The Best Wines To Pair With Salmon In 2023

Salmon can certainly take on a range of flavors, which means there is an array of wines that will pair well with it. Choosing the best option comes down to the seasonings you use and how you cook the fish.

While it's commonly believed that white wine goes with chicken and fish and red wine goes with meat, the best way to get the most out of each food and wine pairing is to ditch the generalizations and take it meal by meal. When in doubt, you can always opt to follow the old pairing adage, "What grows together, goes together." It's hard to go wrong by pairing foods with Italian flavors with Italian wine, for example. But as the wine world grows more adventurous and international, thoughtful pairings and surprising combinations can be found across the globe.

Whether you're planning to whip up a honey garlic salmon dish or keep it simple by seasoning with butter, salt, and pepper, there's a wine that will bring out the flavors and help take your dish from boring to banging. We've narrowed down the options and rounded up the best wines to pair with salmon in 2023.

How we chose products

It's easy to feel overwhelmed in a wine shop. There are often floor-to-ceiling shelves with wines from all over the world. But once you know the basics about how wine can complement food, it will become a breeze. Knowing how to identify aromas in wine and hone in on the flavors in your food will give you a good basis for food and wine pairings. 

We went ahead and did some of the hard work for you by choosing popular styles of salmon along with the wines that go best with them. These wines were chosen based on expert reviews, and we've also leveraged the foundations of wine and food pairings. We scoured consumer ratings to ensure the wine was approachable enough for a range of palates and experience levels. The final list is one that will impress even your savviest wine friends, making your next dinner party a complete success.

The best wine to pair with Asian-inspired salmon

Pairing salmon with miso is a great way to enjoy Japanese-inspired flavors that taste more complex than the mere minutes it takes to whip up. When pairing wine with a broiled miso salmon, for example, you'll want to take note of the salmon and miso's umami characteristics and pick a wine that plays on those elements. You could always choose a slightly sweet white wine here, but we love Château du Moulin-à-Vent Couvent Des Thorins paired with the dish's savory notes.

This wine comes from the Beaujolais region in France and is made from gamay, a red grape with notes of violet and blackberries that typically produces lighter-bodied wines. Choosing a young Beaujolais with medium-high levels of acidity and a nice earthiness is a match made in heaven alongside a plate of miso salmon. Decanter highlights this wine's purity and calls out its fresh cherry notes and drinkability.

Château du Moulin-à-Vent Couvent Des Thorins is available at Total Wine for $26.49 a bottle as of January 2023.

The best wine to pair with spicy salmon

In the culinary world, some ingredients simply sing together on the palate. Salmon and spice, for example, work wonders since the fish has an oilier texture that holds up well to flavor. Add in a zingy white wine and you'll be pleasantly surprised by the way the flavors integrate seamlessly with one another. If you're a huge fan of spice, you may have already tried the knockout pairing of spicy foods with pinot gris from Alsace. If you haven't, thank us later.

We love pairing Trimbach's Reserve pinot gris with a sweet and spicy baked salmon for a few reasons. This wine has a medium-high acidity, which helps keep the spice in check. You might detect a hint of minerality, but really this is a zesty and refreshing wine. The honey notes in the wine could pair with a chili-honey marinade for example. Wine Enthusiast notes that this wine is fresh and exciting, which makes it a perfect pairing to lift a spicy honey salmon. The Trimbach family has been growing wine in Eastern France's Alsace region since 1626, and it is clear that they are able to capture the unique character of a grape in each bottle.

Trimbach Reserve pinot gris is available on Total Wine for $21.99 as of January 2023.

The best wine to pair with garlic heavy salmon

Less is often more when relying on quality ingredients. Garlic and butter salmon is simple to execute, but when made with high-quality butter and top-notch salmon from your local fish market, you can elevate this dish to new levels of tastiness. Adding a complementary wine pairing only helps improve the dish even more. A simple meal calls for a wine that is interesting in its own right without completely overpowering it; that's where Framingham sauvignon blanc excels.

Falstaff notes that this wine has bright aromas of lime, melon, and even a bit of elderflower. It has a crisp and concentrated flavor that is significant enough on its own, and we like that it doesn't take over the garlic and butter salmon. This can just as easily be a summer sipper as it can be a serious dinner wine because of its versatility. Most importantly, we love that it doesn't overshadow the salmon.

Framingham sauvignon blanc is available at Total Wine for $19.99 as of January 2023.

The best wine to pair with a sweet glazed salmon

A golden rule of pairing is that a wine should always be sweeter than the food it's served with. This ensures the wine doesn't taste too tart. So if you're whipping up a honey baked salmon recipe for dinner, it's best to lean toward a wine that has a bit of residual sugar. Dr. Loosen's Dr. L Riesling is a great fit for honey-based salmon dishes because it is slightly sweet but still retains bright acidity to keep your palate refreshed.

Dr. Loosen is a German winemaker whose family has owned the Loosen estate for over 200 years. In that time, Dr. Loosen has built up a reputation that's synonymous with benchmark riesling, offering a range from dry to sweet made from grapes that grow in the Mosel Valley, home to some of the steepest slopes in the world. If you've been curious about how to pair sweet glazed salmon with wine, try this combination and prepare to be wowed.

Dr. Loosen Dr. L Riesling is available at Total Wine for $11.99 as of January 2023.

The best wine to pair with delicately flavored salmon

While bold flavors are always welcome, there's a certain appeal to a pared-down salmon seasoning of salt, pepper, and butter. The key is to track down the best quality salmon you can find and to perfect the cooking time so that the fish is texturally flawless. When pairing a wine with lightly seasoned food, it's important to ensure it doesn't overpower the dish. A pillar of food and wine pairing is ensuring both elements have similar flavor intensities, so one doesn't outshine the other. This is especially relevant when pairing a dish that uses minimal seasonings.

Amici's Charles Heintz Vineyard chardonnay is an ideal pick because it is fuller-bodied and has some roundness from time spent in oak barrels. But there is also a freshness — a bit of salinity, citrus, and green apple — that keeps the wine from being too big. You can drink this wine with a creamy pasta dish or heavier spiced salmon, but we think pairing it with a delicately flavored fish helps highlight its simplicity. Wine Enthusiast refers to this wine as "fresh and meaty," so it can easily hold up to a more substantial fish like salmon.

Amici Charles Heintz chardonnay is available on Total Wine for $59.99 as of January 2023.

The best wine to pair with salmon pasta

Chardonnay is one of the most popular grapes in the world, according to The Washington Post. As a shapeshifter of the wine world, chardonnay is found in Champagne, sweeter styles, with or without oak aging, and more. And while chardonnay is not the most complex grape, it's always a reliable choice when looking for a fuller bodied-white wine that pairs with seafood. Au Pied du Mont Chauve Chassagne Montrachet En Pimont is a classic-style white Burgundy. It offers fresh citrus aromas, as well as a structure and acidity that keeps the wine feeling cohesive. 

Sip on this with a creamy salmon pasta dish to pair with complementary textures and flavors. The zinginess of this wine will help break down the rich oiliness of the salmon pasta. At the same time, since chardonnay is fuller-bodied than some other white wines, it won't feel so thin when sipped alongside hearty pasta preparations. Le Guide Hachette Des Vins refers to this wine as voluminous and rich without heaviness, which is exactly what you want when choosing something to accompany a rich salmon pasta dish.

Au Pied du Mont Chauve Chassagne Montrachet En Pimont is available at Total Wine for $79.99. 

The best wine to serve with smoked salmon

By now, Champagne and smoked salmon have been highlighted on enough pairing lists that the relationship between the two is cemented. We are always on the hunt for interesting matches, but there's a reason some combinations become ingrained in our minds (and palates). 

Maybe it's the luxurious feelings that surface when consuming this idyllic duo, or perhaps it's the way the bubbles complement the salty and sweet flavors of the fish. Or maybe we've all just fallen head over heels for anything that screams brunch, as Champagne and smoked salmon do. While you'll have similar pairing success with smoked salmon and any other sparkling wine, Champagne is a real treat for the palate and a good cause for a splurge.

Vilmart & Cie Grand Cellier Brut is a perfect pairing for smoked salmon because it's elegant and lively with fine bubbles. It has a rich texture, as Decanter explains, while still maintaining a graceful elegance. Although this may not be a bottle that you'll sip on each weekend, it could be just the pairing to make a special day even more remarkable.

Vilmart & Cie Grand Cellier Brut is available at Total Wine for $109.99 as of January 2023.

The best wine to pair with citrusy salmon

With more than 10,000 grape varieties in the world (via MasterClass), it's impossible to try them all. But some grapes, like chenin blanc, are easy to find and made in many styles, making them well worth trying. The chenin blanc grape is native to France where it is popular in the Loire Valley. But South Africa has a clear fondness for the grape and boasts the highest yields in the world — around double what grows in France, per Forbes

Chenin blanc produces wines known for their fruity aromas, with citrus rind, passionfruit, peach, or apple notes depending on where and how it's grown. This makes it a wine that pairs well with citrus ingredients in food. A lemon or orange-enhanced salmon dish paired with a dry chenin blanc is a home run, thanks to a similar intensity and flavor profile.

DeMorgenzon Reserve chenin blanc is our top pick to pair with citrusy salmon because it plays with so many elements of the palate. It has a bright acidity that makes your mouth water, as well as tropical fruit notes that add a vibrant element. Together, they integrate beautifully in the glass and on the palate, making for a super food-friendly wine. Slurp describes this wine as balanced, which makes perfect sense considering its well-integrated components.

DeMorgenzon Reserve chenin blanc is available at Total Wine for $39.99 as of January 2023.

The best wine to pair with raw salmon

The lightness of sushi makes it a perfect pairing for many white wines, and while you can go that route, it's a little predictable. Sometimes it's a good idea to buck trends and try something new. That's why we suggest picking up a bottle of pinot noir with your next sushi order. Pinot noir is indeed a red wine, but because it has a higher acidity and low tannins, it can cut through the oiliness of salmon without totally overshadowing it.

Elk Cove pinot noir from the Willamette Valley in Oregon is a wine with silky integrated tannins and supple red fruit. The mix of soils in the region, including sandstone and basalt, according to Forbes, gives the wine a mineral-driven finish that keeps it feeling focused on the palate. This wine will pair with many styles of salmon, but we love it with sushi for an out-of-the-box pairing.

Elk Cove Willamette Valley pinot noir is available on Total Wine for $25.99 as of January 2023.

The best wine to pair with grilled or blackened salmon

If you're into blackened and grilled foods, you know how much flavor chefs can pack into a spice rub. But with blackened salmon, there's a balance of bold flavors paired with the delicate texture of the fish, creating a bit of contradiction. That's why when choosing a wine to match this style of fish, you'll want to remember that texture is just as important as flavor. 

Choosing an Oregon pinot noir is a great choice that's flavorful and weighty without being overpowering. It's a food-friendly style of wine that seems to take on a new complexity of layers when paired with blackened and grilled foods. Domaine Drouhin in Oregon's Willamette Valley produces a pinot noir called Laurène that offers nutty herbal aromas, as well as dark fruit and floral notes.

The 2015 vintage made Forbes' list of top Willamette Valley pinot noirs for its balanced and supple notes. It's as luscious as it sounds and makes for the perfect layered wine to eat with a dish that is equally complex.

Domaine Drouhin Laurène pinot noir is available on Total Wine for $71.99 as of January 2023.