Top pairings | What's the best wine pairing for tuna?

Top pairings

What's the best wine pairing for tuna?

If you want a simple guideline as to which wine to pair with tuna think first about the way that it’s cooked - is it rare, seared or preserved (canned or bottled)? Then think of the style of the dish. Does it incorporate Japanese flavours? Are there other ingredients on the plate that might influence the match such as a citrussy glaze or salsa?

That said it's a meaty fish which adapts just as well to a red wine as to a white.

Wine with tuna quick guide:

  • Raw tuna: Chilled sake or a very dry white (e.g. Chablis)
  • Seared tuna: A light red (e.g. Chinon) or Spanish rosé
  • Grilled tuna: Syrah or Barbera
  • Canned tuna: Dry Italian white (e.g. Verdicchio) or Provençal rosé

Of course, it all depends on the dish. Read on for my favourite wine pairings for tuna you might like to try.

Popular ways of serving tuna and the wines to go with them

Seared tuna
A light red or strong dry southern French or Spanish rosé is perfect with seared tuna - a Loire red such as a Chinon or Bourgueil or a light red burgundy if it’s simply seasoned, a fruitier New World Pinot Noir if you’re giving it a spicier treatment. If it's chargrilled on the barbecue and served rare like a steak you can bring on a beefier red such as a Syrah or Barbera.

Seared tuna with sesame and Elephant Hill Syrah

Raw or near-raw tuna e.g. sashimi. tuna tartare
Popular in Japanese-style dishes so may well include Japanese ingredients with a touch of sweetness such as mirin or Japanese rice vinegar. I personally enjoy chilled sake with this style of presentation but a very dry white such as a Chablis, Muscadet-sur-lie or Grüner Veltliner also works well as does, more surprisingly, a lush white grenache

Tuna tataki and grenache blanc

Tuna tartare with wasabi aioli and grüner veltliner

Tuna carpaccio
Sliced raw tuna, often dressed with olive oil and lemon juice. It's light and delicate so needs a wine that doesn't overpower the fish. Similar pairings to tuna tartare work here, particularly a mineral-driven dry white. You could also go for a light bodied Pinot Grigio or even champagne. 

Glazed tuna with citrus e.g. with yuzu or lime and coriander
Still possible to serve a light red (citrus will accentuate its fruitiness) but you might also want to consider a fruity white such as a Semillon-Sauvignon blend, an oaked Sauvignon Blanc, a Verdelho or a dry Riesling.

Salads with tinned or bottled tuna e.g. salade Niçoise, tonno e fagioli
Something quite light and quaffable. A inexpensive dry Italian white such as a Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi or a dry Provençal rosé such as a Bandol rosé

Salade niçoise and rosé

Tuna pasta bake
Not my favourite way of eating tuna, if truth be told, but as it’s creamy and slightly cheesy an unoaked or lightly oaked Chardonnay should hit the spot.

Photo ©petrrgoskov at

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Comments: 3 (Add)

jmwmacd on July 20 2021 at 18:17

Akemi is a white Rioja made with Viura/Macabeo, and it is a fantastic partner for raw or very rare tuna.
Félix Jiménez is a Spanish chef who trained in Japan, and when he returned to Logroño to open his own Japanese restaurant, he worked with Rioja winemakers to craft something that would pair with sushi. Akemi is the result, and it's really lovely.

Antonio @ WineAndOtherStories on September 11 2019 at 19:27

Hello Fiona! Tuna is perhaps my favourite fish, I love it! I'm always curious to find the proper wine matching for every preparation. Your article gives excellent recommendations. Some months ago I made a little experiment - It would be great to hear your thoughts:

Germain Lehodey on May 8 2013 at 12:58

i like your pairing approach.
great Germain

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