What compliments fresh fish? Just the right wine. Culinary expert Scott Jones, the former executive editor at Southern Living and current head of Jones Is Thirsty, where he offers “no-snobbery wine and craft beer education,” is happy to give some advice.
Your catch of the day on an Alabama lake is almost certain to be a white-wine fish, according to Jones. “These fish are all fairly delicate white-flesh fish, and those fish, in the presence of red wine and tannins, just really have an off-putting flavor,” Jones said.
“Preparation has a lot to do with the wine you would serve, but unfortunately, none of those fish are the kind you would serve with a red wine,” Jones said. “You’d really need a fish that’s high in oil and fat – like salmon, for instance — which is a classic fish that pairs well with light-style red wines.” With that in mind, we’ve paired Jones’ white wine recommendations with various ways to prepare your fish:
1) Fried fish.
“You want something that has really good acidity to cut through fat, so maybe an unoaked chardonnay or a pinot gris,” Jones said. “I really am a big fan of Acrobat pinot gris, and Four Vines makes a terrific unoaked chardonnay that they call Naked Chardonnay. Both are easy to find in Alabama.”
2) Baked fish.
“If it’s just a baked fish with very little seasoning and some vegetables, I would probably stick with something like that pinot gris that’s still pretty delicate,” Jones recommended. “Or you could even try a sauvignon blanc from California, like a Mondavi cuvÃ©e blanc, which would be really delicious with baked fish.”
3) Grilled fish.
“For something grilled, I would stick with probably a chardonnay, but not one that was too oaky – probably an unoaked chardonnay or a French Burgundy,” Jones said. “If it had a spicy rub like a jerk seasoning, anything with spice, I would think about a riesling that had a slight touch of residual sugar. Not a sweet wine, but something that people might think of as ‘off-dry’ … that touch of residual sugar helps to temper the heat of spicy food. And it’d still be refreshing enough for you to have in the summertime.”
4) None of the above.
If you’re not so lucky with your fishing trip out to the lake, Jones still has some recommendations for summertime beverages to buy. “When it comes to outdoor, warm-weather wines, I like sauvignon blanc, I like Sancerre, which is where sauvignon blanc is historically from in France. I think those are pretty wonderful – light, crisp, but still a good bit of flavor,” Jones said. “I also go back to pinot gris. It’s got a great flavor, complex and crisp, but still refreshing. You want a wine with good acidity so that it’s still refreshing, so that you can beat the heat.”
For more from culinary expert Scott Jones, visit jonesisthirsty.com.