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Pairing Wine With Bass

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Many fish species go by the name “bass.” The name refers to a broad group of fish known as Perciformes, or perch-like fishes, which includes both freshwater and marine species. There are several different categories of bass that we know of today.

The 4 major different types of bass are generally classified as Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Spotted Bass & Striped Bass. There are also different types like white bass, black sea bass, white sea bass, and peacock bass. Plus there are different types of hybrid bass.

We will be focusing on the 4 former types since they are the most widely used, but if you are using any other type of Bass then you can simply apply the same principles to your situation, which we will mention further below.

Some information that will be useful when pairing wine with Bass is understanding the texture and cooking method used.

Striped bass usually has a gentle, sweet flavor and a delicate, flaky texture. Largemouth Bass on the other hand, has a firmer texture and a flavor that is slightly sweet and earthy. They tend to be quite large.

Smallmouth bass usually has a firmer texture as well and a flavor that is slightly sweet and nutty. Spotted Bass is similar to striped bass as it is also quite flay and delicate.

Though it is important to factor these elements into your wine pairing, in most cases the method of preparation is key when it comes to fish dishes.

Wine Characteristics To Pair With Bass

Flavor Detail
Sweetness Dry
Acidity Medium to High
Tannins Low
Body Light to Medium
Notes Citrus, Vegetal, Herbal, Earthy

In most cases, when pairing food and wine, if the dish is not sweet, or not a dessert, then it is not recommended to pair with a sweet wine. There are some exceptions of course, but when it comes to fish and bass in particular, a dry wine will be ideal.

Acidity is very important when it comes to wine pairing. It keeps the experience alive and provides freshness to the palate. In most cases, medium levels of acidity will be sufficient as it is recommended to match the levels of acidity of the wine with that of the dish. However, if the dish itself has more acid, for example seabass with a lemon butter sauce, pick a wine like a sauvignon blanc or albarino which have higher levels of acidity and more “zesty” on the palate.

Tannins in the wine should be low, as mentioned earlier due to the fact that they make fish dishes taste metallic. Therefore, a majority of stronger red wines are to be avoided and it is best to stick to white wines or red wines with low tannins.

The body of the wine including the intensity and complexity should match that of the dish. You do not want one to overpower the other. When it comes to bass, most are light and delicate, and are therefore recommended to be matched with a wine which is also lighter in style and can complement, rather than overpower the dish.

Best Red Wine To Drink With Bass

When it comes to wine pairing with Bass and most fish in general, it is recommended to stick to whites or lighter reds. Stronger reds will overpower the delicate aromas and texture of the fish and the tannins can make the fish taste metallic. Reds such as Gamay or Pinot Noir are quite delicate and can pair well with fish.

Red Burgundy from France

Red Burgundy or Bourgogne is made from Pinot Noir. The grape is not listed on the label due to French wine law. A french Pinot Noir is light aromatic and very versatile. It can work very well for those who would prefer a red wine with lighter dishes such as fish or even seafood.

Pinot Noir from New Zealand

New Zealand Pinot Noir is becoming more and more well known in the wine community all over the world. It is light, refreshingly acidic and quite fruity. These are perfect characteristics to pair with fish so as to not overpower the dish.

Beaujolais from France

Beaujolais is made from Gamay and is known for Beaujolais Nouveau, a wine which is very aromatic with flavors of artificial fruit, red cherries. Instead, make sure to pick out a Beaujolais from one of the 10 crus as these will be more structured and layered rather than just fruity. Recommended serving temperature:  65ºF (18ºC)

Best White Wine To Drink With Bass

White wines will work well and the intensity of aromas can be matched with the intensity of the dish. If the dish is very flavourful, something like a riesling or viognier would work well as they are quite powerful and aromatic wines as well. However, in most cases, we would recommend these options:


This versatile grape is grown in many parts of the world. The chardonnays coming from France, in particular Burgundy, tend to be more complex, layered and have more tension. These wines are often described as “gastronomic” wines as they tend to pair better with food.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc are great with fish as they are lean, acidic and give off citrus fruit and herbal notes. Their refreshing aromas along with the beautiful acidity that sauvignon blanc is known for, produce a great pairing with fish and bass in particular.

Recommended serving temperature would vary based on the wine White wines in general 50-60ºF (10-16ºC) Lighter bodied whites wines such as Sauvignon Blanc or Albarino: 50ºF (10ºC) Medium bodied white wines such as Chardonnay: 55ºF (13ºC) Full bodied white wines such as Viognier: 60ºF (16ºC)

Wine With Different Types Of Bass Preparations

Since we know it is best to stick with white wine and light red wines, we can now try to get into the specifics in order to elevate the dining experience even more. With regards to the different types of bass and how they are usually prepared, here are a few recommendations.

Striped Bass  is frequently used in sashimi and sushi recipes. Here, the texture of raw fish tends to work well with chardonnays that also provide a good amount of texture. Or perhaps a chenin blanc from Loire Valley, France would be a good pick as well.

Largemouth Bass is quite often used in stews and soups. These tend to be quite heavy on the palate and aromatic as well. We would suggest a viognier or Torrontés which would be able to stand up to the aromatics and match the weight of the dish.

Smallmouth Bass is frequently baked or grilled. This would be the time to bring out the reds. Pinot Noir is light, fruity and tends to give off earthy aromatics when aged which would pair beautifully complementing the flavors of the dish.

Spotted Bass is seen being used in chowders and dishes like fish tacos or wraps. A sauvignon blanc or albarino with their crisp freshness would contrast the creaminess of the chowder and complement the freshness of the fish tacos. Any high acid wine would do the trick but the vegetal characteristics of a sauvignon blanc would be a perfect choice.

Best Wine To Drink With Bass

As mentioned earlier, the best choices would be white wines or light red wines. Matching intensity of the flavors of the dish with that of the wine while keeping in mind the complementing or contrasting flavors that will work with the dish.

  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Chardonnay
  • Chenin Blanc
  • Riesling
  • Pinot Noir
  • Gamay