Wonderful Wine Pairings with Salmon

Roasted and seared. Creamy and crispy. Raw and juicy.

Salmon isn’t just one of the most versatile types of fish out there. When well prepared, each bite can be more flaky and mouthwatering than the last.

Unfortunately, this fish presents a bit of a conundrum when browsing for its perfect drinking pair. 

After all, salmon’s a fish, but it’s a red fish. Does that mean it’s red meat or white meat? Should I go with a full-bodied red or a crisp sparkling white?

You’re asking all the right questions. Luckily, we’ve got the answers.

Read on to learn how to choose the perfect glass for your next flaky filet of sizzling salmon.

Wonderful Wine Pairings with Salmon

What Wines Do I Pair With Salmon?

We’ve all heard the adage — pair red meats with red wines and white meats with white wines. 

Salmon’s a fish so we’ll pair it exclusively with white wines. No-fuss! 

Well, not exactly.

In contrast to a few decades ago, most of the salmon we eat today comes from fish farms rather than the wild. This is to keep up with consumer demand and deliver a fattier filet bursting with flavor.

Because of this agricultural change (and its natural richness), salmon is a bit meatier in taste and texture compared to other popular fish like cod and tilapia. 

This means that red wines are fair game when pairing with salmon, although you likely want to steer clear of the richest, full-bodied reds in your cellar. 

The complexity of a full-bodied red clashes with the salty, flaky flavors of the fish. Pairing the two is likely only to muddy your appreciation of each.

If you’re only going to pair one wine with the vast world of salmon, your best option is going to be a delicate Pinot Noir. Bursting with more acidity than most reds, the fruity, earthy flavors of a delicious Pinot makes a natural complement to salmon’s buttery fillet.

But what if you want to get a bit more in-depth? After all, shouldn’t creamy salmon have a different natural pair than a light, baked salmon?

Now we’re talking. 

Break out your cookbooks and recipe binders because we’ve compiled a quick cheat sheet to help you pair your salmon with its perfect glass every time.

White Wine and Salmon Pairing

Raw Salmon

Often found in sushi and sashimi, well-prepared raw salmon delivers all of the nutrients found in the fish without muting any of its scrumptious natural flavors.

When working with raw salmon, reach for a crisp, punchy, citrus-forward wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc, a light Chardonnay, or even a Torrontés. The acidity in these bottles cuts through the salmon’s fattiness while the fruit and floral notes deliver an extra burst of sweet flavor.

Salmon With Crispy Skin

Equally rich, meaty, and flaky, crispy salmon makes a deceptively simple dinner entreé. Simply place your salmon skin down in a medium-hot pan with vegetable oil and sear until the fish is cooked yet still juicy.

Before you dig in, pour yourself a glass of light red like our Maison Louis Girard Beaujolais-Villages or even a rosé. The low tannin count in these bottles prevents the wine from overpowering the fish and gives your taste buds a front-row seat to the juicy flavors that crispy salmon has in store.

Roasted Salmon With Cream Sauce

Whether you’re working with a rich béarnaise drizzle, a cucumber yogurt sauce, or a peppery caper glaze, you can’t go wrong when you cook up a creamy salmon dish. The fattiness of your chosen sauce transforms this fishy fillet into a full-on treat, with a burst of rich flavor in each bite.

To match the creaminess of the sauce, look towards a buttery oaked Chardonnay or a Trebbiano blend from Sicily. 

Baked Salmon

Marinating in lemon juice and sizzling in its own flavor, baked salmon is a simple, hands-off approach to a protein-packed supper. Simply wrap your salmon in tin foil, bake for ten to fifteen minutes, and voila! 

You’ve got rich, effortless, meaty fish.

For a simple baked salmon, reach for a rosé made using the saignée method. These are usually a bolder choice than your average rosé, providing an audacious pair to your new simple go-to dish.

Smoked Salmon

Whether you’re cooking up a flaky fillet on Christmas morning or looking for a more substantial spread on your bagel, smoked salmon is a great option for adding a hickory kick to your palate.

If you’re working with a classic smoked salmon adorned with tart lemon, savory capers, and sharp onion, reach for a Riesling or a light Chardonnay. The acidic qualities of these wines complement the salty qualities of the fish and provide a bit of respite to your palate from the sharp spices.

Teriyaki Salmon

Salmon makes a natural canvas for this sweet and spicy sauce. Wasabi and teriyaki glaze is often drizzled over the fish to give it an extra spicy kick, along with tasteful sprinklings of garlic, ginger, and jalapeño.

To cut some spice, opt for a crisp, acidic wine like a Riesling or a Pinot Gris. Not only will this help you more fully appreciate the complexity of the spices involved, but it will add a fruity dimension to a dish brimming with powerful flavors.

Wine and Salmon Pairing

Find Your Perfect Pair With Wine Insiders

So, answering the question, “What wine goes with salmon?” is a bit more complicated than simply pouring yourself a chilled white.

Sure, white wines are still generally a safe bet when it comes to pairing other white meats like fish and chicken, though salmon proves a notable exception. 

This versatile fish can be prepared in dozens of different ways and each deserves thought and consideration in choosing the perfect wine pair. 

Browse our blog for more delicious, complex food pairings and discover the best wine with a salmon special.

No matter how you like your salmon, use our code WINE101 for an extra 30% off your order and ensure that you always have the right bottle on hand.