Pairing wine with food is a bit of science and an art. A wine that complements the food and vice versa enhances both the food and the wine. The sum is much greater than its individual parts—and much more delicious.
There is, though, a general approach that will lead you to wine and food pairing success. And a company that knows a thing or two about pairing wines with home cooked meals is Blue Apron. We partnered with the meal delivery service’s wine and culinary teams to give you some guidance for choosing a wine with barramundi. (Fun fact: Did you know that you can get wine delivered from Blue Apron, too?)
Before we dive in, let’s get one thing straight:
“The number one rule about wine is that it should be fun!” says Blue Apron’s Tim Kemp, culinary manager, and Thad Morrow, wine director. We couldn’t agree more.
Now, on to the food.
“Barramundi can wear a lot of different hats. It’s at once very hearty and also light and clean tasting. It can stand up to aggressive preparation as well as things that are more subtle,” says Kemp.
Because of its versatility, barramundi is a great fish to play with in the wine world, says Morrow. Choosing a wine to go with barramundi really comes down to how the fish is prepared and what it’s served with.
“When it comes to pairing with red or white, I take into account the body of the fish. For example, is it fatty, or pretty neutral and friendly like barramundi? If so it can handle a medium-bodied red or fuller bodied white. If it’s accompanied with more mushrooms and earthy flavors, it can handle a heavier white or light red. If the preparation is light and fresh, you’ll want to take it in a lighter white direction,” says Morrow.
To put these tips into practice, let’s look at a real world scenario. In February, Blue Apron will be offering the following two (very different) barramundi recipes:
Crispy Barramundi with Melted Leeks & Roasted Vegetables: This Eastern European approach is a perfect winter dish. It pairs the sweetness and baseline flavors of the leek with the sweet funky notes of the broccoli, the earthiness of the potatoes, and the creaminess of the horseradish sour cream.
To marry the weight and texture of the dish, Morrow recommends a Chardonnay with a little bit of oak:
Clayhouse Wines Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County, California 2015: Straw in color with aromas of apple, orange peel, spice and vanilla, dry. It’s medium-full body with medium acidity.
And if you wanted to take it into the red category, Morrow recommends an Austrian red:
Cave de Theize (90% Gamay, 10% Pinot Noir) Coteaux Bourguignons, Burgundy, France 2014: Garnet in color with aromas of cherry, thyme, sage, and black pepper. It’s dry, medium bodied, high in acidity with medium tannins.
Crispy Barramundi with Quinoa, Roasted Carrot Salad and Salsa Verde: A brighter, crisper preparation that highlights winter citrus.
With the goal of reinforcing the dish’s herbal notes and lifting the salsa verde to cut some of the richness of the fish, Morrow recommends an Austrian Gruner:
Arco von Kammersbrundl Grüner Veltliner, Trocken Niederosterreich, Austria 2015: Pale straw in color with aromas of peach, apricot, white pepper, and beeswax. It’s dry, medium bodied with medium-high acidity.
And if you wanted to take it into the red category:
Arco Von Kammersbrundal, Zweigelt Niederosterreich, Austria 2015: Garnet in color with aromas of cherry, blueberry, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. It’s dry, medium-bodied with medium acidity and tannins.
What should you never pair barramundi with, no matter the preparation? Morrow recommends staying away from big, full-bodied and tannic red wines like Cabernet or Bordeaux. “There is a delicateness to the fish that you don’t want to overwhelm with a massive red wine.”