Pairing Red Wine with Swordfish
I know what you’re thinking. Seafood should always be paired with white wine or rosé. I thought the same for a very long time, and insisted that when I poured a glass of anything red I was breaking the rules. But I wasn’t. As it turns out, some seafood dishes can shine alongside red wine.
Writing about this makes me recall the time a sommelier paired a California Cabernet Sauvignon with a lobster tail in coconut curry sauce. Who knew? I was stunned at that pairing. But I wasn’t disappointed. Somehow the robust Cab cut through the creaminess of the sauce and did not take anything away from that succulent lobster tail.
When experimenting with unexpected pairings, one to try is red wine with swordfish, a white-fleshed, meaty, almost chicken breast-like seafood steak that will stand up to certain red wines.
How do I know swordfish pairs well with red wine?
Because I recently cooked swordfish at home and wanted to have red wine with dinner. It had been a long time since my last attempt at cooking this creature from the sea, and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to prepare said swordfish on my range in my New York apartment.
I seasoned with salt and pepper, then pan-seared the fish in olive oil and topped it with a salsa of cherry tomatoes, yellow corn, bell pepper, and lime juice, serving alongside a simple green salad. I cooked it to medium so it was still a bit moist inside. It was delicious, especially with my chosen red wine: a 2021 FEL Pinot Noir from California’s Anderson Valley, a wine that checked all the boxes for me.
Meaty seafood like swordfish works best with a medium-bodied red wine
This wine has the right amount of body to sip alongside a meaty fish. A blend of fruit from the Ferrington and Wendling Vineyards, as well as the winery’s own estate Savoy Vineyard, the 2021 FEL Pinot Noir is an elegant, well-structured wine that captures the essence of the region’s coastal climate. Expect red fruit, chocolate, and mission fig with a robust texture in the mouth. I loved this velvety red wine with swordfish, but I’d absolutely enjoy a glass of this rich, well-balanced Pinot Noir on its own.
When choosing a Pinot Noir to pair with swordfish, I recommend a more medium-bodied wine, so leave lighter-bodied Pinots for lighter dishes and daytime sipping. Don’t forget to chill your Pinot before pouring. Wine pros recommend serving these luscious red wines at 55 to 60 degrees. While that range might sound chilled, remember, wine warms in the glass rather quickly. Hence, always hold your wine glass by the stem to help preserve the correct temp for optimal taste.
Pairing other red wine with swordfish
What are some other red varieties to consider with swordfish? I recommend trying Gamay, a delicious red often compared to Pinot Noir. Gamay is typically from Beaujolais and occasionally from the Loire Valley in France. I have fallen in love with this wine of late, and I think a more medium-bodied Gamay would complement swordfish nicely. A lighter Nebbiolo, a grape from Italy’s Piedmont region and even the right Merlot would also be lovely. Whichever red you choose, select a wine with some oomph and preferably soft, silky tannins to not overwhelm the fish.
Have you paired red wine with swordfish? I’d love to hear your suggestions.
I occasionally receive wines for editorial coverage. All reviews or mentions are of my own accord and not influenced by others.