What’s the best wine match for seafood?
PUBLISHED: 15:01 14 May 2018
Jeremy Dunn of Norfolk Wine School shares his recommendations.
There’s nothing better than a delicious glass of fresh, white wine and some simple seafood fresh from the sea. Most seafood is light in both flavour and texture and if simply poached or lightly cooked, a light-bodied white wine is the obvious choice. Meatier, firmer fish or fish that’s been char-grilled or fried will often taste better when paired with a fuller bodied white wine, a rosé, or even a light red.
With simple dressed Cromer Crab, a fresh, zesty light white wine will ensure that you bring out the best of the delicate, slightly sweet, flesh. A lemony Muscadet from the Loire Valley in France would work well. Try the Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine Sur Lie 2016 sold under ALDI’s ‘Exquisite Collection’ label - a steal at just £5.69.
One of the principles of food and wine pairing is to match local produce with local wine, so my favourite pairing with Cromer crab is a local Norfolk wine, the Flint Vineyard Bacchus 2017, available from Harper Wells on Ber St in Norwich, £17. The wine has a deliciously crisp elderflower character together with citrussy flavours and fresh acidity. It’s very versatile and works wonders with a fresh crab and local asparagus salad and has also enough oomph to cope with a crab sandwich served on thick white bread with a touch of creamy mayonnaise.
The richness of lobster, especially when served traditionally with buttery or creamy sauces, demands a fuller bodied white wine. While the traditional match is a Chardonnay, (French White Burgundy is a very common choice) I was impressed by the weight and texture of a wine I discovered while researching our Tapas & Wine event, a full-bodied oak-aged white Rioja. The Marques de Los Rios Rioja Blanco Reserva 2013, is available from Morrison’s at £13, and has delicious baked apple fruit with creamy and nutty flavours which perfectly complement a more complex lobster dish.
Fish and chip shops are missing a trick by not selling bubbly. If your fish is fried, then there’s no better match than a chilled glass of Champagne or sparkling wine. The freshness and acidity in sparkling wine cuts through the fat or oil and helps cleanse the palate, ready for the next delicious mouthful. Choose a fuller-bodied style that has enough weight to balance the batter (and chips) and you’ll create an amazing combination. I know it’s decadent but Pol Roger’s Brut Reserve NV Champagne, widely available at around £45, is the ultimate indulgence with cod and chips.
Firmer, more meaty fish often work well with a light-bodied red wine. Don’t choose a red wine with too much tannin (that’s what makes your mouth go all dry and furry) but a light, fresh, fruity red wine that has just enough body to cope with a firmer texture as well as creating a fruity contrast to a more savoury fish. The Saint Clair Pioneer Block Pinot Noir 2015, Marlborough, New Zealand available at Majestic Wine, £18.99, when you mix six, has crunchy redcurrant fruit and a little spice and complexity from a touch of oak which is made for a well-seasoned griddled tuna steak served with potato salad.
Norfolk Wine School hosts regular food and wine workshops, including Fizz ‘n’ Chips Friday tastings. If you would like to know more about local Norfolk and English wines, including how to pair them with food, join us on Thursday, JUne 21 and meet Flint Vineyard winemaker, Ben Witchell, at our Midsummer’s English Wine Tasting. Ben will share his unique story with us and tutor guests through a couple of his delicious wines.
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