Best Salmon Wine Pairings for Different Preparations of the Fish
Recipes Salmon Wine Pairing

Best Wine Pairing For Any Kind Of Salmon

March 18, 2024 at 12:26 PM PST

Salmon is a versatile fish that can be paired with a variety of wines depending on how it’s prepared and seasoned. If you are hosting a special dinner and want the perfect-salmon wine pairing or you are deciding on the right wine to bring to one, do not just go pick up the nicest bottle of any wine you see. The key is to look for crisp, acidic wines that can cut through the richness of the salmon while not overwhelming the delicate flavor of the fish. Here are some of the nicest salmon wine pairings based on different ways of preparing the fish.

Pairing Salmon With Red Wine

When looking for the best salmon wine pairings, you have probably seen many wine connoisseurs advise against red wine with salmon. However, the idea that red wine doesn’t pair well with salmon is more of a guideline than a hard rule. While it’s true that certain red wines can overwhelm the delicate flavor of salmon, it’s not universally true for all red wines or all salmon preparations.

Why is never pairing red wine with salmon even a thing? Mainly because many red wines, especially those with high tannin levels like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah, can clash with the delicate flavor and texture of salmon. Tannins can create a bitter or astringent sensation on the palate, which can overwhelm the fish’s subtle taste.

Other reasons include that some red wines, particularly those with lower acidity levels, may lack the necessary brightness to balance the richness of salmon. High-acid reds like Sangiovese or Barbera might fare better in this regard. Additionally, the flavors of certain red wines, such as bold and robust Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec, can overshadow the more delicate taste of salmon, making the wine-food pairing feel unbalanced.

However, do not immediately write out red wine with salmon as there are exceptions to this guideline. Lighter-bodied red wines with lower tannins and higher acidity, such as Pinot Noir or Grenache, can actually pair quite well with certain preparations of salmon, especially when the fish is grilled or smoked. Additionally, personal taste preferences play a significant role in wine pairing. So if someone enjoys the combination of a particular red wine with salmon, there’s no reason not to embrace it.

6 Best Salmon-Wine Pairings

In the end, while red wine may not be the traditional or default choice for pairing with salmon, there’s room for experimentation and enjoyment when it comes to food and wine pairing. Here are some of the most popular wine choices to pair with salmon.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a classic choice for salmon because its light to medium body and bright acidity complement the fish without overpowering it. Look for Pinot Noirs from Oregon or California for a great match. Pinot Noir specifically pairs great with Atlantic salmon. This is one of the most common types of salmon found in markets with its mild, buttery flavor and tender texture.


Chardonnay, particularly unoaked or lightly oaked versions, can pair nicely with salmon. Its buttery texture and flavors of apple and citrus can enhance the richness of the fish. Try also pairing this wine with Atlantic salmon.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc, especially those from cooler climates like New Zealand or France’s Loire Valley, offers crisp acidity and herbal notes that can cut through the oiliness of salmon and provide a refreshing contrast. Try pairing it with a wild-caught Pacific salmon such as sockeye or coho. Why this salmon wine pairing? Wild-caught Pacific salmon varieties tend to have a more pronounced flavor compared to Atlantic salmon. They are often firmer in texture and have a slightly stronger taste. The crisp acidity and herbal notes of Sauvignon Blanc can complement the bold flavor of wild-caught Pacific salmon.


A dry rosé, with its versatility and refreshing acidity, can be a delightful pairing with salmon, especially during warmer months. Look for rosés with bright fruit flavors and a dry finish. Also try this wine with wild-caught Pacific salmon as the dry rose can balance the richness of the fish nicely.


For those who prefer white wine with a touch of sweetness, an off-dry Riesling can be an excellent choice. Its acidity can balance the richness of salmon, and the hint of sweetness can complement any marinades or glazes used on the fish. Grilled salmon and riesling is a great salmon wine pairing. Grilled salmon has a charred exterior and a moist, flaky interior and an off-dry Riesling can balance the charred notes of the grilled salmon with its acidity and hint of sweetness.

Sparkling Wine

Champagne or other sparkling wines can be a surprising yet delightful pairing with salmon. The effervescence and acidity can cleanse the palate between bites and enhance the overall dining experience. This makes these wines the perfect pairing with smoked salmon. Smoked salmon has a distinct smoky flavor and a firmer texture compared to fresh salmon. However, sparkling wine can cut through the richness of smoked salmon and provide a refreshing contrast.



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