Pairing Wine with Salmon

Vintage Roots

Salmon is a delicious and unique fish, and when it comes to salmon with wine, it can pair with a variety of wines depending on how it’s cooked and served. 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 about pairing wine with salmon. By the time you reach the end of this page, you’ll know which is the right wine for salmon, cooked in variety of ways.

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!

Wine Pairings for Plain Oven Cooked Salmon

wine with salmon - oven cooked/plain salmon and wine pairings, a photo of cooked 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 or herbs, some salt and pepper, or perhaps a squeeze of lemon or lime. It’s probably how most of us cook salmon at home. 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. This organic Petit Chablis from Domaine Goulley would work wonders.

Another good choice for Chardonnay would be this unoaked golden coloured example from Domaine Bousquet in Argentina.

Original price was: £12.95.Current price is: £11.95.

European Sauvignon Blanc

Herbaceous whites such as Sauvignon Blanc 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. A solid option would be the Brochet Facile Sauvignon Blanc, which quite suitably has a fish on the label.

You could try New Zealand Sauvignon such as Walnut Block Sauvignon Blanc, which is elegant and restrained, but some other New World options may be overly aromatic. It also depends what you’re serving your salmon with, salmon and asparagus for example could be very well suited to any Sauvignon Blanc.

Another good option would be the Horsmonden Dry White from Sussex, England. This wine 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!

While whites are often mentioned when it comes to wine and salmon pairings, we also shouldn’t forget about pink/rosé wines. It’s not just the pink colour of salmon that matches rosé wine, but their flavours can match wonderfully too! A reliable choice would be the Mas de Longchamp Rhone Rosé.

Wine Pairings for Roasted Salmon with Creamier Sauces

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
  • Hollandaise
  • Béarnaise

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 or fuller bodied whites can work well too.

We have two recommendations we believe you’ll love for salmon made with creamier sauces.

Domaine Bousquet Reserve Chardonnay is an Argentinian 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.

For another fuller-bodied Chardonnay for salmon, go for the Paul Mas Cuvée Secrète Chardonnay, a no sulphur added Chardonnay that also has 15% of the blend aged in oak.

Wine Pairings for Smoked Salmon

wine with salmon - oven cooked/plain salmon and wine pairings, a photo of smoked salmon canapes

Smoked salmon makes for amazing canapés and appetisers. It’s usually served with bread or crackers, cheese, and sometimes 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 (Champagne is a classic choice), bold rosés, and more acidic whites are perfect. For a great all round fizz for smoked salmon, Giol’s lightly sparkling and elegant Prosecco Frizzante is a great choice.

If you’re after a Champagne for your smoked salmon, you can’t go wrong with Champagne Faust’s classic Carte d’Or.

For Sauvignon Blanc fans, one of our most popular whites, the Collectables Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, is an excellent choice for smoked salmon too. It’s a New Zealand wine with vivid flavours, crisp acidity, and a luscious, smooth mouthfeel—perfect for pairing with salty salmon.

For something a bit special, try the Barone Pizzini ‘Animante’ Franciacorta from Italy, one of our favourite sparkling wines

Wine Pairings 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 or Gamay/Beaujolais would brings earthy and savoury notes that will balance out the flavours. This unoaked Pinot Noir is a real delight that would be a wonderful match for grilled salmon.

Wine Pairings 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 Beetle Riesling Trocken Qualitätswein is a good choice for teriyaki salmon, thanks to its dryness and apple and lemon flavours.

However, for a teriyaki that’s not quite as sweet, we’ve come to love the Adobe Gewurztraminer from Chile. 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. We recommend the Petit Roubie Picpoul de Pinet, a Mediterranean wine that’s fresh, dry, and has lovely citrus and nut notes. A classic seafood wine, there’s just enough lemon to cut the fatty flavours of the salmon, but the juicy pear gives it a bit more body.

Red and Rosé Wines 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 or Frappato—will pair nicely with the fish, but without overwhelming your palate with a metallic taste.

Also don’t forget about rosés, like we said above. Rosé wines are most often dry and fruity with just enough acidity to be an ideal match for a wide variety of salmon dishes.

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!

sign up image


You may also like...

What is a Wine Spritzer and How to Make it?

15 Whites & Rosés to Try This Summer

Top 7 Organic Wine Brands To Try This Summer