Go Fish

I’m sure you’ve heard this hallowed wine pairing law: Thou shalt pair white wine with fish and red wine with meat.

You are now officially off the hook (line and sinker…) and have full permission to break the law.

Think about it; that’s akin to saying that you can only pair rosés with vegetables. Or only reds with beef, or sweet wines with desserts. All lies. There are really as many options for pairing seafood as there are fish in the sea. And if there’s one thing we coastal-dwellers pride ourselves on here in BC is our high quality and wide variety of seafood.

Pairing wine with seafood isn’t difficult as long as you proceed logically. As with any food and wine pairing, think about weight and balance; delicate raw fish and briny shellfish go best with equally delicate, light white wines. Richer, oilier fish will go better with a richer, more substantial white. If the fish is pink or red fleshed, like tuna or salmon, a rose or lighter red with a riff of tannic grip will be your best bet. And if your fish is smoked or sauced, that may end up driving your pairing decision.

There are some tried and true pairings that excel for a reason: Champagne and caviar, briny crisp whites with briny crisp oysters, chardonnay with lobster, fino with sardines, dry rose with bouillabaisse, salmon with pinot noir. Now in the thick of local halibut season, with spot prawns just around the corner (May 10), and the release of BC’s 2013 vintage reaching my glass, seafood and wine is top of mind. Personally, I always choose sustainable seafood whenever possible – just as I do with my wine selections. My selections below are totally different in style, but each make an excellent partner for seafood.

This Canada Day, Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver and YEW seafood + bar Executive Chef Ned Bell will set off on a challenge that could forever change the future of sustainable seafood in Canada. Last year the always ambitious and greatly passionate Bell launched Chefs for Oceans and cycled across Vancouver Island in support of healthy lakes, rivers and oceans; this year he’s taking on the entire country.

 On July 1, 2014, Bell will head out from St. John’s Newfoundland on the journey of his life as he cycles across Canada, all in the name of sustainable seafood.

I raise a glass to you, chef. In fact, I’ll gladly raise 5 glasses, one for each DRINK This selection below. Cheers!


cedarcreek roseLocavore

CedarCreek Estate Winery
Rosé 2013
Okanagan Valley, BC
* $18  +157412

Winemaker Darryl Brooker has been tinkering with the rosé since he arrived at CedarCreek, from taking it very lean and nearly dry in 2012 to slightly plumper in the 2013 vintage. This pinot noir rose is sourced from their Greata Ranch property, just south of Peachland and hanging over Lake Okanagan. While it’s common knowledge that the Fitzpatrick family recently sold CedarCreek Estate Winery to von Mandl Family Estates, they retained Greata Ranch Vineyards and are working on transforming Greata Ranch into a Sparkling Wine House. Their inaugural vintage of 2012 traditional method Sparkling Wine is already quietly resting on its lees and will be released in time for holidays 2015.

So enjoy this Greata Ranch sourced rosé while you still can! Wild ferment pinot noir fermented long and cool in stainless steel, preserving the alluring delicate fruit and hue. Savoury wild strawberries on the nose, with raspberry blossoms, spice, light earth and a touch of herbed cracker on the silky, pure fruited palate. Just a tad off dry with persistent spice lingering on the finish. Pair with seared albacore tuna or lighter salmon dishes. 88 points.


Cellar Dwellermatello

Cuvee Lazarus Pinot Noir 2011
Willamette Valley, Oregon
*$37 +648873

If you see a Matello label, scoop it up, because winemaker Marcus Goodfellow’s small lots do not last long and are rarely seen on our market. These exceptional wines come from small family-owned and operated vineyards in the northern Willamette Valley and are from sustainably raised, non-irrigated vines. His Lazarus cuvee is the first pinot noir release each vintage, providing a moment-in-time snapshot of the year as it is a blend from each of the vineyards Goodfellow works with. In the portfolio, this is his “entry level” pinot noir – a hugely promising sign for his other, single site pinots. Personally, I love the reds from this cooler 2011 vintage, with their lean edged fruit and rapier acidity. This is sourced from Whistling Ridge, Durant Vineyard, Winter’s Hill, Hoffarth, Hanson and Bishop Creek, is 40% whole cluster, fermented with native yeast and bottled unfined and unfiltered. Bright youthful fruit on first approach – bing and Rainier cherries, strawberries and light, earthy spice. The palate shows perfumed black raspberries and an herbal stem / lightly (and alluringly) bitter note before trailing into the finish with raspberry seeds and spice. Like all of his wines, savoury, finessed and evocative, and resolutely not “dumbed down”.  Enjoy now with grilled wild salmon or cellar for 5-7 years. 90 points.



Rudolf Muller
Bunny Riesling 2012
Pfalz, Germany
*$12.50   +786970

Rudolf Muller can afford to put whatever they want on their labels – they are the maker of the “Blue Bottle” Liebfraumilch – Germany’s most exported wine, and one that is responsible for introducing many folks worldwide into the world of wine. This Riesling from the Pfalz is a tad more serious, while remaining all the while gulpable. Demonstrating the region’s generous cushiness and ripe fruit, this gently off-dry wine is ripe peach and apricot fuzz, perfumed yellow and pink florals and mandarin orange. There is a pink grapefruit acidity to refresh, low alcohol (10%) and ample juiciness to make it a natural pair for your prawn-tossed and spiced Thai take out. 86 points.



Chardonnay 2012
Okanagan Valley, BC

Coolshanagh is a meeting place of friends. And you’d be right if you thought your eagle eyes have met up with Coolshanagh before. For many years, vineyard owner Skip Stothert leased the fruit to Foxtrot for their vineyard designated (and sought after) Coolshanagh Chardonnay. Stothert liked the fruit so much from his small vineyard 7km north of Naramata, however, that he decided to keep the vines for his own small label, and enlisted winemaker Michael Bartier and Okanagan Crush Pad to make his inaugural release. Chardonnay does very well on this calcium-carbonate rich soil, and the minerality pierces through in this striving,  focused and nimble white. One third is whole cluster fermented into neutral French oak, with the remainder into stainless steel. The two were then blended and set into OCP’s concrete eggs for lees contact, complexity and character building. Bright and chalk dusted, with lively acidity, tight citrus and green apple notes, finessed elegance, and a gently creamy, river stone rounded mouthfeel. Very promising first effort. This would be a natural for halibut or other white fish with a little weight. I paired it with lobster and tomato soup and it was a knockout. 89 points.


oysterstoutNo Wineos

Lighthouse Brewing Company
Desolation Imperial Oyster Stout

Talk about a ready-made food and beer pairing. BC’s first Imperial Oyster Stout was brewed with a shuck load of organic oysters, from Okeover Inlet, Desolation Sound off of Vancouver Island’s cold, pristine waters. The plump, small oysters were shucked on October 24, and added to the brew the next day, along with 10 (!) malts. This is absolutely a winter warmer – pouring very dark brown and creamy, with a thick head, heaps of cool, dark chocolately malts and a smooth palate. An interesting saline spiciness adds intrigue to the lingering finish. Pair with, what else, a plate of fresh oysters. 9.3% alcohol/volume.

TOP PHOTO: Braised Pacific Halibut with Spring Vegetable Ragout at Cafe Brio in Victoria. Photo by Rebecca Wellman for Island Wineries of British Columbia. 

Each week Treve highlights 5 timely and tasty picks. Her weekly choices include Locavore (BC wines), Cellar Dweller (wines to lay down for a while for maximum enjoyment), Budgeteer (wallet-friendly bottles under $15), Adventurer (wines for geeks, enlightening or pushing the envelope) and No Wineos (a non-wine pro-alcoholic beverage). So what are you waiting for?

DRINKing Guide: How to use our purchasing information.
*Asterisks denote wines that are only available at the winery or select private liquor stores. All other wines are available through BC Liquor Stores. The price is suggested retail price, and may fluctuate depending on source. Wines are scored out of 100 points.




Written By:

Treve Ring is a wine writer, editor, judge, consultant and certified sommelier, and has been with EAT Magazine for over a decade.\r\n\r\nIn addition to her work with EAT, she is a Wine Critic and National Judge for ...

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