Picture it: A Saturday evening spent swapping stories and glances over a delectable seafood dinner and the perfect wine pairing, all while the cool coastal breezes float by. Thankfully, the opportunities to sit outside are plentiful in most seasons. So, if you’re anything like us, you’ll want to enjoy a glass of wine with your meal, especially when the weather is perfect and the food/drink pairing is ideal. Join the seafood connoisseurs at NC Seafood in Raleigh as we share the best wine to drink with seafood based on the kind of food you’re enjoying. Keep reading for our crash course in seafood wine pairings.

Rules of Pairing Wine with Seafood

Whether you’re indulging in succulent shrimp, delicate fish, or briny oysters, choosing the right wine can elevate the flavors and enhance any meal.

Consider the Flavor Intensity

When pairing wine with seafood, consider the intensity of flavors in both the dish and the wine.

For delicate and lighter seafood dishes, such as flaky white fish or delicate scallops, light-bodied wines, Pinot Grigio is the best wine to drink with seafood in this instance. Light wines are characterized by their subtle taste and nuanced flavors, which means they complement the gentle flavors of the seafood without overpowering them. We recommend varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Albariño.

When it comes to more intense seafood flavors, on the other hand, a fuller-bodied wine is the perfect pairing. Richer dishes, such as lobster bisque, seafood pasta in a creamy sauce, or grilled salmon with a smoky char, demand wines with greater depth, structure, and complexity. These varieties can hold their own against the bold flavors of the main course. You’ll often see fuller-bodied whites paired with these, like oaked Chardonnay or Viognier. The buttery notes of oak-aged Chardonnay are a good match for creamy plates, while the floral and spice notes of Viognier elevate such entrees.

An Easy Rule of Thumb for the Best Wine Pairing with Seafood

Another quick and easy rule of thumb for finding the best wine to drink with seafood is to simply match the sauce. If your seafood dish is accompanied by a sauce or seasoning, consider the dominant flavors in the sauce, and then find the wine that compliments that best. For example, a creamy seafood pasta may pair well with a rich, buttery Chardonnay, while a crisp Sauvignon Blanc will best complement a tangy ceviche.

Balance Acidity

Seafood often has a natural acidity due to where it came from (i.e. the ocean), so choose wines with a refreshing acidity to balance the flavors. Wines with higher acidity, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, can cut through the richness of seafood and cleanse your palate. Such wines also provide balance, allowing every bite to shine.

Consider Texture

The texture of both the seafood and the wine should complement each other. For lighter fare like flaky fish filets or tender shellfish, the ideal wine pairing is one that mirrors its crisp, airy texture. Think unoaked white wines renowned for their refreshing acidity and vibrant fruit flavors. Varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Albariño fit the bill here. Such options will be the best wine to drink with seafood including smoked oysters and flaky cod.

For heartier and more robust seafood dishes, look for something with more body and depth. Take swordfish steaks, for instance —this meaty dish demands a wine with enough structure and weight to stand up to its bold flavor. In this scenario, a full-bodied rosé or even a light red wine like Pinot Noir or Gamay offers vibrant fruit flavors for depth and complexity.

Regional Pairings

When all else fails, remember: location, location location. Often, dishes specific to a region pair very well with wines from the same region.

When it comes to seafood pairings, this might mean pairing Mediterranean-style seafood dishes, with the crisp and refreshing white wines of Italy and Greece. Wines such as Italian Pinot Grigio, Vermentino, or Greco di Tufo share the zest and brightness associated with Mediterranean flavors. For example, a Grenache would be the best wine to drink with seafood, such as this Mediterranean seafood platter.

The Best Wine to Drink with Seafood

As you have likely gleaned, the answer to the question of the best wine to drink with seafood doesn’t come with a straightforward answer. Just as there is a wide variety of types and flavors of seafood, there is just as much variety in the types of wines that pair best. 

Still, there are three or four varieties that continuously rank on the list of best wines to drink with seafood. 

Sauvignon Blanc

This versatile white wine is known for its vibrant acidity and crisp flavors of citrus, green apple, and tropical fruits. It pairs exceptionally well with a variety of seafood dishes, from grilled fish to shellfish and sushi.


Whether unoaked or oak-aged, Chardonnay offers a range of styles to complement different seafood preparations. Unoaked Chardonnay is fresh and lively, perfect for lighter seafood dishes, while oak-aged Chardonnay adds richness and complexity, making it an excellent match for creamy seafood sauces and buttery lobster.

Pinot Grigio

With its bright acidity and refreshing citrus notes, Pinot Grigio is an ideal companion for light and delicate seafood dishes such as shrimp scampi, grilled calamari, or seafood salads.


A dry rosé wine offers the best of both worlds with its refreshing acidity and fruit-forward flavors. It pairs well with a wide range of seafood, from raw oysters to grilled salmon, making it a versatile choice for seafood lovers. Hint: Rosé pairs equally well with fried shrimp as well as baked and stuffed mussels as it calms the otherwise succulent taste down with a refreshing, calming wine pairing.

Plates of stuffed mussels and fried shrimp on a table with glasses of rosé wine for the article titled, "The Best Wine to Drink with Seafood."

Sparkling Wine

Whether Champagne, Prosecco, or Cava, sparkling wines add a touch of elegance and effervescence to any seafood pairing. Their crisp acidity and lively bubbles cleanse the palate and enhance the flavors of caviar, shellfish, sushi, and seafood appetizers.

Honorable Mentions: Best Wine to Drink with Seafood 

If you can’t find any of the varieties of wine above, try one of these three close runners-up in the race of best wine to drink with seafood.


Hailing from Spain’s Galicia region, Albariño is a crisp and aromatic white wine with notes of peach, apricot, and citrus. It pairs beautifully with seafood tapas, grilled sardines, and seafood paella.


This Italian white wine is known for its zesty acidity, minerality, and hints of citrus and Mediterranean herbs. It complements seafood pasta dishes, grilled fish, and seafood risotto.

Grüner Veltliner

Originating from Austria, Grüner Veltliner is a versatile white wine with vibrant acidity, citrus flavors, and peppery undertones. It pairs well with shellfish, grilled shrimp, and seafood tacos.

Final Word: The Best Wine to Drink with Seafood

Finding the best wine to pair with seafood is an art form, one that requires consideration of flavors, textures, and even geography. With a bit of guidance, you can be a wine-pairing pro in no time. 

If you’re in the mood for local seafood, whether you want to enjoy it on our picnic benches or at home on the couch with your favorite rosé, NC Seafood has you covered. If you enjoyed this post, be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter below so you don’t miss out on our seafood pairing tips and recipes!

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