Scottish Field wine columnist Peter Ranscombe trawls the coast for five wines to go with seafood.
SCOTLAND is blessed with world-class seafood – our langoustine graces the plates of top-end restaurants in Spain, our mussels and oysters are the stuff of legend, and our salmon was the first fish and foreign product to attain the Label Rouge quality mark in France back in 1992.
With such esteemed ingredients, there’s pressure to find the best wines to match – and this little collection are more than up to the challenge.
As a rough rule of thumb, we’re looking for fresh styles – like sparkling wine or crisp white wine – to match the freshness of the ingredients and complement those tangy and salty flavours from the sea.
When we start adding butter to our sauces then there’s the opportunity to explore wines with creamier textures too.
Wine regions that also have a strong seafood heritage – like Bordeaux, the Loire or Picpoul de Penet in France, the Italian islands of Sardinia and Sicily, or Galicia in North-West Spain – are a great starting point, but it’s worth exploring the New World too, especially if you’re a sauvignon blanc fan.
Hush Heath Estate Balfour Brut Rosé, 2014
Fine Wine Company
Sparkling wines like this splash-out English fizz are a classic pairing for fish and chips or smoked salmon. I’m a big fan of Hush Heath’s still wines, but it’s the sparklers for which this Kent estate is best known. There’s a pronounced intensity to the fruit that jumps out of the bottle after the cork has been popped, with green apple, strawberry and raspberry flavours taming the crisp acidity. Forman & Field recently teamed up with Hush Heath to pair this rosé with its London-cured royal fillet Scottish smoked salmon as a gift pack and the two tasted sensational together. Keep an eye out for the non-vintage Hush Heath Balfour 1503 Rosé (£20, Tesco) too.
When In Rome Grillo
£24.99 for 2.25 litres
High-class, bag-in-box Sicilian Grillo that’s a lemon sole-lovin’ steal at what would be £8.33 a bottle. It’s like a lesson in lemons, from tart freshly squeezed juice through to richer and rounder curd, taking in a sprinkling of sherbet along the way. This is enough to erase any memories of the low-quality bag-in-box wines that were only fit for emergency campsite rations – it would be a classy wine whether it was in a box or a bottle. It’s fast becoming my new house white, with the producer believing it will stay fresh for six weeks in the fridge.
Liveland Lievlander Chenin Blanc, 2018
All About Wine
Among the best South African chenin blanc I’ve sipped this season; crisp and fresh yet balanced by concentrated fruit. Lievand only uses free-run juice to produce this wine, so it doesn’t squeeze the grapes too tight, extracting only the intense green apple and apricot flavours and leaving behind any sour notes. I love this crisp and fresh style of chenin, but the grape also responds well to oak ageing, as demonstrated in the creamier and rounded Lievland Old Vines Chenin Blanc (£14.14, Corking Wines), which has a richer red apple flavour and a dollop of vanilla. Tasting the wines brought back happy memories of last year’s adventures in South Africa.
Bodegas Castro Martin A2O Albarino, 2016
What grows together goes together and Galicia’s albarino grape is one of the ultimate matches for seafood. I always look for family-run Bodegas Castro Martin’s A2O albarino on restaurant menus or bottle shop shelves. It’s made in a fresh and modern style, with pretty honeysuckle aromas and fruity peach and apricot flavours to balance its tingling acidity. I’m also a big fan of the Martin Codax Albarino (£14.99, Valvona & Crolla), which has more of the traditional green apple and mineral notes, alongside the same refreshing acidity, which makes these wines ideal seafood companions.
Ad Hoc Hen & Chicken Chardonnay, 2017
Buttery Cullen skink calls for a chardonnay with a rounded texture balanced by a kick of freshness. There’s enough vanilla flavour and richness from the eight months the wine spent in French oak barrels to add a delicious roundness to the feeling of the chardonnay in the mouth but doesn’t mask the pear and red apple notes. It’s the freshness of the acidity that stops the combination with the soup from becoming too cloying. Ad Hoc Hen & Chicken is also a great match for rice-based dishes, like kedgeree.