What Red Wine Goes with Fish and Chips: Exploring Pairing Options

by Kaia

Pairing wine with fish and chips might seem unconventional, given the traditional association of wine with seafood or white meats. However, the versatility of red wine offers surprising compatibility with this classic British dish. Exploring the nuances of flavors, textures, and wine varieties can elevate the dining experience when indulging in fish and chips. Understanding the key elements that make a red wine complement this dish can lead to delightful combinations that enhance the overall dining experience.


Understanding Fish and Chips: A Culinary Tradition

Fish and chips, an iconic British dish, consists of battered and deep-fried fish served with thick-cut potatoes. Typically, cod or haddock takes center stage, enveloped in a crisp, golden-brown batter, accompanied by chunky chips. The fish’s delicate flavor and flaky texture contrast with the hearty, starchy nature of the fries, creating a satisfyingly balanced meal. The combination of crispy exterior and moist fish interior makes for a delightful contrast in each bite.


Red Wine Characteristics for Pairing

When contemplating what red wine goes with fish and chips, considering the wine’s characteristics is pivotal. Opting for red wines with certain traits can harmonize with the dish’s components. Look for wines with moderate tannins, balanced acidity, and a versatile flavor profile. Light to medium-bodied red wines tend to complement the texture of fish and chips without overpowering their flavors, creating a harmonious pairing.


Pinot Noir: A Graceful Companion

Pinot Noir stands out as a prime contender for accompanying fish and chips. Its lighter body, subtle tannins, and vibrant acidity make it an excellent choice. The wine’s red fruit flavors like cherry and raspberry, coupled with earthy undertones, meld seamlessly with the dish. Pinot Noir’s versatility allows it to complement the delicate fish without overshadowing the meal’s overall taste.


Merlot: A Soft and Approachable Option

Merlot, known for its smoothness and approachable nature, can also harmonize with fish and chips. With its medium-bodied profile and softer tannins, Merlot doesn’t overpower the fish’s subtleties. Its plum, berry, and herbal notes create a pleasing contrast, enhancing the dish’s flavors without dominating the palate.

Gamay: A Refreshing Twist

Gamay, the grape behind Beaujolais wines, offers a refreshing and lively option for pairing with fish and chips. Its light-bodied nature, low tannins, and vibrant acidity make it an ideal choice. Gamay’s red fruit flavors, such as cherry and cranberry, with a touch of earthiness, complement the fried fish’s texture and flavors while cleansing the palate between bites.

Exploring Regional Varieties

Delving into regional red wine varieties can provide unique pairings with fish and chips. Certain wine-producing regions offer varietals that unexpectedly harmonize with this dish.

Spanish Tempranillo: A Bold Yet Harmonious Match

Tempranillo, a prominent Spanish grape variety, exhibits boldness coupled with a versatile profile. Its medium to full body, moderate tannins, and balanced acidity make it a surprisingly complementary choice. The wine’s cherry, plum, and herbal notes blend well with the fried fish, offering a robust yet harmonious pairing that accentuates the meal’s flavors.

Italian Barbera: A Tangy and Lively Pairing

Barbera, hailing from Italy, presents a tangy and lively option for enjoying fish and chips. Its high acidity, coupled with red fruit flavors like cherry and raspberry, creates an intriguing contrast. Barbera’s refreshing nature cuts through the dish’s richness, providing a satisfying and palate-cleansing experience with each sip.

Chilean Carménère: A Unique and Intriguing Option

Carménère, primarily found in Chile, offers a unique twist to the pairing game. With its medium body, soft tannins, and distinct herbal notes mingled with red fruit flavors, Carménère complements the fried fish’s textures and flavors. Its slightly smoky and spicy undertones add depth, creating an intriguing and unexpected fusion of flavors.

Pairing Techniques and Considerations

When selecting red wine to accompany fish and chips, several techniques and considerations can enhance the dining experience.

Consider the Batter and Condiments

The type of batter used for the fish and the accompanying condiments can influence the wine pairing. A lighter, beer-based batter might pair well with lighter reds, while a richer, malt-based batter could harmonize better with medium-bodied red wines.

Acidic Wines for Balance

Opting for red wines with higher acidity can cut through the dish’s fried elements, cleansing the palate and preventing the meal from feeling overly heavy. Wines with bright acidity, such as certain Pinot Noirs or Barberas, can provide a refreshing contrast to the dish’s richness.

Texture Matching

Matching the texture of the wine with the dish is crucial. Light to medium-bodied red wines often align well with the delicate texture of the fish, maintaining a balanced harmony without overwhelming the palate.

Personal Preference

Ultimately, the art of wine pairing involves experimentation and personal preference. While certain guidelines exist, individual taste preferences play a significant role. Trying various red wine options with fish and chips allows for discovering unexpected and enjoyable combinations.


In the realm of food and wine pairing, exploring the compatibility of red wine with fish and chips offers a delightful journey of tastes and textures. From the delicate nature of Pinot Noir to the robustness of Tempranillo, various red wine varieties can beautifully complement this classic British dish. Understanding the key attributes of both the wine and the meal, along with experimenting with different pairings, enables enthusiasts to elevate their dining experiences, turning a simple dish of fish and chips into a gourmet adventure. When pondering what red wine goes with fish and chips, embracing diversity and exploring unconventional pairings can lead to exquisite culinary discoveries.



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