can think of nothing else I’d rather drink with this divine combination of melt-in-your-mouth tuna and caviar than a good bubbly.

Broiled Oysters with Celery Cream and Virginia Ham


Recipe: Broiled Oysters with Celery Cream and Virginia Ham

Try it with: Chardonnay, white Burgundy

Julia loves: Anderson’s Conn Valley Chardonnay, about $45

Bathed in cream and seasoned with Virginia ham, this dish needs a full-bodied white.

Pan-seared Scallops

Photographer: Howard L. Puckett


Recipe: Pan-seared Scallops with Asparagus and Pancetta

Try it with: Sancerre, Chardonnay

Julia loves: 2005 Domaine André Neveu Sancerre, about $30

Asparagus is often tricky with wine, but the combination of sweet scallops and salty/smoky pancetta will stand out with a medium- to full-bodied white.

Simple Nori Rolls

Photographer: Jean Allsopp


Recipe: Simple Nori Rolls

Try it with: brut sparkling wine, Pinot Gris, sake

Julia loves: 2004 Iron Horse Russian Cuvée sparkling wine, about $33

If you pair wine with sushi, avoid wasabi. If you are a hothead when it comes to sushi, try beer.

Crab and Coconut Risotto with Mango

Photographer: Rick Wetherbee


Recipe: Crab and Coconut Risotto with Mango

Try it with: Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, dry Reisling

Julia loves: Wild Horse Viognier Central Coast, about $19

A dry white wine might taste a little flat with the sweet coconut and mango flavors in this dish. Try a fruity or aromatic white.

Maryland Crab Cake Salad

Photographer: Jean Allsopp

Seafood Salads

Recipe: Maryland Crab Cake Salad

Try it with: an herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc or Viognier

Julia loves: Kim Crawford Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, about $15

Ask for help at your local wine shop--in general, salads are tough to pair (it’s the acid in the vinegar).

Nantucket Lobster Chowder

Photographer: Jean Allsopp

Seafood Soup

Recipe: Nantucket Lobster Chowder

Try it with: Chardonnay

Julia loves: Bonterra Vineyards’ Mendocino County Chardonnay, about $14

This soup is rich and buttery, so pair a similar wine.

Paella Cubana

Photographer: Howard L. Puckett

Spicy Seafood

Recipe: Paella Cubana

Try it with: Albariño, red or white Rioja

Julia loves: Martín Códax Albariño Rías Baixas, about $14

This paella has plenty of cool spice, so go for a fruit-forward or semi-dry white.

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