Natalie MacLean gives her picks for tasty wine-seafood pairings.

By Natalie MacLean
September 30, 2005

Natalie MacLean is currently workingon a book about wine, which will be published in the fall of 2006.She was recently named the World's Best Drink Writer at the WorldFood Media Awards in Australia and has won three James Beardjournalism awards. This year, Natalie was nominated for the MFKDistinguished Writing Award. Her free wine e-newsletter with winepicks, food matches, cellar advice, articles, and humor has beennominated as one of the best food and wine newsletters by the JamesBeard Foundation. To sign up, visit

Sautéed Snapper on Wilted Spinach with Mulled ZinfandelButter
"Often, wine choices aren't based so much on the particularfish as the sauce that accompanies it. In fact, many cultures drinkred wine with fish because of the preparation. Wine is also oftenan ingredient in fish dishes, and traditionally the same table wineis served as the wine that was used to prepare the dish―likewith like. Fetzer Vineyards Valley Oaks Zinfandel ($15) has aromasof spicy red berries that pair exceptionally well with the flavorsin this dish."

Pinot-poached Salmon with Onion Confit
"Salmon used to be poached in a white-wine bouillon andserved with a dill cream sauce. But today it's more oftenmesquite-grilled or prepared with deeper flavors, just as this dishis. Salmon is already a strong-flavored fish, and when you prepareit with additional bold flavors, the dish demands red wine. Redwines high in tannin are often a poor match because when theyinteract with the omega-3 fatty acids in fish, the wines tastemetallic. Therefore, red wines with just a touch of tannin (thesame compound in tea that makes your mouth feel furry) areexcellent choices. Pinot Noir is often the most popular among thesewines, but not all Pinot Noirs are the same―those from thehot New World wine regions can be as full-bodied as Cabernets. TryMommessin Beaujolais-Villages ($12). It is like a basket of freshraspberries and strawberries. This wine is lightly spicy withjuicy, mouthwatering acidity that's perfect for the salmon."

Roasted Cod with Tomatoes, Fumé Blanc, Raisins, andFeta
"Light white wine goes swimmingly with delicate flakywhitefish such as cod, pollock, sole, plaice, or trout. Look forwines that offer a touch of sweetness and crisp acidity that willcomplement, but not overwhelm, the subtle taste of the fish.Acidity in wine acts much like the acidity in a lemon you mightsqueeze on a fish dish: It enhances the flavors and cleanses yourpalate of any oiliness, preparing you to appreciate the next biteall the more. Ironstone Vineyards Symphony Obsession ($10), a crossbetween Muscat and Grenache Gris, offers refreshing floral aromaswith lovely citrus acidity to match the raisins and feta."

Shrimp Risotto with Pinot Grigio, Radicchio, and Peas
"Shellfish such as shrimp, lobster, and clams go well withSancerre, dry Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley, Pinot Gris fromOregon, Pinot Grigio from Italy, or cool-climate New WorldSauvignon Blancs such as those from New Zealand. These wines areoften called "green" because of their tartness―both from highacidity and from the herbal flavors and aromas. Yet they're low inalcohol, so they match the shellfish's texture. I like the CoopersCreek Sauvignon Blanc ($17). Its herbal and grassy notes areperfect for the radicchio and peas."