How can wine bring out the salt spray and juicy texture of surf and turf? With so many different types of meat on your plate, pairing the right vintage is a task easier said than done.
For that unaware, surf and turf is a term used for seafood dishes paired with red meat (usually steak). This combination is beloved throughout the West for combining the classic brine of the ocean with more robust, fatty flavors.
While cocktails and beer are common drinks with surf and turf, more people today are turning to wine for their food pairings.
How do you bring out the best in seafood, red meat, and wine? We’ll get you started with our handy surf and turf wine pairing guide below.
Surf And Turf Wine Pairing – The Best Red Wine
Red wine is a powerful drink at the best of times due in no small part to high tannin and acidity levels. Pairing one with surf and turf is a balancing act we’ll make much easier with the following suggestions.
When in doubt? Pour a glass of pinot noir. This balanced red wine is never too sour or too bitter, hovering in a tasty middle ground of red fruit and earthiness.
A fresh, unoaked pinot noir will be bright and tangy, leaning toward flavor notes of raspberries, strawberries, and ripe cherries. An oaked pinot noir will have more rustic, earthy flavor notes and faint hints of vanilla.
We Recommend Pinot Noir For Surf And Turf With: Filet Mignon, Rib Eye or Salmon
Pinot noir is already closely associated with steak, so which seafood should you add to your dish? We highly recommend salmon thanks to the fish’s savory flavor and meaty texture.
Just about any steak will go with pinot noir, but consider filet mignon or rib eye for your platter.
Grenache hovers in the same taste profile as pinot noir, making a name for itself as a popular French wine grape that pairs easily with several meals. Where this grape differs is its blend of red and citrus fruit.
Alongside classic notes of sweet cherry and raspberry, you can also expect to find subtle hints of orange rind. Oak aging will add hints of tobacco spice and anise to the mix, making this wine a suitably complex choice for an already complex dish!
We Recommend Grenache For Surf And Turf With: Grilled Steak, Sea Bass or Trout
Your surf and turf shouldn’t be drowned out by your wine (pun intended). Grenache is tangy enough to add a kick to your seafood, but give it a helping hand by pairing it with heartier fish.
Sea bass and trout both have gentle flavors that easily absorb any seasonings or smoke they’re cooked in. Their fatty, hearty meat is also a welcome complement to grenache’s juicy constitution.
Unsurprisingly, this logic also extends to a medium-rare or rare slab of steak.
If fish aren’t quite your style, you’ll want to check out lambrusco for your next surf and turf venture. This Italian sparkling red wine is as fun to drink as it is to pair!
Lambrusco is a term that refers to both the wine grape and blends made predominantly with the wine grape. This wine’s flavor notes are quite flexible as a result, ranging from crisp watermelon and cherries to a bloom of mandarin orange.
If you prefer a robust, tangy glass, try a Lambrusco Salamino. If you need a floral finish, pour yourself some Lambrusco di Sorbara instead.
We Recommend Lambrusco For Surf And Turf With: Veal and Shrimp
Do you want a shrimp scampi or stir-fry-like dish alongside your slabs of steak? Lambrusco goes wonderfully with shrimp thanks to its zesty character and gentle sweetness.
The mild and moist flavor of veal won’t be overpowered with lambrusco, either!
Surf And Turf Wine Pairing – The Best White
Want to step away from red wine for a minute? White wine is commonly associated with surf and turf for good reason: many white wine grapes thrive in Mediterranean environments.
The king of seafood wine pairings goes to chardonnay. This fragrant and decadent white wine comes in several wonderful varieties that easily complement fish, scallops, and shellfish.
Depending on the origin, chardonnays without oak come in flavor notes of stone fruit or tropical fruit. An oaked chardonnay will boast characteristic flavor notes of butter and vanilla with a creamy mouthfeel.
For more mellow and subdued flavors, go for a French bottle. If you prefer oaky flavors, try a Californian origin.
We Recommend Chardonnay For Surf And Turf With: Grilled Steak, Lobster or Scallops
If shellfish is more your style, you’ll want to keep the chardonnay around. Fresh chardonnay is a delicate contrast to scallops, providing notes of peaches or papaya to balance out the sea.
On the other hand, oaked chardonnay is a go-to choice for many with lobster. The characteristically buttery flavor and creamy mouthfeel of an oaked bottle will make your lobster taste all the richer.
With such a powerful set of flavors at your disposal, we also recommend having your steak grilled.
If chardonnay is too rich for your tastes, the quintessentially dry albariño may be your meal ticket. This wine leans away from sweet and savory characteristics in favor of a bright, citrusy profile.
Pairing young albariño wine with surf and turf will give you plenty of lemon zest, nectarine, and grapefruit to balance out the meaty flavors. If you want a touch less acidity, try a bottle aged albariño to enjoy a peachy and nutty finish.
We Recommend Albariño For Surf And Turf With: Veal, Grilled White Fish or Seared Scallops
Steer clear of fattier, richer seafood in favor of flaky white fish or scallops. Your wine will be delicate enough to let its flavors shine through, yet dry and acidic enough to leave an impression of its own.
Steer clear of hefty steaks and rare cuts of meat so you don’t lose your wine’s flavor. A few slices of veal will go a long way with this tart wine.
Surf and turf is a salty and oily dish, so the more contrast your wine provides, the better. Marsanne provides a hefty arrangement of lemon, honey, and toasted almond notes that will shine a new light on your dish.
This French wine grape is distinctive for having a unique mouthfeel often compared to beeswax. Since it’s also a dry wine, marsanne is a wise choice for balancing out the oil and brine of surf and turf.
We Recommend Marsanne For Surf And Turf With: Steak, Crab, Shrimp, and Lobster
With such complex flavor notes, it’s no surprise marsanne is extra compatible with surf and turf staples. The best choices are the meatier and richer meats, so steer clear of delicate shellfish in favor of crab and lobster.
The one and only sauvignon blanc is a must-try white wine with surf and turf. This white wine is fundamental to many seafood dishes not just as a drink pairing, but as a cooking ingredient.
The main detail to sauvignon blanc’s success is its cheek-puckering acidity, leaning toward notes of lemon, lime, and passionfruit. You may also have slightly salty or grassy finishes that will bring out the freshness in your meat.
We Recommend Sauvignon Blanc For Surf And Turf With: Lamb, Oyster, Scallops, and Prawns
Since sauvignon blanc is so tart and bright, your seafood needs to lean toward the lighter side. When you consider how common it is to garnish oysters and prawns with lemon, the zesty notes of sauvignon blanc make immediate sense.
Step outside of steak in favor of a gamey rack of lamb. A roasted platter will give you a little smoke to balance out the wine’s tanginess.
Do you have a sweet tooth? Riesling will give you the juicy pop of acidic white wine with a sugary kick, perfect for a salty surf and turf scramble.
Riesling flavor notes are usually yellow apple, pear, and honey. If you want an even sweeter bottle, try German origins. If you lean toward a drier and more floral profile, get a Californian bottle. Oaked rieslings will give you hints of vanilla and cloves that can be absolutely divine with red meat.
We Recommend Riesling For Surf And Turf With: Prime Rib, Grilled White Fish or Light Tuna
Lean toward grilled white fish such as cod or halibut to let your wine’s sweet nature shine through. Tuna is another solid option as long as you choose leaner varieties such as yellowfin.
If you want a more savory dish, prime rib is a go-to favorite with riesling due to its rich and juicy flavor.
Surf And Turf Wine Pairing – The Best Rosé
Let’s wrap up this list with one of the easiest drinking wines around: rosé! Surf and turf is a splashy dish, so the happy-go-lucky nature of blushing wine fits right in.
Rosé flavor notes commonly hover between red fruit and citrus, such as watermelon, raspberries, and lemon. This interplay of sweet and sour will enhance the fishy, salty, and juicy flavors of different meats easily.
We Recommend Still Rosé For Surf And Turf With: Flank Steak With Shrimp
Choose leaner cuts of steak to keep your blushing wine from being overwhelmed by all the rich, fatty flavors. Flank steak is a great pick to go alongside a mess of shrimp, especially if it’s fresh off the grill.
We Recommend Sparkling Rosé For Surf And Turf With: Rare Steak, Grilled Salmon or Fatty Tuna
If you need a sparkling variety, pair your rosé with a fattier dish such as grilled salmon or fatty tuna. The high acidity and bubbles will cut through fat to refresh your palate and freshen up the flavor.
A rare steak’s sumptuous juices will make your rosé’s citrus and melon notes sing.