Knowing Your Wines — Cooking with Fish

The second part of our wine guide covers the tricky task of cooking with fish and shellfish. Picking the right variety of wine never became more important…

Choosing the correct wine to cook with can often make or break a dish, though there is probably only a small percentage of cooks and chefs, professional or otherwise, who will admit to making the wrong decision before. As I stated in Part 1 of this series, a lot of “getting it right” comes down to trial and error. That being said, succeeding first time has its advantages.

Having white wine with fish often seems like a given, much the same as having red wine with red meat and so on. As such, as you will no doubt see from the table constructed below, the whites to use for cooking with fish can be narrowed down to three common varieties — Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. There is rarely any call for a sweeter white wine in cooking with fish, so the acidic ones like those three will definitely fit the bill.

Red wine with fish, on the other hand, is something of a mystery to the lesser-read cook. 17th century celebrity chef Robert May – chef to King James VI and I, no less – used red wine with his fish-based recipes quite often, many of which can be found in his book The Accomplisht Cook. This is probably where you will need the table; there’s a wider range of wines to use and, as such, a bigger window for error.

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