Wine & Food: Pairing Wine with Salmon
Salmon is one of the healthiest meal choices, and we eat a lot of it in the UK. Organic salmon would be our preferred choice, it is lighter in colour as the salmon feed does not contain the brighter orange dye. However, all salmon is rich in protein and minerals and has especially high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids which are particularly beneficial.
Salmon is a delicious and unique fish, but one that can be tricky to pair with wine. It generally requires a lighter wine than white meat, but something richer than white fish.
Not sure what wine goes with salmon? Don’t panic! Below, we’ve got everything you need to know to serve the best wine with salmon. By the time you reach the end of this page, you’ll know which is the right wine for salmon, no matter how you enjoy your fish.
Pairing Wine with Salmon: The Secret is the Preparation
When looking to pair wine with salmon, the deciding factor is the way the salmon is prepared.
For example, let’s say you enjoy a nice steamed salmon steak with a spritz of lemon or lime. The flavours of the steamed salmon will be much lighter than you’d get from a salmon served with cream sauce.
First you should think about how you want to enjoy the salmon—sauce or no sauce, steamed, roasted, smoked, etc.—then you have to think about what wine goes with salmon the way you’ve ordered or cooked it.
Alternatively (if you’re like us), you might sometimes have a special bottle of wine and want to choose the best style of salmon dish to match the wine!
Do this, and your salmon and wine pairing will be a match made in heaven!
For Plain Salmon
When we say “plain” salmon, we’re not talking about salmon thrown into a pan with no flavouring.
However, the term “plain” refers to salmon that is prepared with very little in the way of spices and herbs.
Usually, “plain” salmon is slow-roasted in the oven, often covered with tin foil to bring out the juiciness of the fish. It’s garnished with a bit of parsley, some salt and pepper, or perhaps a squeeze of lemon or lime. The added flavours are fairly mild, which allows the flavour of the salmon to shine through.
This is one of the most common ways of serving salmon, meaning it’s one of the most popular for a wine pairing. So how can you choose the wine with salmon prepared plainly?
- Light Chardonnay
Chardonnay goes with many different ways of serving salmon, but they key is to get the right style. For simple salmon like this, go for an unoaked Chablis. Coming from northern Burgundy, this has enough flavour to match the fish, but won’t overwhelm it.
- European Sauvignon Blanc
Herbaceous whites such as Sauvignon have subtler green herbal notes that pair beautifully with the simple flavours of plain salmon. They act more as a palate cleanser after each bite of rich fish. You could try New Zealand Sauvignon such as Walnut Block ‘Nutcracker’ Sauvignon Blanc, which is elegant and restrained, but some other New World options may be overly aromatic.
We highly recommend the Horsmonden Dry White.
Horsmonden Dry White
This wine comes from Sussex, England, and has an excellent freshness and citrus flavour to balance out the richness of the salmon. It’s light to medium-bodied, making it perfect for plain salmon!
For Roasted Salmon
Roasted salmon is rich, flavourful, and one of our favourite ways to enjoy this elegant fish.
It’s often paired with a cream sauce heavy on the herbal and lemon flavours:
- Lemon dill sauce
For a roasted salmon topped with sauce, you want a wine that is smooth and full. Fuller-bodied Chardonnay is probably the best white wine for salmon served with a sauce, but other oaked whites can work well too.
We have two recommendations we believe you’ll love:
Brau Chardonnay Finement Boisé is a Languedoc wine that’s easily on par with pricier Burgundy wines, and it has that elegance that makes Chardonnay the perfect choice to serve with roasted salmon.
Domaine de Brau Chardonnay Finement Boisé IGP Pays d’Oc
Stellar River’s End Chenin Blanc is the top white wine from the excellent Stellar estate in South Africa.
Rivers End Chenin Blanc
They choose only the best Chenin Blanc grapes and age the wine in oak for a soft, full flavour that is delicious with salmon.
For Smoked Salmon
Smoked salmon makes for amazing canapés and appetisers.
It’s usually served with bread or crackers, cheese, and salty capers.
To find the best white wine with salmon that’s smoked, we recommend wines with plenty of acidity to cut the saltiness of the smoked salmon and its companion ingredients.
Sparkling wines, bold roses, and more acidic whites are perfect.
One of our most popular whites, the Collectables Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, is an excellent choice. It’s a New Zealand wine with vivid flavours, crisp acidity, and a luscious, smooth mouth-feel. It’s soft and mellow—perfect for pairing with salty salmon.
Walnut Block – Collectables Sauvignon Blanc
For something a bit special, try the Barone Pizzini ‘Animante’ Franciacorta from Italy, one of our favourite sparkling wines
Franciacorta Brut ‘Animante’ Barone Pizzini
For Grilled Salmon
Grilled salmon will have a stronger flavour than most other types of salmon, and can stand up to red wines.
The smokier notes of the grilled salmon are an ideal pairing for a Pinot Noir, which brings earthy and savoury notes that will balance out the flavours.
For Teriyaki Salmon
Teriyaki salmon combines the richness of the salmon meat with the sweetness of a teriyaki sauce.
The sugar, honey, or pineapple juice used in the teriyaki glaze makes the salmon sweeter than normal, meaning you have to find the right wine to pair with the meat.
The Pratello Rielsing is a good choice for teriyaki salmon, thanks to its dryness and apple and lemon flavours.
IGT Benaco Bresciano Riesling
However, for a teriyaki that’s not quite as sweet, we’ve come to love the Adobe Gewurztraminer from Chile.
Adobe Gewurztraminer Reserva
It’s beautifully aromatic, with hints of candied citrus and orange blossoms. If you’re having a teriyaki salmon heavy on the citrus flavours, this is the wine we recommend.
For Crispy Skin Salmon
Salmon skin crisps up wonderfully, giving it an almost bacon-like texture that makes the rich, meatiness of the flesh stand out even more.
The salmon will literally flake apart as you cut into it!
With this type of fish, you want to find a wine that has a bit of acidity—enough to cut through the oiliness of the fish and crispy skin without being overpowering. Rosé wine is a good option, though some people prefer a Pinot Gris.
We recommend the Picpoul de Pinet, a Mediterranean wine that’s fresh, dry, and has lovely citrus and nut notes.
AOC Coteaux du Languedoc Picpoul de Pinet
There’s just enough lemon to cut the fatty flavours of the salmon, but the juicy pear gives it a bit more body.
Red Wine with Salmon
It’s a bit harder to find a red wine that pairs with salmon. The richness of the wine can overwhelm the salmon flavour if you’re not careful.
We’ve found that the best red wine for salmon is anything with less tannins. Low-tannin wines—like Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, or light Valpolicella—will pair nicely with the fish, but without overwhelming your palate with a metallic taste.
These are just a few of our recommendations for the best wine with salmon choices, but you’ll find there are MANY wines that can pair beautifully with this rich, fatty fish. All you have to do is remember to pair the wine with salmon according to its preparation, and you’re in for a treat.
What did you think of these wine and salmon pairings? Do you have any recommendations you think would be ideal for serving with salmon? Leave a comment below and let us know!