What’s the Best White Wine to Pair With Seafood?

Today, Nicholas Daddona — New England-based sommelier and Director of Beverage for the Boston Harbor Hotel — explains some of the best white wine with seafood pairings.

Could you explain some of your favorite styles of white wine and tips for pairing wine with seafood? What makes these pairings stand out?

Seafood is a New England staple. Boston and New England also have a unique availability of wines available in our restaurants and shops, as we enjoy an equal amount of old world (European) and new world (Americas and southern hemisphere) wines.

RELATED: Wine Pairing Basics – How Acids, Fats, Salts and More Affect Food and Wine Pairing

There are three major types of seafood we enjoy in New England – our raw seafood, which includes seafood platters (raw oysters, clams, and cooked shrimp cocktail), fried seafood (whole belly clams being the Boston favorite), and fresh preparations of a variety of seafood including cod, lobster, crab, Atlantic salmon etc.

Sparkling Wine and Seafood Is Ideal

The seafood landscape in New England is vast, but there are a few tips to scouting out the best wine for your dishes. Sparkling wine is a great choice. Estate-grown bottles of champagne (those made by people who own their own vines) is a fantastic choice.  Although a bit harder to find than the grand houses, it is well worth the search as the nuances of flavors can be amplified. This would be my pick for the bounty of fried seafood in New England.

Other Great White Wines to Pair with Seafood

Oysters and raw bars are a New England tradition… or institution (depending on who you ask). I love these little gems with Loire Valley whites as well as Alsace whites. The Rieslings of Alsace pair perfectly with oysters, and are some of the best values in the French market today. If you can find it, there is an inexpensive but lovely and bright wine from Alsace called “Edelzwicker,” a blend of many varieties from Alsace. The Edelzwicker, from the producer Shoenheitz, is one of my favorites, and many of these wines come in a liter bottle (bonus!)

Other great Italian white wines such a Soave (from the Veneto region), Falanghina and Greco di Tufo (from Campania) also work exceedingly well with seafood. These wines are higher in acid with citrus, mineral and a delightful texture.

Lastly we have our lovely fish and shellfish preparations available in new England. These can vary greatly but there are some tools for finding amazing pairings.

Don’t count out rosé! With the ever-expanding rose market, trust your local wine shop owner. Provence style light rose wines can provide enough zip to pair with seafood dishes, but enough body to handle sides and sauces. There are some fantastic finds out there. Remember, as the summer ends those price reductions ramp up! (read: magnum party)

Rhone Valley white wines are surprisingly not widely available in many big wine shops, but restaurants and boutique wine shops are full of them. There is a reason: these wines are typically smaller production, keeping the big guys away, but offer spectacular value. These wines (loosely based around Grenache Blanc and Clairette) offer a full body and ample fruit, with a crispness in the back of the palate that clears food nicely. These wines are (surprise!) lower in acid, but pair beautifully. The perfect counter to a lobster roll and a side of coleslaw.

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Nick has become one of an increasing number of young sommeliers "behind the wine list" in America’s top restaurants. He was bitten by the wine bug early while attending university and began working in restaurants in both Connecticut and Boston. Nick’s charismatic personality and his ability to passionately communicate food and wine have led him to beverage and wine management positions with several Boston standards including Legal Seafoods, The Aquitaine Group and Les Zygomates Wine Bar & Bistro. Always putting education first, Nick is on the Board of Directors for the Boston Sommelier Society, a non-profit group whose sole purpose is furthering wine education throughout greater Boston. Nick is pursuing the Master Sommelier certification through the Court of Masters Sommeliers Americas and is currently an Advanced Sommelier.

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