If you’re cooking up a delicious piece of halibut for dinner, you want to make sure that you pair it with the perfect wine. Picking the right wine can make or break a dinner, so this is not a choice to be taken lightly!
But what are the best wine pairings for halibut? Fresh, crisp white wines such as Chablis, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Grigio are normally paired with delicate fish dishes such as halibut. As an alternative, you could serve a fruity light red such as Pinot Noir, or a delicious chilled Elouan Rosé.
Struggling for inspiration for what wine to serve with your halibut recipe? Don’t panic, we’ve got all the bases covered here along with something to suit every palette and combination of ingredients!
What Is Halibut And What Does It Taste Like?
Halibut is an underused, underrated, and delicious type of fish that really should appear more often on our dinner tables!
Halibut is a flat fish and is most often sold in the form of steaks or fillets. The flesh of halibut is firm, with a mild but sweet flavor. Before cooking, the flesh is opaque, but after cooking it turns white.
The great thing about halibut is that it is very versatile — any fishy taste is subtle and pairs well with many different ingredients. It can be cooked alone or combined with other ingredients and sources.
The most common recipes for halibut normally use cooking techniques such as pan-frying, poaching, deep-frying, or braising. Popular pairings for halibut include tomato-based sauces, brown butter, and lemon.
The firm, white flesh of halibut also works very well in soups and stews. Halibut is low in fat, which does take some extra talent and skill if cooking on the grill.
Halibut is a popular choice for people who don’t particularly enjoy seafood.
Although it is very tasty, the flavor is relatively mild with minimal fishiness. This adaptable fish partners with and absorbs other flavors exceptionally well!
Another big advantage to eating halibut is that it is a sustainable fish option and is not considered to be endangered.
Making ethical and responsible food choices can be hard and more than a little overwhelming, so it’s nice to know that we can pick halibut with a clear conscience!
What Wines Pair Well With Halibut?
If you’re looking at the wine shelf in your local grocery store or wine merchant, the choices can seem endless! Selecting wines might seem like a magical art form, but it’s actually fairly straightforward once you know how flavors work together.
The most popular complement to any type of fish or seafood tends to be a dry white wine. So it stands to reason that most of the top picks in our list for wines that pair well with halibut are white wines!
However, some white wines taste great with seafood and fish, while others do not work together with any seafood flavor at all.
Because halibut has a relatively delicate flavor, it does not stand up well to robust and hearty wines.
For this reason, it is normally paired with crisp white wines with fruity or citrus undertones.
However, if your halibut recipe includes hearty ingredients such as tomato, you may be able to diversify your wine choice somewhat. Choosing a slightly sweet red wine or a fruity rosé can help to lift the flavor profile of your halibut recipe!
Best Wine Pairings With Halibut
So now, down to the big question — what are the best wines for halibut?
We’ve got some great options for you here, from some common favorites found at every wine merchant to some rarer, more unusual wines!
For each one, we’ve given you the key flavor notes of the wine and also discussed which type of halibut dishes it would work best with.
Basically, here’s everything you need to help take the guesswork out of choosing the best wine to pair with your halibut dish!
|Rank||Wine||Serve With||Flavor Notes||Recommendation|
|1||Chablis||Pan-fried halibut steak||A crisp white wine combining green apple and lemon notes with mineral undertones||Brocard Sainte Claire Chablis 2020|
|2||Sauvignon Blanc||Oven-baked halibut served with roast potatoes and steamed green vegetables||Flavor Notes: A crisp white wine with grassy and herbal notes, blended with green apple and citrus or stone fruits||Dashwood Sauvignon Blanc 2021|
|3||Pinot Noir||Spicy, tomato-based halibut stew||A dry red wine with notes of cherry and raspberry||Copain Les Voisins Pinot Noir 2017|
|4||Vermentino||Oven-baked halibut with a herby crust||A light-bodied white wine with floral, nutty flavors||Sella & Mosca La Cala Vermentino 2019|
|5||Elouan Rosé||Summery halibut with pomegranate and new potato salad||A complex strawberry and plum flavored Rosé with a hint of spicy pepper and cloves||Elouan Rose 2021|
|6||Chardonnay||Baked halibut with a creamy mushroom sauce||An oaky white wine with fruity, buttery flavors||Novellum Chardonnay 2020|
|7||Pinot Grigio||Halibut steamed with lemon juice and dill||Fresh and clean white wine with notes of tropical fruits and citrus||Schiopetto Pinot Grigio 2018|
Serve With: Pan-fried halibut steak
Flavor Notes: A crisp white wine combining green apple and lemon notes with mineral undertones
In our opinion, pan-frying halibut steak is the ultimate way to serve this delicious fish, and there is no better wine to complement it than a crisp, cold glass of Chablis!
If you were to only ever pick one type of white wine to serve with fish, then Chablis would hit the spot every time.
The reason for this is that Chablis is the ultimate crisp wine. The flavor is best described as a combination of green apple, lemony citrus tone, and base notes of minerals such as flint and chalk.
These flavor notes pair perfectly with the sweet, mild, and slightly caramelized taste of a pan-fried halibut steak.
The reason that Chablis has such a crisp flavor is that it is actually an unoaked version of Chardonnay from the Chablis wine region of France. This gives it a delicious freshness that is often lacking in its oak-aged counterparts.
Chablis is also a great palate cleanser, so would work well if you were serving your halibut in a cream-based sauce!
2. Sauvignon Blanc
Serve With: Oven-baked halibut served with roast potatoes and steamed green vegetables
Flavor Notes: A crisp white wine with grassy and herbal notes, blended with green apple and citrus or stone fruits
Sauvignon Blanc is a crisp, dry white wine originating from France. It is most notable for its grassy herbal flavor combined with hints of citrus, such as grapefruit and lime, or stone fruits, like nectarine and apricot.
This is the perfect combination to add more character to your halibut without taking anything away from the delicate flavor.
This wine also works exceptionally well if you want to serve your halibut with crisp roast potatoes and freshly steamed green vegetables. The dry wine will help to refresh your palate, while also bringing out the very best in the flavors!
As with all white wines, make sure your Sauvignon Blanc is served perfectly chilled with your fish dish. For the ultimate chilled glass of wine, consider placing your glasses in the chiller for a short period before serving.
3. Pinot Noir
Serve With: Spicy, tomato-based halibut stew
Flavor Notes: A dry red wine with notes of cherry and raspberry
Okay, so we’re going to suggest something now which would want to be unthinkable in wine connoisseur circles: pair red wine with fish!
Let’s face it — not everybody likes white wine, and sometimes your guests might prefer a glass of red with their dinner.
If you are cooking a heartier halibut dish, such as one with tomatoes and spicy flavors, then you can’t go wrong with a glass of Pinot Noir!
Pinot Noir is an earthy, dry red wine with flavors of cherry and raspberry. It has a spicy aroma and a slight hint of sweetness. This works surprisingly well with spicy flavors, particularly ginger and garlic!
This wine choice is low in tannins, giving it a smooth and silky flavor. If you were going to just pick just one red wine to serve with a delicate fish such as halibut, then this would be our top choice!
Serve With: Oven-baked halibut with a herby crust
Flavor Notes: A light-bodied white wine with floral, nutty flavors
For our next choice, we have a white wine that might not be as commonly available, but is well worth seeking out!
Vermentino is a classic Italian light-bodied white wine. Its flavor is a distinctive blend of floral, nutty, and herbal notes.
This makes it an exceptional pairing for more herby halibut dishes, particularly those that have a pesto-based sauce!
The delicate, fruit-based flavors of citrus, apple, and tropical fruits are all ideal partners for the subtle, sweet flavor of your halibut.
5. Elouan Rosé
Serve With: Summery halibut with pomegranate and new potato salad
Flavor Notes: A complex strawberry and plum flavored Rosé with a hint of spicy pepper and cloves
Another exception to white wine on our list: pick a quality Rosé instead!
Rosé wines have long had an undeservedly terrible reputation due to the mass production of overly sweet and fruity wines.
While there are many terribly sweet Rosé wines available, we highly recommend trying out a top-class bottle, such as Elouan Rosé.
This wine is so full of complex flavors that every sip really does taste like a little mouthful of summer. We guarantee it will completely change the way you think about Rosé wines!
Elouan Rosé combines a subtle, earthy, grassy flavor with aromas of jasmine and honeysuckle, alongside fruity undertones of kiwi, banana, grapefruit, and pear. Added to this is a delicate hint of vanilla, spice, juniper, and pepper!
A quality Rosé wine will work perfectly with summery fish dishes, alongside ingredients such as super sweet cherry tomatoes or a fresh pomegranate and new potato salad.
Serve With: Baked halibut with a creamy mushroom sauce
Flavor Notes: An oaky white wine with fruity, buttery flavors
You might be surprised that Chardonnay features so far down on this list. After all, this is arguably the most famous white wine — and the bottle everyone normally reaches for when they’re cooking a fish dinner!
However, halibut is a very delicate and mild-flavored fish, and the oakiness of Chardonnay can sometimes overpower this.
There is an exception here, and that is when your halibut is in a cream-based dish! In this situation, a quality Chardonnay is the perfect palate cleanser.
7. Pinot Grigio
Serve With: Halibut steamed with lemon juice and dill
Flavor Notes: Fresh and clean white wine with notes of tropical fruits and citrus
Pinot Grigio (or Pinot Gris) is a mutation of the Pinot Noir grape. The main difference between these wines is how they are produced — Pinot Grigio is not made with grape skin, so it has a lighter color and flavor than its red relative.
This is a medium-bodied, fresh white wine with a vast array of fruit and citrus flavors that is clean-tasting and very easy to drink.
The citrus notes in Pinot Grigio work particularly well in lemon-based halibut recipes. Pinot Grigio can range in sweetness, so look for a medium-dry version if you can find it!