Wine Pairing with Scallops – What an Easy Feat!

Back with another repost from the ever so insightful Armchair Sommelier, of which I am a contributing writer. Today we’ll be looking at the best wine pairing with scallops. Best of luck in this and all your wine pairing adventures!

Scallops on a white plate.

Wine Pairing with Scallops

There’s something special about a perfectly cooked scallop. It’s the embodiment of all that’s good in the world – it’s buttery, creamy, and salty. Scallops also just so happen to be best served alongside my favorite food groups: pasta, cream, cheese, and wine.

Wine and scallops go together like peanut butter and jelly. The buttery texture and brininess pairs beautifully with fruity, acid-centric wines.

Now, I did the hard work of drinking wine and eating scallops so I could give you guys a comprehensive deep dive into the perfect pairing. Now, I’m here to tell you that it’s really quite simple.

A Quick Tip on Wine Pairings

White wine is the “rule” when it comes to seafood – but I’m a bit of a rule breaker. While I do agree that high-acid whites are an excellent choice for cream sauces, there’s definitely room for red at the table.

When considering which wines to pair with your scallop dish, use the following as a helpful guideline:

High acid- If the dish is high in acid, it should be paired with a wine greater in acid. Good examples of high-acid wines are Albariño, Vinho Verde, and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

High fat- A heavy cream sauce should be paired with either a high-acid wine (to cut through the sauce) or a similarly buttery/oily textured wine, such as an oaked Chardonnay.

Accentuating herbs and veggies- Savory herbs or added flavor from vegetables can make more varieties of wine fit the dish. For example, mushrooms or meat served with scallops would lend well to light or medium-bodied red wine such as Pinot Noir.

Orange pasta with scallop and edible flowers.

Best White and Rosé Wines to Pair with Scallops

White wine is a safe bet when it comes to lean seafood. The high acid cuts through creamy sauces without overpowering the delicate flavor of scallops. If high acid isn’t your thing, try pairing a creamy sauce with a like-minded wine with an oily mouthfeel.

Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand

A zesty, herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc is a scallop’s best friend. Vibrant citrus is met with green vegetal notes. This wine comes from the Marlborough region of New Zealand, the region known for exceptional Sav. Blanc.

Best Scallop Dish Pairing: Lemon Garlic Scallop Pasta

Pinot Grigio, Italy

Pinot grigio is another go-to choice for creamy seafood dishes. Green apple and lemon pierce through high-fat sauces while not overpowering the dish.

Fun fact: While Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same grape, the regions where they are made have a lot to do with each wine’s unique flavor profile. Pinot Grigio is typically dry with green apple and citrus notes, while Pinot Gris ranges from dry to medium sweet and has more tropical and honey flavors.

Best Scallop Dish Pairing: Scallop Ceviche

Chardonnay, California

This is an example of a pairing based on similarities. Creamy, buttery dishes can be paired nicely with full-bodied white wines, like an oaked Chardonnay. California is known for loving its oak, and this one is a perfect example.

Best Scallop Dish Pairing: Brown Butter Seared Scallops

Sparkling Wine, California

You can never go wrong with sparkling – I’m pretty sure that’s written somewhere on the bottle… Anyway, sparkling wine is sure to cut through even the heartiest of dishes. The accentuating flavors of toast, pear, and honey make this as good a choice before, during, and after your scallop course.

Best Scallop Dish Pairing: Coquilles St. Jacques, scallops cooked in a creamy wine sauce with breadcrumbs and cheese

Rosé, France

Rosé is a happy medium, making it a good choice for pairing with a salty scallop dish. The bright acid and subtle red fruit notes make it a good palate cleanser, not to mention a people pleaser. I mean, who doesn’t love rosé?

I chose a rosé from the Provence region in France because of its fruity and mineral flavor.

Best Scallop Pairing: Fried Scallops

Scallop with bacon and diced apple.

Best Red Wines to Pair with Scallops

Despite common knowledge, red wine can be paired with seafood. I recommend pairing lighter-bodied, fruit-forward red wines with seafood when there are secondary characteristics in the dish that you want to emphasize. Mushrooms, meat, or flavorful sauces can be elevated when paired with reds.

Sangiovese, Italy

Sangiovese is a high acid, high tannin Italian grape variety that works well with tomato-based, herbaceous dishes. Because of the strong fruit, herb, and earth profile of this wine, it would pair nicely with a dish packed with flavor.

Best Scallop Dish Pairing: Seared Scallops in Creamy Tomato Marinara Sauce

Pinot Noir, New Zealand

Pinot Noir is one of my first picks when it comes to red wine and seafood pairing. It’s high acid with low tannins, meaning it breaks through creamy sauces while offering a pleasant red fruit flavor that I sometimes prefer to a white wine.

I chose Pinot Noir from Central Otago, New Zealand, as they are known for making fuller-bodied Pinots. If you wanted a lighter-bodied Pinot, I would recommend one from Chile or Australia.

Best Scallop Dish Pairing: Surf and Turf

Final Words

I sincerely hope you’re craving scallops as much as I am right now – and that you feel more confident to select your next wine to pair alongside your scallop dinner.

One last tip, if you’re using wine as an ingredient in your scallop dish, then it’s probably a safe bet to serve that bottle alongside your finished dish. Beyond that, high-acid and fruit-forward wines are always a safe choice.

Regardless of which wine you select for your next scallop dish, just remember that the most important rule is that you enjoy it!

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