Traditionally, when you think of Pub Style Fish & Chips, you immediately imagine pairing this timeless dish with a beer, such as an Ale, Pilsner or Lager (I’m in Canada, and love Fish and Chips with Creemore Springs Lager) However, wine does have its place on the table, among the greasy warm newspaper that you may have brought your fish and chips home in. Crisp wines with tropical or citrus flavours such as Pinot Grigio, an Unoaked Chardonnay and Riesling are all excellent with Fish and Chips. Meanwhile, all manner of dry Sparkling Wines or Dry Rosé are lovely as well.
Italian Pinot Grigio and Fish & Chips Pairing
Italian Pinot Grigio is a white wine that you’ll be able to find by the glass in any pub or restaurant serving Fish & Chips (along with having a liquor license of course). With an Italian Pinot Grigio, you have an acidic white wine wine that has subtle flavours of lime, lemon, pear, apple and bitter almond.
While not overly strong, Italian Pinot Grigio does a great job of adding subtlety to any dish. The zesty acidity lifts the batter off the fish and rejuvenates the tender fish flavours and textures that have been blasted away by the deep frier. Meanwhile, the lime, lemon, apple and pear flavours keep your mouth refreshed, and your taste buds interested in the next bite.
If you prefer a wine with a fruity flavour, an American Pinot Grigio may be up your alley, just expect less zippy acidity.
Picpoul de Pinet and Fish & Chips Pairing
Perhaps a little difficult to find, but worth mentioning, Picpoul de Pinet is a tart white French wine that loves seafood and anything deep fried. Made from the Picpoul Blanc grape, and grown in the Languedoc-Roussillon region Picpoul de Pinet has grown in popularity (and you’ll find winemakers in California and Washington producing their own regional versions). In English, Picpoul translates to “stings the lip” which is rather fitting due to the wine’s high acidity and bone dry body.
What makes Picpoul de Pinet so fabulous with Deep fried fish is that it has a tart lemon flavour combined with a mineral salinity. The tart lemon flavour cuts through the deep-fried batter and electrifies the tender fish flavours within. Meanwhile, the mineral salinity of Picpoul de Pinet mirrors that of the ocean, so it complements the flavour of the sea from which the fish came. On top of lemon, expect flavours of melon, peach, and crushed wet stone to further elevate this pairing.
For similar reasons, you’ll find an off-dry Riesling (so not sweet) will work just as well your pub-style fish and chips and much easier to find on the shelf or by the glass.
From its looks alone, Rosé might not be for everyone. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a beer-swilling American male confident enough in his masculinity to be caught drinking a pink beverage in a Traditional pub. However, we assure you, this is a dry and crisp wine. Despite its pink colour, it is not sweet at all. While you will get notes of raspberry, strawberry, and cherry, what stands out with Rosé is its crisp acidity that cuts through the deep-fried fish batter and lifts out all the tender fish flavours.
Rosé might not be served everywhere, and I’ve rarely seen it by the glass in traditional pubs in my neighbourhood where beer is the big seller. You will find Rosé at more experimental or food-driven restaurants as owners have recognized that Rosé is an incredibly food-friendly beverage.
Sparkling Wine with Fish & Chips
With all of our pairings above, we’ve sort of skipped out on the Chips portion of Fish and Chips. While Picpoul de Pinet, Rosé and Italian Pinot Grigio won’t clash with French Fries, they don’t necessarily add anything to your enjoyment of them either. This is where sparkling wine shines as the high acid, bubbles, and yeasty flavors of your typical Sparkling Wine complement the salt, fat, and heavy carbs of both the deep fried Fish & Chips. Most people would argue that Champagne is the best style of Sparkling wine you could pick, but my preference is Prosecco from Italy.
Prosecco has a slightly sweet component, along with a bright acidity that makes it refreshing when pitted against the starchy carbs of the french fries. The slight sweetness and acidity have a similar effect that ketchup has. (although instead of tomato flavours you get a slightly nutty flavour with Prosecco). Best yet, Prosecco is relatively inexpensive when compared to Champagne, which is perfect when treating yourself to a Friday afternoon plate of fish and chips.
While we rank this a 3.5/5, it’s more of a 4/5. We’re taking off half a star as not every pub will have Sparkling Wine by the glass on hand. If you’re enjoying your Fish & Chips at home, it might not be worth cracking open a bottle of Sparkling Wine if only one person decides to partake in this bubbly beverage.
Chardonnay and Fish and Chips Pairing
Chardonnay is a popular white wine that you will most likely find for sale by the glass in most pubs. The most common style is an oaked Chardonnay which has rich flavours of vanilla, toast, butter, and tropical fruit. While fuller in body, Chardonnay is still crisp enough to cut through the Fish and Chip batter. The silky buttery flavours complement the body of the Fish and Chips while the tropical fruit flavours add a nice depth to the pairing. Finally, when it comes the the ‘chips’ aspect, we all know from experience a touch of butter flavour has always made any potato-based dish taste a bit better.