Wine with fish 'n' chips? Whatever next?!

What wines go best with fish 'n' chips?

What wines go best with fish 'n' chips? - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

I am often asked what I would drink with fish ‘n' chips, that quintessential English dish that is most often eaten as a takeaway meal. Depending on how I feel I might say beer, water, or tea but most often my answer is white wine, and that seems to be a surprise to some.  

The choice of which white wine is based on the key elements of fish, potato, and batter. Adding vinegar adds another element altogether that is difficult to match with wine as it can mar the  flavour completely!  

Dry, crisp white wines with a fresh flavour are a great match to white fish including French wines from the Loire Valley such as those from Saumur based on appley Chenin Blanc, Sauvignons for which the region is renowned including the new appellation the Coteaux de Giennois.

Similarly, zesty New Zealand Sauvignons, or some of the light Chenin Blancs from South Africa go well too, not forgetting an Italian Pecorino or Sicilian Catarratto. These wines act like a squeeze of lemon on the fish and enhance the taste. 

If you prefer a slightly softer rounder white wine try matching a full flavoured Californian, Chilean or Australian Chardonnay that has been oak-aged for a few months. The lovely slightly creamy notes will match the batter and chips as will an aromatic fruity Argentinian Torrontes or New World Viognier.  

Light rosé wines that are a delicate shade of pink with a flavour to match are not the ideal match to this dish as the batter and vinegar would override the nuances of the wine. A better pairing would be the fuller rosés made from Merlot grapes in Chile, or Malbecs in Argentina or New Zealand and Garnacha in Spain would be ideal as their richer textures would complement the food. 

Good quality fish and chips deserve a quality wine and one of the best matches I have tried is fizz with the luxury choice of Champagne if you fancy splashing out, or why not a delicious sparkling wine? The sparkle and lovely fresh balanced crisp wine notes and the white fish with chips make a great combination. 

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I have deliberately left out red wines as the tannins they contain, even the lighter styles, are not a natural choice to pair with this dish. The best option to complement the food is a New World soft rounded ripe Malbec or a Shiraz. Choose from the lighter balanced styles of these wines that are slightly lower in alcohol as they will not overpower the flavour of the fish or potatoes. 

It is harder to choose a wine to match this dish if you enjoy added salt and vinegar – perhaps the solution here is to enjoy a beer or cup of tea whilst eating and have a bottle of your favourite wine afterwards thus savouring both the food and the wine! 

Fish n’ chips is worth enjoying with wine – experiment with your favourite styles to find the best match as there’s plenty to choose from