Salmon Wine Pairing: What Wine Goes with Salmon?

Cooking salmon at home and want to pair your favorite salmon recipe with a delicious wine? Don’t make the mistake of thinking just any white wine will pair well with your salmon. 

Even though the standard option for many home cooks is to pair a white wine with white meat and fish, and red wine with red meat, for truly the best wine with salmon — cooked a variety of ways — you’ll want to take a little more care at the wine and spirits store. In actuality, salmon goes well with reds, whites and rosés. Which is best in your case will all depend on how you’re cooking your salmon, what kind of salmon side dishes you’re serving, and your own personal wine preferences.

Wine with Grilled or Plain Salmon

When cooking and serving salmon plain — so roasted, grilled or pan-fried, but ultimately served without a sauce and lightly seasoned with just some salt and pepper, or maybe a few herbs or other spices — the wine experts at Wine Folly suggest several wine options, based on whether you want a wine that will create a “fuller, overall taste” for your meal or if you want a more delicate pairing and a wine that will act as a palate cleanser.

For a fuller taste with your salmon dish, WIne Folly suggests a Sonoma Coast or Central Coast Chardonnay from California, an aged white Rioja from Spain, or an Australian Chardonnay, among other options. Meanwhile, for a palate cleanser, you should have your salmon with Chardonnay from Burgundy or a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley.

Salmon with Red Wine

Wine for Salmon Served in a Cream Sauce

But what if you’re not serving your salmon plain? What if you’re serving your salmon in a cream-based sauce? What wine goes best with salmon in that instance?

For wine with salmon in a cream sauce, Decanter recommends an oaky Chardonnay. This is the case for any creamy, butter-based sauce, no matter if it’s a garlic and lemon sauce or something a bit more herby or even a béarnaise. 

Wine for Salmon with a Dominant Citrus Flavor

If, though, your salmon — no matter how it’s cooked — will primarily boast a strong citrus flavor, with notes of orange or lemon, you may want to go with a Napa Sauvignon Blanc. Vino Vest also recommends a Napa Sauvignon Blanc for wine pairing with salmon that will have a strong herby flavor.

Salmon with Sauvignon Blanc

Wine for Smoked Salmon

As we noted, though, it’s not just white wine that goes well with salmon, even though that’s often the misconception. If you’re serving smoked salmon, such as at brunch, as part of a bagel and lox spread or served in your favorite egg dishes, it’s time to break out the bubbly. The wine experts at Wine Folly recommend a bold and sparkling rosé. If you’re not a fan of rosé, consider pairing the smoked salmon with your favorite Champagne. 

Rose with Smoked Salmon

Wine for Crispy-Cooked Salmon

Anyone who enjoys blackened salmon or salmon cooked until the skin is crispy and dark will tell you that the fish takes on a distinct texture and flavor when cooked in this manner. As such, you might want to choose a different wine for pairing with your crispy-cooked salmon than you might if you were simply serving grilled or baked salmon. 

This type of salmon pairs well with light reds — so avoid bolder, full-bodied red wines that are known for their high tannin content. Instead, pick options like a light Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir à Jus Blanc or Grenache. 

Wine for Salmon with a Sweet Sauce or Glaze

If you plan on using a sweet sauce or glaze on your salmon — think a teriyaki ginger glaze or maple-based glaze — then you’ll want to pick your wine accordingly. A Pinot Gris or Riesling are both nice options, though a rosé will work in this situation as well.

Salmon with Riesling

Wine for Raw Salmon, Sashimi and Sushi

But, of course, the wines that work well with grilled or crispy-cooked salmon aren’t going to necessarily work well with the unique flavors and textures of raw salmon. If you’re skipping the sake and want to pair a wine with your sushi spread, opt for a rosé, white Burgundy or Champagne, says Vino Vest

Salmon Recipes That Include Wine

But why settle for just enjoying your wine on the side? Salmon pairs so well with wine that you’ll find an array of recipes that incorporate white and red wines to create sauces and sides that accompany salmon filets perfectly. Here are just a few favorites.

This simple, pan-fried salmon recipe mixes butter, garlic, white wine, lemon juice and parsley together for an easy and impressive dinner that comes together in fewer than 20 minutes.

Impress your friends and family with your in-depth knowledge of salmon and wine pairings, by showing off this red wine sauce that cooks down along with chopped scallion bulbs. Pair the salmon with a Pinot Noir from the Pacific Northwest.

If you're making a white wine sauce for your salmon, you don't necessarily need to rely on butter or cream. If creamy sauces aren’t really your thing, opt for this white wine-based sauce that pairs with tomatoes and herbs for a subtle Italian flair. 

The Perfect Pair

While you don’t want to pair your salmon with a deep, bold red wine, there are very few other rules for pairing salmon with wine. Light reds, whites and sparkling wines all go well with various types of salmon, cooked and/or seasoned just about every way. 

For more ideas for specific wines to purchase for your upcoming salmon-centric meal, check out the linked articles from wine experts like Vino Vest and Decanter below, for more specific bottles to buy. And, when it’s time for you to buy the star of your meal — the salmon — look no further than Alaskan Salmon Company. 

Wine that Goes Well with Salmon


Our Advice for Pairing Wine with Salmon (Wine Folly)

Wine With Salmon (10 Irresistible Pairing Ideas, Best Wines) (Vino Vest)

Wine with salmon: Ideas for great pairings (Decanter)

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