Cheers! Choose the Right Wine and Beer to Complement Hy-Vee Responsible Choice Seafood

Whether wine or beer, the beverage paired with Hy-Vee Responsible Choice seafood is as important to its taste as the spices and sauces used in the preparation of the fish.

Sue Navratil here:
One of my favorite seafood choices is Pacific halibut. It’s easy to prepare and has a delicate, almost sweet taste. There are many wines that go well with halibut and other white fish, but one of the best is an unoaked chardonnay.

These wines have brighter fruit, they’re not heavy and laden with oak and butter, and their fruit shines through for a clean, crisp taste.

Some other good choices:

  • Dry roses have nice acidity and a bit of fruit that will complement that bit of sweetness and delicate taste of the halibut.
  • Dry chenin blanc. When dry chenins are their best, they will have a bit of sweetness of the grape. The wine is still dry, so it leaves the palate nice and clean.
  • Beaujolais. This wine from the Beaujolais region of France has a very light body and is dry and fruity. It has more body than a dry rose and has nice fruit, but not a lot of sugar to get in the way of the flavors of the fish. It’s also a bit more delicate, so it’s nice to pair with delicate fish.

The old adage that only white wine is paired with fish isn’t necessarily true. Many white wines do accompany fish well, but so will red wines with nice acidity, a light to medium body and low tannins.

With Responsible Source-labeled salmon, tuna and some of the meatier fishes, you can get into some red wines for sure. Pinot Noir has wonderful fruit and strong acidity that make it pair well with food in general, but with fish especially well because it doesn’t have all those heavy tannins.

Chardonnays with some nice butter and oak work especially well with salmon because it’s a fairly fatty fish. When you pair them, those buttery textures in the chardonnay and the fat in the salmon are a nice complement.

Go with a California pinot noir for tuna, a dense, meaty fish. Even if it’s only seared and is still a bit rare in the center, it has a meaty texture so it can handle the heavier body and riper fruit in these wines.

Rieslings, which have a drier, clean, crisp and almost citrusy taste, are good to pair with fish prepared with wasabi or spicy Thai seasonings. A taste of sweet, cool Riesling soothes and helps correct that crazy taste sensation you get with wasabi.

Champagne is also great with any fish that’s prepared tartare.

About the Author
I’m Sue Navratil, and I am a certified specialist of wine (CWS), which I earned by passing a rigorous exam through the Society of Wine Educators. There are only seven of us in the Hy-Vee system.

I work in the North Ankeny Boulevard Hy-Vee store. I love my job. Besides getting to work every day with wine, which is my passion, I help customers learn about wine and choose wine for their events, and facilitate their events by pouring wine.

I do a monthly wine club at the store and other occasional special wine events. I also write my own personal wine blog, naviwine.blogspot.com, which features wines that are available in my store.


Brian here:
The idea of pairing is for the dish and the beer to complement each other and make a new experience. Both can be great experiences on their own, but when you pair well, you end up with a truly exceptional dining experience.

The same principles used in wine pairing apply when choosing a beer to serve with fish. The important thing is to find something complementary that will not overpower the delicate nature of the seafood.

A lot of fish is very light, with a bright flavor and often made citrusy with lemon condiments and sauces.

With lighter white fishes, I like to serve crisp wheats. Two good ones are Boulevard Wheat or Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat. Both of these American wheats are crisp and citrusy, so they lend themselves well to seafood. And they will cut through the butter, if you’re topping it with a creamy sauce, and bring out the brightness of the fish.

Pale ales, such as Sierra Nevada Pale Ale or Mirror Pond from Deschutes Brewery, are also good for delicate white fish, like Pacific halibut.

I wouldn’t move too much out of the American wheats or American pale ales. They all have that citrusy note that lends itself well to any of the seafood. If you waiver too much, the beer will be overpowering and wash out the flavor of the fish.

As you move on to heartier fish, you want to step up the depth of beer. Shellfish can handle something maltier, like an IPA. Try to match the strength of the beer with the dish. The main thing is to make sure they work together.

For more traditional pairings, porters (like Central Waters Muddy Puppy Porter) and stouts (old-world Guinness is a good one) have a rich caramel quality that accentuates the creamy aspect of the seafood. Oysters and stouts go great together.

Author: Brian Hoppe

I’m Brian Hoppe, a certified cicerone at the Iowa City No. 1 Hy-Vee, where I am also the wine and spirits manager. I am one of about 1,100 certified cicerones in the world and only one of seven in Iowa.The certification, given after a four-hour proctored test, represents the top level-certification for beer knowledge. I have worked at Hy-Vee in various capacities since 1966, and took this job about 2005. If you have questions about fish and beer pairings, email me at 1281winespiritsmgr@hy-vee.com.

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