Pairing Wine With Trout

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Trout is a versatile fish. It has medium-textured, slightly flakey flesh and a delicate, neutral flavor, so it can be enhanced significantly with the right wine. It can be prepared in a number of ways. In this article, we’ll go through the best pairing options for this delectable fish, and which wines work best with smoked trout, trout almondine, and the fattier meats of rainbow and steelhead trout. 

Wine Characteristics To Pair With Trout

CharacteristicDetail
SweetnessDry
AcidityHigh
TanninsLow
BodyLight to Medium
Tasting NotesCrisp, aromatic, citrus zest, herbal notes and savory qualities.

It is generally recommended that you don’t mix tannins and fish, so try to find a low-tannin wine. Tannins can create an undesirable, bitter taste when combined with oily fish, and can overpower delicate flavors like trout. Fish is usually quite fatty, so wines with high acid definitely qualify. In terms of flavor, zesty wine is the way to go, particularly whites with some underlying herbaceous and savory notes. 

Best Red Wine To Drink With Trout

The presence of tannins limits your red wine options. Big, bold reds are considered to be a no-go. However, there is at least one famously light-bodied red wine, which is known for pairing brilliantly with fish, particularly meatier, seafaring species. 

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is probably your best choice if you want to pair trout with a glass of red wine. It’s low in tannins, rich in fruit, and high in acid. Trout can also be slightly herbaceous, which is a great match for Pinot Noir’s delicate herbs and earthy, umami flavors. It is also worth considering for a fish that has spent some time in saltwater, such as Steelhead Trout. These will usually have a slightly richer flavor. 

Best White Wine To Drink With Trout

White wine is the traditional choice for pairing with fish, and there are good reasons for that. Tannins are basically non-existent in white wine, and they can be delightfully zesty and refreshing. Your best options also have hints of herbaceousness and salinity to match the subtle taste of trout. 

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is one of your best bets. It’s crisp enough to cut through oil and fat and has some beautiful notes of salinity and herbs that scream out for a fish pairing. Sometimes, Sauvignon Blanc is aged in oak, which can add extra body and a certain creaminess. This might overpower trout’s subtle flavors, so keep an eye out for wines aged in stainless steel. It is grown all over the world, so you have a lot of options. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is famously fruity, but some of the very best versions of this wine come from Sancerre in the Loire Valley. These are stunningly crisp and clear, and sometimes feature hints of gunpowder. 

Riesling

Riesling is incredibly versatile for pairing with food, so it is always worth a mention. We recommend a dry Riesling with trout. It is highly aromatic and can contain some extremely tart and crisp lime flavors, perfect for cutting through oily fish. You can find dry Rieslings from Germany and Austria, where they are labeled “Trocken”, but there are also some brilliantly acidic examples from Washington State. 

Chardonnay

Chardonnay is used in many of France’s best white wines. Trout can be so delicate that we recommend seeking out an unoaked Chardonnay, so as to not overpower the fish. This limits the options slightly, but Chablis would be fantastic, with its crisp acidity and distinct mineral notes. You can also find a variety of unoaked Chardonnays in California. Cool climate Chardonnays, such as Mendocino County and the Russian River Valley will have an extra bite, and will likely make the best pairings. 

Chenin Blanc

Chenin Blanc is made in a huge variety of styles across France and South Africa, but for trout, you should consider getting a dry version. Chenin Blanc’s distinct lemon flavors will balance trout wonderfully. Look out for a dry South African wine, or if you want something special, one from the Savennières region of France. 

Pairing Wine With Trout Prepared Different Ways

Wine With Smoked Trout

Smoking trout does away with the oiliness of the fish, and adds a subtly smoky flavor. It could still be overpowered by the wrong wine, so we recommend going for a Sauvignon Blanc, particularly one from Sancerre or Pouilly-Fume, with notes of gunpowder. 

Wine With Rainbow Trout

Rainbow trout and Steelhead trout are the same species, but Rainbow trout spends its entire life in freshwater. It can be fattier than a lake or brown trout, which is worth considering when pairing. It can also taste ever so slightly of nut, so our recommendation is an acidic unoaked Chardonnay or a Fiano from Italy. 

Wine With Steelhead Trout

Steelhead spends time in saltwater, so it can taste richer than other kinds of trout. It is slightly less fatty, and more similar to salmon in its flavor profile. Pair it with a fuller-bodied white, such as Chenin Blanc, or even a Pinot Noir. In fact, you can get hold of a Pinot Noir from “Steelhead Vineyards”, if you feel like pairing names, as well as food. 

Wine With Trout Almondine

Trout Almondine is a delicate French dish, made with buttery sauce and almond nuts. It’s crying out for a crisp and nutty white wine. Try out a Chardonnay, Chablis in particular, a Fiano di Avellino, or a Sauvignon Blanc. 

Best Wine To Drink With Trout

Pairing trout with wine has the potential to be a wonderful, sophisticated dining experience. Trout dishes can be extremely delicate, but if you keep zesty, herbaceous white wines in mind, it will be difficult to go wrong. These are our top picks for pairing trout with wine: 

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

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