Picking the Right White to Pair With Your North Carolina Seafood Favorites

North Carolina offers those who love wine a remarkable chance to enjoy a wide variety of flavors. In addition, our coastal waters and rivers provide diners with many options for both fresh and saltwater fish. No matter your fish choice, the wines of RayLen Vineyards will pair beautifully.

Fish that Keep Things Simple

When choosing a wine to pair with seafood, it’s important to consider the fat content in the fish. For example, mahi-mahi has a fairly mild and delicate flavor, so you want a wine with mild acidity and some sweetness, such as a Riesling. If you prefer a dryer white wine, try adding a bit of fat to the fish, such as with a creamy or buttery sauce. Now a wine with a bit more acid, like a Sauvignon Blanc, would serve well.

Strong Flavors Need Acid

If your fish choice is carnivorous, such as a shark filet or piece of swordfish, you have a built-in fat source. To counter this, you’ll want something with more heft. An oaky chardonnay would be ideal with a fish with a bit more fat to the mouth. For those who prefer a lighter wine, take a trip to one of the many farmers markets in Winston-Salem and find some tomatoes for a caprese salad. Whip up a balsamic vinaigrette and highlight the whole meal with a bright, cold pinot grigio.

Be Prepared

Make sure you consider your cooking time before you begin your seafood and wine pairing. Most fish dishes, especially if you’re grilling, won’t take much time. Get the wine chilled and fix your salad before you throw the tuna steaks on the grill so you can enjoy everything at the optimum temperature.


You will also find fresh shrimp and crab in the coastal waters of this beautiful state. Consider a cold Viognier, tossed spinach salad with a little bacon dressing, and a couple of ears of sweet corn for a special shrimp or crab dinner. Again, try to have everything ready to go before the fish hits the fire; the cooking time will be quick!

Drum Fish and Sauce Options

If you’re lucky enough to find a source for, or catch your own, drum fish, your wine choices are quite wide. This firm-fleshed fish can tolerate some baking time, so if you’re a fan of sauces, you can boost the meaty flavor of this fish with some fat or acid, as you choose. For those who love sautéed mushrooms in a sauce, pair your drum fish with some baked potatoes, a cucumber salad tossed with rice vinegar and olive oil, and a bottle of White Carolinius. This wine offers hints of both pineapple and lemon, so try a buttery sauce with a bit of paprika to intensify the earthy flavor of your drum fish.

Cajun? Why Not!

You may also find fresh flounder on your visit to the nearest Winston-Salem seafood market. This firm-fleshed white fish tolerates some heat and is ideal for blackening. If you’re ready for things to get spicy, try blackened flounder paired with a mild pasta salad and a glass of sparkling Brut. Celebrate the deliciousness and beauty that is North Carolina!

Freshwater Trout

The rivers of North Carolina are more than happy to give the coast a run for its money when it comes to fish. A lush filet of trout will serve as the base for an excellent meal when served with any number of white wines.

Like a lot of fish, trout is best when not fiddled with too much. Try plating it beside some grilled root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots or beets. A simple salad of leafy greens and a cream dressing, loaded with sour cream, mayonnaise, a little vinegar and some sugar, will serve well. Cook your trout over medium heat, and before you plate it, add just a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Don’t Forget Take-Out

If your schedule doesn’t give you much time to find recipes for fresh fish, don’t despair. You just worry about the wine and let Forsyth Seafood Market fix your shrimp, scallops, clams and oysters. Fried fish will have an inherent fat, so try to choose a wine with a higher acid content.

Acidic wine can be either sweet or dry, so feel free to choose that which best suits your taste. Both the Riesling and the Sauvignon Blanc would work extremely well with fried fish. In addition, if you don’t care for acidic wines, put out some cocktail sauce for dipping and chill a bottle of viognier or chardonnay for your Forsyth Feast.

If you live in the Winston-Salem area, you know the bounty of this beautiful state. For those planning a trip here, make sure you come hungry. Check out our restaurants, and make plans to visit our farmers markets, fish markets and wineries so you can plan a memorable meal built on the bounty of the state that was First in Flight.

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