Don’t you just hate it when seafood recipes simply call for “white wine”? Which white wine do you choose? There are thousands of options!
Shrimp scampi is especially tricky to pair with white wine. This is because it has a simplistic flavor profile that should enhance the seafood flavors. By choosing the wrong type of wine, you could just end up ruining the entire dish.
So, what are the best wines for shrimp scampi? We highly recommend trying a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio first. These are easy to find and will almost definitely work with any shrimp scampi recipe. Other great affordable options are Chardonnay, dry Riesling, and sparkling white wine.
Today, we will look at exactly what shrimp scampi is and how you should go about choosing the best white wine option to pair with it.
Then, we will look at some fantastic options, discuss their flavors, and why they work so well!
What Is Shrimp Scampi?
Many people are very confused about what shrimp scampi is. There is a crustacean called scampi, which also goes by the name of Dublin Bay prawn or Norway lobster.
This is traditionally the type of Italian dish that only uses scampi. But today, the easier-to-find crustaceans, aka shrimp, are included, hence the name.
The simplest type of recipe for shrimp scampi includes some garlic, salted butter, and white wine. This creates a nice flavorful sauce in which the scampi or shrimp are cooked.
Some people also include other ingredients to add more flavor. This can include some shallots, ground spices, chili, citrus juice, and grated Parmesan cheese.
The dish is really easy to make and very basic in essence. But, this is what makes it so incredible! You can play around with a bunch of ingredients, mix and match flavors, and ultimately create a fresh dish that works for you!
How To Choose A White Wine For Shrimp Scampi
Now, choosing the best white wine to make this shrimp scampi dish can be quite challenging. There are hundreds of types to choose from. Not to mention, each type from different brands, regions, and years will taste completely different.
At the end of the day, you have hundreds of thousands of options to choose from. So, we have created a small guide that will help you narrow down the list quite considerably!
But remember, at the end of the day, just like you love a Chardonnay from brand A doesn’t mean that you will love the one from brand B. So, the best way to find something you like is to keep experimenting with the flavors.
White Wine Type
Now, this seems pretty obvious and it may not feel like it would narrow down your choices.
However, if you think about it, by first eliminating the types of white wine you don’t like, you are eliminating entire categories. Then, you only have to look at a few different options within a variety.
For shrimp scampi, and most seafood dishes, a crisp dry white wine pairs best. This will also help narrow down the varietals by quite a lot.
These types of wines help elevate the natural seafood flavors while still adding a nice tart flavor.
It also helps to make the dish taste more fresh and light. After that, you can simply choose a wine that suits your flavor preference best.
Now, there is a massive misconception about wine and prices. The more expensive wines are not always the best. Why is that? Because the flavor of the wine is relative to its taster.
Some people love the flavor of a wine that happens to be thousands of dollars. But, they can love another type that costs less than a takeout meal.
You don’t necessarily have to break the bank to make a shrimp scampi recipe delicious. If you have a white wine that you like and it is crisp and dry, then it will work just fine.
The 5 Best White Wines For Shrimp Scampi
Here are our top 7 wine varietals that will work best with shrimp scampi. You can choose a varietal that you know you will love, or you can experiment with different types. So, let’s jump right into it!
1. Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon blanc is one of the most popular dry crisp white wines out there! It is made from a green-skinned grape varietal that originated in France. This grape is found in almost all wine regions of the world, part of what makes it so popular.
This white wine’s color can vary depending on hundreds of factors. However, generally, it ranges between a greenish-yellow or straw-like color to golden yellow.
Where your wine is from will arguably have the biggest effect on the exact color.
Then, when it comes to the flavor of the wine, generally it is dry, crisp, and uber refreshing. It also has high levels of acidity, which helps explain how it elevates the flavors so well.
It is a full-bodied wine with tons of mineral flavors (the refreshing part) followed by a grass-like flavor and citrus fruit.
Many also note strong tropical fruit flavors. This wine also has an ABV % (alcohol by volume percentage) of roughly 12.5-14%.
Depending on the exact bottle of Sauvignon Blanc you use, the flavor will vary slightly. But, the reason this wine varietal is our number one choice is that it is an almost fool-proof option to use!
It’s versatile, simple-flavored, and adds a richness that few others can.
2. Pinot Grigio
Also known as Pinot Gris, this wine is another common and versatile white wine option. It comes from a berry that varies in color from rose to gray-blue.
This helps give the wine a pinkish-gray, blue-gray, or pink-brown color profile. The exact color can also depend on how long the wine was in contact with the skins.
What makes this wine very unique is that while it is very fresh and crisp, it has a very complex flavor profile.
The most noticeable flavors among different bottles include spice (like pepper or chili), tropical fruits, stone fruits, and citrus fruits.
This wine is also not as acidic as most Sauvignon Blanc wines are. When ripe grapes were used for the wine, it tends to be a lot less acidic.
Another one of the most well-known white wines out there, this specific varietal produces a relatively neutrally-flavored wine. This makes it extremely versatile and each bottle will pair differently with flavors of shrimp scampi.
These wines are usually quite light-bodied but some can be heavier. It is also important to note that some chardonnay types are aged in oak, which makes their flavor a lot woodier and often more complex.
But, generally, you can have an apple, pineapple, vanilla (especially when oaked), and papaya flavors. And, like Pinot Grigio, it only has moderate acidity and ABV of 13.5 to 14.5%
4. Sparkling White Wine
Okay, so these are all the wines we usually call Champagne. But, as you know, that is a very specific sparkling wine that is only produced in Champagne, France. So instead, winemakers are simply labeling the wine as sparkling.
Now, this may seem like a very strange option to add to a dish. But, you would be surprised as to how incredibly good it is!
Your “Brut” options are usually the best. It is dry, but not as much as other options like Brut Nature or Extra Brut.
These wines also have a very broad range of flavors and it often fruity. You can also expect some sweetness in these, which is why we love it so much with shrimp scampi.
5. Dry Riesling
This is a specific category of flavors under the Riesling white grape varietal. This grape is used to create many wines, which is why we specifically highlighted its dry options.
This wine doesn’t have an exceptionally complex flavor profile, but you can pick up a lot of different notes. The most common are apples, peach, apricot, and pear. It is also highly floral in aroma and has a yellow color to it.
The reason we love this wine for shrimp scampi is that it will add a ton of fruitiness to the dish, unlike most other wines. It is crisp and will make a very refreshing dish. And, this wine is usually very low in alcohol (for a wine).
|Wine Varietal||ABV %||Flavor||Other Characteristics|
|Sauvignon Blanc||12.5-14%||Minerals Grass Tropical fruit Citrus fruit||A full-bodied wine with prominent flavors. High in acidity, making it easily enhances flavors. It is very easy to pair because of its flexible flavor.|
|Pinot Grigio||12.5-13.5%||Spicy (chili /pepper) Tropical fruit Stone fruit Citrus fruit||A dry crisp wine with a very complex flavor profile. Moderate acidity levels depending on the grape ripeness when harvested. Also has a fuller body than Sauvignon Blanc wines.|
|Chardonnay||13.5-14.5%||Apple Vanilla Papaya Pineapple||An extremely versatile flavor profile that is light to medium-bodied. Moderately acidic with a pale yellow straw color.|
|Sparkling Wine||12%||Fruity Sweet||Has a semi-sweet flavor with a dry mouthfeel. Creates a very interesting flavor profile when added to seafood dishes.|
|Dry Riesling||10-11%||Apple Apricot Peach Pear||Very simplistic wine with dry and crisp characteristics. Extremely fruity and will add those flavors directly into the dish.|