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Pairing Wine With Tilapia

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Tilapia is a type of fish that has quite mild flavor and is consumed all over the world. Actually it is the fourth most consumed type of seafood in the United States. The fish itself is quite rich in protein and vitamins which no doubt adds to its popularity. It can be prepared in numerous ways and we will cover some of the different ways of preparation in this article. 

In general, white wine makes a  great accompaniment for fish and seafood in general, therefore we would recommend having white to go with your Tilapia. 

There are some red options that can complement fish if it is prepared in the right way. Look for wines with higher acidity levels, nice fresh fruit aromas and a light to medium body. 

Wine Characteristics To Pair With Tilapia

AcidityMedium to high
BodyLight to medium bodied whites, Light reds
Tasting NotesCitrus, green fruit, stone fruit. Ripe red fruits, butter

Sweetness – Since this fish is usually prepared as a main course, we wouldn’t necessarily advise having a sweeter style of wine. Go for a bone dry wine with Tilapia.

Acidity – Acidity level is really important when it comes to fish or seafood, especially if it’s served with a slice of lemon. Go for a wine with medium to high acidity level. 

Tannins – When it comes to red wines, we would recommend sticking to reds with low tannins, as a higher level of tannins might overpower your main course. 

Body – Light to medium bodied whites will be perfect for this dish although you might as well try it out with a fuller bodied white if you prefer those.
As for our red recommendation, keep the body level light. 

Tasting notes – Citrus, green fruit, hints of stone fruit aromas will make a great pairing with fish. In case the fish is prepared with butter, go for wine with hints of butter and cream. Red wines should in general have more red fruit aromas and this will coincide with the body level of the wine. 

Best Red Wine To Drink With Tilapia

We understand that red wines are generally not that much consumed with fish and it’s perfectly understandable, but there are a couple of situations in which a glass or even a bottle of red might do the trick. 

It is important to have a refreshing, crisp style of red, with low tannin level, light body and a high acidity. 

Pinot Noir from Burgundy 

In general any Pinot Noir will be a great pairing with charcoal grilled fish, as the tannin level is almost always low to medium, with medium to high acidity and light to medium body. It has a nice earthy aroma, and almost a smoky nose since it almost always spends time in oak. 

Grenache from France

You may want to try a 100% Grenache coming from South of France as it really has a lower tannin level, it’s quite fruit forward and it has a spicy, charred smell alongside smoke aromas from oak aging. 

Barbera from Italy

Barbera is a grape variety planted in northwest Italy in the region of Piemonte. There are a couple of appellations that grow Barbera and all of them tend to be amazing. Try looking for Barbera d’Asti or Barbera d’Alba. It has high acidity, low tannins, deep color and a bit of peppery aromas. 

Best White Wine To Drink With Tilapia

Now white wines make a great pairing for lean white fish such as Tilapia and thankfully there are many more options for wine pairings. 

With a wide range of styles, white wines can pair well with fish regardless of their body or even style, as sometimes even sparkling wine can work well with fish. In this case we will try to recommend a light, medium and a full bodied white for you. 

Riesling from France

A light to medium bodied riesling from the region of Alsace makes a great pairing for fish. It naturally has a soaring acidity, lots of citrus fruit aromas and a smoky character coming from the soil of the region. They just keep getting better with age, so we would recommend having one with at least 3-5 years of age. 

Albarino from Spain

This is a wine produced in the coastal region of Galicia, more precisely in Rias Baixas. It is characterized by a high acidity, medium body, citrus and stone fruit aromas. It is often aged on the lees as well which gives the wine a nice texture which just makes any pairing sophisticated. 

Chardonnay from New Zealand

New Zealand Chardonnays have been taking over the wine scene recently and there is a good reason for that. Most of them are grown on the north island of New Zealand and since it is warmer than the south island, the wines tend to be more fuller bodied and expressive.
Lots of stone fruit aromas, citrus fruit, butter, smoke and oak will complement your dish and make it a memorable dining experience.

Pairing Wine With Tilapia Prepared Different Ways

Wine With Grilled Tilapia

In general, grilled fish has a bit more charred aromas, hints of smoke and it suits the flavor profile of red wine. For this reason, we would recommend having any of our upper suggestions with your grilled fish. 

Wine With Pan Fried Tilapia

A pan fried Tilapia will generally be a little bit more oily with a crust on the outside. An acidic white wine will cut through the fat of the oil or butter used to fry the fish and it will complement it with its citrus flavors. 

Wine With Baked Tilapia

Baked tilapia is the most common way to prepare the fish, because the fish are smaller and have small filets. So baking makes the most sense so you don’t have to flip the filets or risk the filets falling through the grill grates in the grill. Baked tilapia will also tend to be the lightest flavors compared to fried or grilled. So make sure the wine you choose is light-bodied so it doesn’t overpower the fish.

Best Wine To Drink With Tilapia

The list below is our recommendation of fine choices which you can have with Tilapia. Crisp, acidic wines with fresh aromas and flavors will complement the fish. 

  • Albarino from Spain
  • Riesling from France
  • Chardonnay from New Zealand
  • Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre (France)
  • Catarratto and Carricante from Sicily

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