F*** White Wine. Here’s How to Pair Red With Seafood.

Follow these three rules and you’ll never go back to blanc

By Marion Bernstein

F*** White Wine. Here’s How to Pair Red With Seafood.
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26 May 2016

The summer seafood season is nearly here, but that doesn’t mean you have to swap out your reds for whites.

That’s right, we’re throwing the rulebook out the window, displaying absolutely no regard for polite company, and pairing our maritime bounty with red wines. And you can, too.

As long as you adhere to three simple pairing guidelines, you'll be kicking back with a bottle of rosso in no time.

Mind the Sauce
When it comes to pairing fish with red wine, Hahn Estate chef Dyon Foster tells us: “You should always consider acid first, and not in the Timothy Leary or Hunter S. Thompson sense, but more in the lemon juice, tomato sauce, capers and vinegar sense, as I would only condone use of the latter whilst working with knives or open flames.” A lively tomato-caper sauce goes great with the bright, mildly acidic cherry-driven flavors of a California Pinot Noir.

Texture Is Key
Second, consider texture. A heartier fish can stand up to a more assertive red wine. Any thick, grilled steak-cut fish — like tuna or swordfish — will pair well with a more structure red, like a Cab Franc or a Rhone blend.

Spice It Up
And third, consider spice. The more robust the spice, the more robust the wine. Foster says, “I make a spice rub that employs the dark forces of espresso and porcini mushrooms that, once spread across wild-caught salmon, can actually pair seamlessly with a Bordeaux blend.” In sum, add dark spice, drink dark wine.

With this new knowledge in mind, try your hand at one of the three seafood-and-red wine-paired recipes below — and bid farewell to blanc.


Image via Marion Bernstein

Skewered shrimp with spicy chimichurri
Recommended red wine pairing: Lucienne Smith Vineyard Pinot Noir, $50

Shrimp:
2 wooden skewers
10 large shrimp, peeled and cleaned
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Chimuchurri:
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
¼ cup fresh scallions, chopped
¼ pickled banana peppers, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt, pepper and red pepper flake to taste

Soak wooden skewers in water for 10-15 minutes to prevent them from burning on the grill. While skewers are soaking, make the chimichurri by adding all ingredients in a medium bowl and mixing well. Refrigerate while you grill the shrimp. Peel and devein each shrimp, making sure to leave the tail on. Brush a grill pan or griddle pan with olive oil and bring to medium heat. Place each skewer on the pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and grill each side about 2-3 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and plump. Remove skewers from the pan, plate and generously spoon the relish over each skewer. (Optional: serve over a bed of rice or pasta.)


Image via Marion Bernstein

Chilean sea bass with olive caponata
Recommended red wine pairing: Hahn SLH Pinot Noir, $30

Sea bass:
1 Chilean sea bass filet, about 1 inch thick
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Caponata:
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 small Spanish onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small eggplant, cut into small cubes
1 small can tomato paste
2-3 cups water
1 cup green olives, chopped
½ cup capers
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves for garnish

In a large skillet, heat ¼ cup olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced onion and garlic and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook about 3 minutes until onions begin to look translucent and mixture is fragrant. Add eggplant, tomato paste and water, and stir until well mixed. Continue to cook over medium heat 15-20 minutes until the eggplant softens. Add the olives, capers, red wine vinegar and sugar. As the caponata cooks for another 5-10 minutes, grease a separate grill pan with extra virgin olive oil and bring heat to medium. Season the sea bass with salt and pepper and place on the heated grill pan, skin side up. Cook on each side for about 3 minutes. Remove the sea bass from the grill pan, spoon caponata mixture over fish and garnish with freshly chopped parsley.


Image via Marion Bernstein

Crispy paprika-parmesan cod fillets with sautéed kale (recipe adapted from The Kitchn)
Recommended red wine pairing: Hahn GSM, $14

Cod:
2 thin cod fish fillets (flounder, tilapia or grouper will work well, too)
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 lemon wedges for garnish

Kale:
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 bunch kale, washed and torn
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine Parmesan, paprika and cayenne in a small bowl and set aside. In a large skillet, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat until it starts to gently bubble. Season cod with salt and pepper and place fillets in hot skillet. While the fillets are cooking, turn the oven to broil. After 3 minutes, carefully turn the fillets over using a spatula. Generously cover with Parmesan-paprika mixture. Place skillet under the broiler and continue cooking for about 3 minutes or until the fillets are golden brown. Transfer the fish to a warm plate and let rest. Return the skillet to the stove and add minced garlic to the remaining melted butter. Add the kale and season with salt, pepper and red chili flakes. Season with red wine vinegar and lemon juice, toss and cook until kale begins to soften, ever so slightly. Serve alongside cod fillets with lemon wedges and a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  

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