Do you enjoy an adult beverage with dinner? Well, pull up a chair and get comfortable — today’s post is for you. 

Whether in a glass on the side or worked into your marinade, alcohol can be a great complement to seafood. However, since some types of fish and shellfish have such a unique, complex flavor, it’s important to choose the right alcohol for cooking or drinking. The wrong combination could seriously impact the taste of an otherwise delicious meal.

Here’s what you need to know about pairing seafood and alcohol:

Aim to counteract

Before choosing your wine, consider how the flavor notes will work with — not against — the flavors of your seafood. Most people think of drinking white wine with seafood, and this makes perfect sense. Similar to why lemon (and other citrus) go so well with white fish and shellfish, a dry white wine with notes of citrus can be the perfect meal companion. However, don’t count red wine out. Particularly if you’re enjoying a heartier seafood — like bacon-wrapped scallops, for instance — a nice red wine can really elevate the taste experience.

Bottom line: you don’t want the strong flavors of your drink to overpower your seafood, so aim to counteract and complement.

Salmon goes well with both red and white wines

Bacon-wrapped scallops aren’t the only seafood dish that you should consider pairing with red wine — salmon also goes well with multiple different types of wine. From a rich pinot noir to a dry pinot gris or chardonnay, salmon is an incredibly versatile fish to mix wines with. Let your marinade and preparation technique guide your decision, then pour a glass and enjoy.

Keep your liquor choices light

While there are certainly some exceptions, your best bets when pairing liquor with seafood are lighter spirits, like gin and tequila. Since both of those liquors also go well with citrus, it’s easy to see why a gin and tonic with lime or a margarita would be a great complement to white fish or shrimp tacos. Both gin and tequila can also act as great marinades with seafood — just be careful not to overdo it.

Don’t cook with something you wouldn’t drink

A common misconception is that you should save cheaper or less flavorful alcohol for cooking. However, while you don’t want to cook with your top shelf alcohol, using a wine or liquor that you wouldn’t even drink alone is only going to muddy up the flavor of your meal. Instead, choose a wine you enjoy, but that doesn’t break the bank.

Need recipe inspiration? Try this pan-seared cod in white wine tomato basil sauce.

Alcohol can help you make a great pan sauce

You know all the flavorful bits that get stuck to your sauté pan after you pan fry shrimp or fish? Try using wine or a light beer to deglaze the pan and scrape the remaining bits into the liquid for a flavorful sauce. You can also add other herbs, spices or butter to ramp up the flavor.

Of course, our final tip about seafood and alcohol hopefully goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: please drink responsibly.

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