How to pair wine with salmon (+5 delicious recipes)

You already know fish is good for you. But maybe you didn’t know that some fish is actually pretty bad for you.

Like, way worse than bacon bad…

We’re looking at you, eel, swordfish and farm-raised tilapia, which is only slightly healthier than Paula Deen’s fried butter balls (yes, that’s a thing).

At the top of the healthy list you have oily fish like sardines, anchovies, mackerel, and herring – none of which exactly bring mass appeal to the dining table. Luckily there’s Salmon, which is packed with healthy omega-3 fats and has low omega-6 (aka “bad” fats). It’s also relatively safe from contaminants like mercury, industrial chemicals (like PCBs), and other strange juju floating around in the ocean that ends up in fish.

Since wine also happens to be pretty darn good for you, it only makes sense to double down on the health factor and enjoy a glass or two with your salmon dinner. And unlike other types of white fish, which only play nicely with white wines, salmon’s rich flavor and high fat content make it an ideal partner for both reds and whites depending on the recipe.

Not all salmon are created equal
Wild caught Alaskan salmon is actually considerably better than farm raised stuff. That’s because it has half the amount of “bad” omega-6 saturated fats as the farm-raised brethren. Also, keep in mind any salmon labeled “Atlantic Salmon” is farmed. So pony up the extra dollars for the wild caught

Keep reading to find several recipes along with suggestions for what to drink with each.

Balsamic Glazed Salmon

This zingy balsamic glaze is VERY easy to make and sure to please just about everyone.

Young, light, and fruity reds play nicely with “dark” flavors like balsamic vinegar. Think Rosso di Montalcino, Beaujolais, or Dolcetto.  If you’re adding a little char on the grill, you could even go with a new world Pinot Noir, Grenache, or lighter Zinfandel.

Get the recipe

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Salmon ceviche

When it’s sweltering outside and you can’t escape to a sandy beach in the Bahamas for a cocktail and a bowl of ceviche, the next best thing is to make your own. It’s surprisingly easy to make – just make sure you get some high quality, fresh caught salmon if possible.

The fresh, delicate flavors of raw ceviche need something equally light on its feet and with ample acidity to cut through the fatty avocado and salmon. We’re thinking Sancerre, Chablis, or dry Riesling.

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Baked honey garlic lime & cilantro salmon in foil

This fresh tasting recipe is dead simple to make, and delivers a wallop of sweet, tangy flavor.

The lively combination of sweet honey, savory garlic, and citrusy lime makes for a fresh recipe that should play nicely with several white wines – especially ones with complimentary citrus and honey notes like Riesling, Viognier and Savenierres.

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Oven baked salmon with lemon cream sauce

This is easily one of the most decadent options on the list, with a rich, creamy sauce framed by some nice acidity from the lemon.

The lemon cream sauce begs for a refreshing white wine, something with substance and enough acidity to slice through the extra fat. An off-dry Vouvray, Riesling, or full-bodied Chardonnay with some oak aging (Meursault, Maconnais, California) should do the trick.

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Grilled salmon burgers

There are so many directions to spin this recipe – add some cabbage slaw, avocado mayo or creme fraiche and arugula. Stick with the tried and true lettuce, onion and tomato. Grill it for some char, or pan fry ’em. Any way you shape it, still beats the traditional hamburger on the health meter.

With all these options for preparation and toppings, you have a broad choice of pairing options. A New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or Chablis would make a refreshing compliment. Or you could roll with a lighter red – Beaujolais, Pinot, or Grenache.

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Mike Meisner

Mike Meisner

Mike is the resident content creator for the Last Bottle blog. When he's not spilling wine on his keyboard he can be found wandering the aisles in the warehouse with a Coravin in hand, whispering to bottles "This will only hurt for a second".
Mike Meisner

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