Paring Wine and Shrimp

What's the trick to finding the right wine for your favorite shrimp dish?

There is no hard and fast rule like "red wines with red meat and white wines for the rest" that we often have heard, because there are so many different ways to prepare shrimp, and since each gives it a unique flavor you really have to do the wine paring with the end dish in mind.

It's difficult to find much guidance on the internet, but I dug up a couple of articles which seemed helpful. In a well written article at Culinary Media Network the writer expressed the view  that an off-dry Riesling wine, Gewurztraminer (or even beer) does well with ceviche preparations and certain spicy Asian or east/west hybrid shrimp dishes too.

This same idea was expressed by other writers, Paul Lukacs and Marguerite Thomas writing at Wine review on line. With their curry, which they described as "far from fiery", they tried several different wines and also discovered that a rich Chardonnay turned out to be delicious as was a Pinot Noir which they'd decided to try just for kicks.

Chardonnay was also the preferred combination for a shrimp and-linguine with a good dose of garlic and lemon flavor which they present in a blog for American Winery.

From my own experiments, I'd tend to agree with most of the thoughts these writers have expressed, even though I haven't tasted all the specific wines they have written about.

Your own wine preferences

Since this is a very subjective area, and depends a great deal on your own palate, I'd suggest that you experiment with different combinations, using some of the comments which others have written as guidelines, but never hard and fast rules.

As you experiment and get to know more wines, and even beer varieties, you'll start to develop your own preferences.

Some experimental tips:

Read the paring articles to see what these writers say.  When you do your own tasting, pay special attention to the details that these writers did, in particular.

  • What is the main characteristics of the shrimp dish you're eating?
    • Spicy?
    • Acid?
    • Sweet and Sour?
    • Aromatic? etc.
  • What elements of the wine compliment and contrast with the shrimp taste and texture?
    • Color?
    • Sweetness?
    • Acidity?
    • Bouquet?
    • Body?
    • Finish?
    • Aftertaste?
  • Use the above list to check off anything that you find unpleasant about the particular wine (or beverage).
  • If you want to really get serious about this, keep a log, or a note book in which you record your experiences.
  • Use every opportunity you can to experiment with different wines and combinations.  Even if you have your favorites, you'll seldom go wrong trying a mouthful of a new wine to see how it compares. 

If you discover something you really enjoy, or make a discovery which is quite surprising, please let us know so that we can tell others about it here.  If your discovery includes a recipe you'd also like to share, use the recipe exchange

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