What wine goes with shrimp, anyway? With such a mildly sweet flavor, it seems like most wines will be too strong for your dish. We don’t think so!
Choosing the right wine is certainly tricky thanks to how lightweight shrimp’s constitution is. Highly tannic red wines are often unsuitable due to their intense flavor profiles, drowning out the delicate sweetness of your food. That said, not all white wines are the best options depending on their sugar and acidity.
We’ll detail what wine goes with shrimp below, separated by shrimp dishes to help you pair your meal easily. By the end of the piece, you won’t have to worry about drowning out the flavors of your dish or creating any funny flavors by accident.
Preparing Your Shrimp Dish
The type of shrimp in your dish will completely change which wine you should pair it with.
A simple shrimp cocktail gives you the ability to enjoy your shrimp’s gentle flavor or dip it in a variety of spicy sauces for an extra kick. Shrimp cocktail requires the seafood to be cooked without frying or grilling to protect the fishy flavor.
The most popular ingredients used for shrimp cocktails are:
- Ketchup or tomato paste
- Worcestershire sauce
- Lemon juice
- Olive oil
This type of shrimp preparation can be raw or briefly boiled depending on your tastes. Raw shrimp sashimi is even sweeter than cooked shrimp, boasting a slick-yet-soft bite.
If you want to order or cook boiled shrimp sashimi (also known as ebi nigiri), your shrimp will be plump and quite tender. This recipe is a great pick if you don’t want an overwhelmingly fishy flavor with your wine.
Craving a little more bite to your dish? Grilled shrimp will have a whiff of smoke and charr alongside the other flavors on your platter.
Grilled shrimp is sometimes layered with soy sauce or sprinkled with spices such as black pepper, red pepper, or garlic powder.
Shrimp Stir Fry
If you prefer a pan-fried approach, a shrimp stir fry will give you a medley of ingredients with little effort. These dishes often come with a slew of noodles, rice, or greens to add extra starch or crunch to your meal.
You can add a thick sauce or leave it out in favor of a little olive oil.
Shrimp Surf and Turf
Shrimp surf and turf give you a fishy undertone to a dish dominated by oily and fatty ingredients. If your shrimp dish is going to be muscling in alongside beef or crab, you’ll need one of the savory wine pairings on this list.
What Wine Goes With Shrimp?
Since shrimp doesn’t have the punchiest flavor in the sea, your wine needs to be more subdued by default. Tannic red wine is often too bitter or savory for your dish, devouring your seafood whole leaves a weird aftertaste behind.
Sugary white wines are also to be avoided due to the aforementioned weird aftertaste.
The Best White Wine With Shrimp
White wine grapes are the de facto pairing for seafood due to their light body, high acidity, and generally more subtle flavor notes.
Shrimp is often seen as a fun, casual dish due to the seafood’s charming shape and short cooking time. Prosecco is a logical pairing straight from Italy, offering up a pop of bubbles to give your meal extra personality.
This wine has a vividly floral aroma and a strong lean toward sweeter flavor notes like honeysuckle and apple. This combination is subtle enough not to overpower your shrimp, yet distinctively sweet enough to contrast your food’s faint fishy flavor.
We Recommend This Wine With Shrimp Cocktail or Shrimp Stir Fry
Between the bubbles and the bouquet, this wine deserves a dish that’s equally fun. A shrimp cocktail’s spicy and fishy flavors go great with the high acidity, while a shrimp stir fry’s noodles or rice will soak up the fruit flavors.
What’s a seafood dish without a tall, pale glass of sauvignon blanc? This French grape’s elegant simplicity makes it one of the easiest wine pairings for shrimp.
With a flavor profile of lemon, lime, and passionfruit, sauvignon blanc straddles the line between citrus and tropical. Try chilling your glass beforehand to enhance your wine’s citrus notes.
We Recommend This Wine With All Kinds of Shrimp
The lean simplicity of sauvignon blanc makes it well-suited to just about any shrimp dish. Its powerful citrus flavors will pop against a charred grilled or stir fry dish, while simpler shrimp platters will still hold up.
Leaning toward the floral side with a characteristically waxy mouthfeel, chenin blanc is an acquired taste that pairs well with seafood. This white wine grape is just distinctive enough to stand out, but not so bold it overpowers your food.
This wine grape is quite versatile, sometimes blended or a single origin still variety. Other times you’ll find sparkling or dessert variations.
Old World Chenin blanc leans toward green apple, quince, mineral, and honey flavor notes, while New World has hints of tropical fruit.
We Recommend This Wine With Shrimp Stir Fry
Sparkling chenin blanc is a must-have addition to a crunchy and zesty shrimp stir fry. The acidity truly shines in this variation, while the bubbles will add a nice complement to the spices in your recipe.
If you prefer a still wine, try shrimp sashimi or shrimp cocktail. The light fishiness of your food will hold fast against your wine’s lightly honeyed or tropical fruit notes.
One of the breeziest white wine grapes around is muscadet, a light-bodied and refreshing wine that’s ideal for drinkers who want less fruity flavor notes.
While muscadet still has hints of lemon and lime, its most memorable flavors lean toward salinity, yeast, and flowers. Its acidity is also high and dry enough to nip any possible sweetness in the bud.
We Recommend This Wine With Light Shrimp Stir Fry or Shrimp Sashimi
Stay away from heavier dishes with this wine. A stir fry with little to no sauce and an emphasis on vegetables is better suited to muscadet’s lightweight character. You’ll still have a wealth of acidity and salinity to make your food’s flavors sing.
Shrimp sashimi is another milder option that’ll prevent your already delicate wine from tasting like water.
What’s one of the most beloved pairings with shrimp? A little cup of hot butter, of course! Oaked chardonnay develops a heavy, creamy texture and slightly buttered aftertaste that lines up perfectly with a seafood platter.
You’ll still enjoy some ripe yellow fruit such as pears and apricots alongside hints of oak and vanilla.
We Recommend This Wine With Grilled Shrimp
Lighter shrimp dishes with little to no cooking will be quickly overpowered by your glass, so match your wine with an equally hefty platter. Grilled shrimp or shrimp surf and turf will be complex enough to be balanced out by oaked chardonnay’s richer traits.
The Best Red Wine With Shrimp
Shrimp is often not paired with red wine thanks to these grapes often having higher tannin counts. However, such a broad wine category will inevitably have a few exceptions!
Lightweight and bursting with happy red fruit, barbera is one of our go-to red wine recommendations for seafood dishes. The high acidity sparkles on the tongue, while the low tannin count still lets your food shine.
Barbera often has lip-smacking notes of dried strawberries, cherries, and raspberries, while oaked versions will have hints of star anise and darker fruit-like blackberries.
We Recommend This Wine With Shrimp Stir Fry or Grilled Shrimp
A little charr or tossed spices in your dish will pair nicely with barbera’s zesty, tart flavors. The wine’s lighter body and smoother mouthfeel are refreshing qualities that make your recipe taste just a little richer.
While not quite as lightweight as barbera, zinfandel is a runner-up: a medium-bodied and rather balanced red wine that goes well with seafood.
Known as primitivo in Italy, the zinfandel grape leans toward jammy without being too heavy. Expect ripe red fruit and dark fruit such as plums, cherries, and blackberries. You may get hints of black pepper and cinnamon with some oak aging.
We Recommend This Wine With Grilled Shrimp or Shrimp Surf And Turf
Grilled shrimp’s smoke and charr will taste brilliant with zinfandel’s fruity notes. Similarly, this wine’s somewhat more robust character fits the inherent meaty richness of shrimp surf and turf.
Unoaked Pinot Noir
Pinot noir is a predictable addition to just about any food pairing thanks to its incredibly balanced nature. That said, we think an unoaked pinot noir would suit your shrimp better than an oaked version.
Shrimp dishes often do well with higher acidity, lighter bodies, and more fruit-forward natures. Unoaked pinot noir has all of the above in spades: it’s overflowing with raspberry and strawberry flavor notes alongside a light, smooth body.
We Recommend This Wine With Grilled Shrimp or Shrimp Surf And Turf
Pinot noir is famously lovely with red meat, so pour yourself a glass with your shrimp surf and turf. Make sure you have plenty of juicy beef alongside your seafood.
If you don’t want red meat, a hearty platter of grilled shrimp with generous spices is another tasty alternative.