Top pairings | 12 great wine pairings with salmon

Top pairings

12 great wine pairings with salmon

Salmon is in many ways the chicken of the fish world - an ingredient you can serve in many different ways and therefore match with a number of different wines.

That said, it's a rich fish, often served with cream or butter and therefore a natural candidate to pair with a medium-to-full-bodied white wine such as chardonnay. But nowadays it's often served raw or grilled which opens to the door to many other wine pairings. Read on for my wine pairing suggestions:

Wine pairing with salmon at a glance

  • Best with raw salmon: Gruner veltiner or dry rosé
  • Best with grilled salmon: Pinot noir
  • Best with poached salmon: Chablis
  • Best with blackened salmon: Merlot
  • Best with salmon teriyaki: Pinot Noir
  • Best with smoked salmon: Champagne

12 favourite ways to serve salmon and the wines to pair with them

Raw salmon such as salmon sashimi or tartare

Try a crisp fresh white such as a gruner veltliner or a dry rosé - a surprisingly good match with salmon sashimi as I discovered here.

Salmon ceviche

As much about the zesty marinade as the fish itself. Torrontes from Argentina is a good pairing or - an unusual match but one I found worked well a while back - a Soave from Italy

Cold poached salmon with mayonnaise or a salmon terrine

Chablis is an incredibly reliable pairing for this kind of dish but other crisp dry whites like Pinot Grigio, Albarino, Sancerre or a crisp Chenin Blanc will match well too.

Warm salmon with a hollandaise or beurre blanc sauce

A classic salmon dish that matches well with a good quality oak-aged (but not too oaky) Chardonnay. White burgundy would be lovely. See also this pairing of salmon with leeks and chardonnay

Salmon en croute or fish pies with salmon

Again likely to be rich and creamy so Chardonnay should again hit the spot or try an old vine Chenin Blanc. See also this delicious recipe for salmon in pastry with currants and ginger.

Salmon en Papillote

Salmon en Papillot involves salmon fillets baked in parchment paper along with vegetables, herbs, and perhaps a splash of white wine. The steaming effect in the papillote results in richly flavoured dish, best suited to a buttery, oak-aged Chardonnay.

Salmon fishcakes or salmon hash

Chardonnay again (this is getting boring but it is the most reliable wine pairing with salmon!). But a sparkling wine like Cava - or even champagne - can be good too with salmon fishcakes. For more ideas see my post on best wines for fishcakes.

Seared or grilled salmon

Here’s where things get interesting. Because salmon is a meaty fish if you grill or char it you can pair it with a red. Pinot Noir is my favourite match but a Gamay would rub along happily too. If you prefer a white try a dry Pinot Gris.

wine pairing with seared or grilled salmon

Blackened or barbecued salmon

If you cook salmon with Cajun- or Creole-style spicing it can handle a more robust red still. Try a Merlot or a Zinfandel

Salmon teriyaki or yakitori

A fruity Pinot Noir is also a good wine match with Japanese style dishes such as salmon teriyaki or yakitori. Sake or fino sherry would be a good pairing too.

Tandoori salmon

With Indian spicing I’d be inclined to go for a white such as a dry riesling or pinot gris rather than a red. See this recipe for yoghurt and spice roasted salmon for inspiration. Or read about this surprising fino sherry pairing.

Smoked Salmon

Champagne is the classic wine pairing for smoked salmon but I tend to prefer lighter, crisper whites like Sancerre or Chablis. Learn more in my top 10 drink pairings with smoked salmon.

Your wine with salmon questions answered

Can red wine pair with salmon? 

Yes, red wine can pair with salmon, particularly lighter and more delicate reds like Pinot Noir. The key is to choose a red wine that won't overpower the salmon's flavor. Pinot Noir, with its subtle fruit notes and mild tannins, complements the richness of the fish without overwhelming it, making it a suitable choice for dishes like grilled or roasted salmon.

How should one adjust wine choices for salmon served in various cuisines, like Japanese or Scandinavian?

For international salmon dishes, consider the dish's flavour profile and choose a wine that complements those flavours, such as a Riesling for a sweet and sour Asian salmon dish.

Can the fat content and texture of different salmon cuts influence the selection of wine?

Fattier salmon cuts like belly pair well with richer wines, while leaner cuts may benefit from lighter, more acidic wines.

Are there any non-alcoholic drink pairings for salmon you can recommend?

Go for something refreshing that won't overpower the delicate flavour of the salmon. For example: herbal teas such as green tea or chamomile, or sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon.

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Comments: 11 (Add)

john burns on December 6 2023 at 18:42

I recently discovered Salmon done in a parchment parcel. butter Garlic, wine etc can be added and the edges folded over and sealed with the handle of a knife or similar to fold it really tight. then done at high heat for a short time - 8 mins? Done right it steams the fish and leaves it beautifully tender. Foil tends to dry it out and overdo it. see here As to wine I once ate fresh sea trout with a light Burgundy and that was delicious!

Pep Daniels on March 19 2022 at 11:47

I'm loving this site, even the misguided comments and the overtly promotional ones, which serve to emphasise the liberal and informed nature of the rest of the content. Personally, I like the simplicity of salmon topped with a nob of butter and baked in a foil parcel, washed down with a room temperature, heavily oaked Australian chardonnay - not a style I normally drink otherwise.

Peter F. on November 13 2021 at 16:24

Would you please add Baked Salmon to your list? I am baking a three-pound salmon filet with a sour cream and coriander crust.

Fiona Beckett on February 28 2021 at 08:47

Wow - that's a really interesting suggestion!

Diderot on February 27 2021 at 20:59

Try salmon topped with blackberries and poached with Zinfandel. Add toasted almond slices to top it off, and enjoy the rest of the Zin with the fish.

Charlie Stricklen on January 9 2020 at 22:00

Also, Bill, depending on the mismatch, the wine often suffers more than the food.

Charlie Stricklen on January 9 2020 at 21:56

Bill Gould, a wine is paired with a meal; not with a type of fish or meat or poultry. Pinot Noir is often nice with salmon, but would you really drink it with salmon prepared with a creamy sauce or a lemon-garlic recipe?

Bill Gould on August 19 2019 at 13:25

You must have unusual taste buds. The wine for salmon is Pinot Noir. Ref. Red wine with fish. by Josh Rifkin A message for you cooks: One can drink any wine with any food but when the match is incorrect the food suffers the most, not the wine.

Dano on June 16 2019 at 17:22

Those are all certainly nice pairings. I am disappointed you passed over Thunderbird.

Emma Brown on May 21 2018 at 12:00

Thank you for this amazing list of pairings. I love to have salmon with my 2016 Gearbox Chardonnay. It is a Napa Valley wine and goes really well with salmon. I bought it online from Precision Wine Company. Visit- for more information.

m m walker+ on June 29 2016 at 19:55

since I love salmon and also wine, it makes no difference which wine I have as long as there IS wine and Salmon!

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