Scallops are a delicious seafood treat for anyone who loves shellfish. There are two types to choose from, bay scallops and sea scallops. Sea scallops are found in the deep ocean, no surprises there, while bay scallops tend to be in shallower waters. Both types are equally delicious. Choosing the right wine with your scallops can help you get the most out of them, which is why this post focuses on the best wine pairing with scallops.
First off, you should know that we’re not going to recommend a single type of wine. Doing so doesn’t work well, as there are always multiple types of wine for any single food. After all, there are plenty of different things to consider, including the flavor and texture of your food, along with the acidity, flavors, and body of your wine – not to mention your own personal preferences.
Instead, we’ll talk about a selection of wines. For each, we’ll highlight why the wine pairs well with scallops. We’ll also talk a little bit about why the pairing works and what you can expect.
It’s best to take these pairings as suggestions, rather than hard and fast rules. Wine pairing is a little bit of an art and people vary in the combinations that they enjoy the most. Don’t be afraid to try out new wines, including unexpected ones. You never know what discoveries you’ll make.
Table of Contents
Best Wine Pairing With Scallops
- Pinot Gris
- Pinot Noir
If you’re eating scallops raw or as part of ceviche, then a dry white wine like pinot gris is the best choice. This way, you’re getting a nice and bright drink that doesn’t have too many complex flavors.
After all, you want the flavor of the scallops to be the main part of your meal and raw scallops tend to have a subtle flavor. The wrong wine choice could easily overpower the scallops, which defeats much of the point of eating them.
Pinot gris is also an easy wine to find and it’s flexible enough to pair well with other foods at the same time. You could also look for a pinot grigio. Pinot gris and pinot grigio are made from the same type of grape and the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. But, there are some differences, as pinot grigio tends to be lighter and crisper than pinot gris.
If pinot gris isn’t your style, then you could try a dry riesling instead. This tends to be a light white that is notable for its high acidity. It ends up being a vibrant wine too. Once again, this wine is best if you’re focusing on raw scallops.
Riesling also has the advantage of being an easy type of wine to find. You don’t need to hunt for long to find a good bottle of riesling and you’re not likely to blow your budget either. This could make riesling perfect if you’re serving scallops as part of a relatively casual meal.
The characteristics of riesling also make it ideal if you’re serving your scallops with an Asian-style dressing. This type of meal could be perfect with a dry riesling or an off-dry one.
Chardonnay is a rich white wine that is known for its buttery flavor tones. It can be too much if you’re eating scallops as part of a ceviche, but is perfect if you’re searing the scallops instead.
After all, searing scallops tends to add to their flavor. You often get a little caramelization too, especially if you’re using butter or onion in your dish. Because of this, a light white like pinot gris just won’t be enough.
A slightly oaked chardonnay is an especially good choice here. This provides an extra depth of flavor and more structure than you get with a young bottle of chardonnay.
You could also consider white burgundy, which is a type of chardonnay produced in Burgundy, France. The climate and traditions of the region provide you with a chardonnay that is a little different than chardonnay from other parts of the world. Many people think that white burgundy is the absolute best type of chardonnay. Even if you’re not convinced, it’s worth giving white chardonnay a try at least once.
Chardonnay can also work well with some rich scallop-based meals. For example, a scallop risotto goes perfectly with chardonnay, especially if you’re also including either crab or lobster as ingredients.
Condrieu is a wine appellation in northern Rhône, where the white wines are exclusively made from viognier grapes. Most, but not all, of the viognier wines come from within this region. The condrieu whites tend to follow a dry style, which is perfect for pairing with seared scallops.
Once again, it’s worth looking for wine that has been aged for a while. This provides the wine with enough complexity to complement the flavors of your meal without being overwhelmed.
Condrieu might be more difficult to find than the other white wines that we’ve featured on this list. Still, it’s often worth going the extra mile to get the perfect wine for your dish.
If you’re serving baked or roasted scallops, then champagne can be a surprisingly good choice. The main reason is that many recipes that rely on baking or roasting scallops are rich and creamy. You want a wine that can cut through some of the richness of the dish, without compromising the other flavors in the process.
When doing so, look for a chardonnay dominant champagne. This type of champagne with give you some of the flavor characteristics that you find with chardonnay, along with the freshness and bubbles of champagne.
If champagne isn’t in your budget, you could focus on a different type of sparkling white wine instead. Many have a similar flavor profile and can work well too. After all, there are plenty of white wines that pair well with scallops. It shouldn’t be too surprising that many sparkling wines perform the same role.
You can also look for a blanc de blancs champagne to serve with seared scallops. This choice works well because of how seared scallops end up with distinctive sweetness. The flavors of the champagne contrast well with the sweetness.
While seafood pairings almost always focus on white wine, there aren’t any hard-and-fast rules with wine pairing. Some red wines can be served with scallops too. The trick here is to focus on reds that are relatively light and have notable fruit flavors. This means avoiding high tannin red wines.
A Beaujolais wine can work well here, as it matches those criteria well.
You could even turn to Beaujolais nouveau, which is an unusual type of wine where the emphasis is on moving from harvesting to bottling very fast indeed. You’ll often find the wine being sold within a few months of harvest being completed. This approach can mean that Beaujolais noveau is poorly received but some bottles can be good and the light style of the wine is an interesting choice for scallops.
Pinot noir is an unusual choice for scallops. Even though the wine is on the light side, its high acidity means that it often wouldn’t be your first choice. However, the wine can be ideal with richer meals that rely on scallops.
A simple example is sauteed bacon wrapped scallops. The bacon adds an extra layer of flavor, creating a more complex dish that the pinot noir complements well.
Pinot noir is also a versatile wine, one that pairs with countless meals. This is an important feature if you’re not buying wine often or if you’re serving multiple types of food at the same time.
Speaking of unusual choices, you can also serve a rosé with scallops. Again, this choice works best when you focus on scallop dishes that have some strong flavors. In some ways a rosé is an even better choice, as you get some of the flavor complexity of a red wine and some of the lightness that comes with a white wine.
You can choose between a still rosé and a sparkling one. Both types will be excellent with scallops. A sparkling version can be even more appealing if you’re serving scallops at a party or some other occasion. You can end up making the event feel that much more special.
Rosés are often forgiving too, so it’s easy to find meals that they match perfectly with. Some people go as far to say that rosé goes with everything. This isn’t strictly true, of course, rosé is a poor choice for some meals. Still, you have to admit that it’s rare to find a rosé that ruins your meal. At worst, the match simply isn’t perfect.
Tips for Pairing Wine With Scallops
While scallops are meaty, they have a delicate flavor. Because of this, you need to be very careful with the wine that you choose. Many types of wine will overwhelm most of the nuances of your scallops. This is especially true if you’re eating scallops raw or mostly on their own.
As such, you’ll need to focus on light wines, especially those that have some vibrancy.
The main exception is meals that use some heavier flavors, like bacon or perhaps some type of glaze. Flavors like these allow you to focus on a wine with more body too, like the light reds that we mentioned as part of this list.
And, as always, experiment! You could start with wines that pair well with other types of seafood, like lobster, or check out various dry white wines. Many dry whites are a natural complement for the scallops.
Also, remember that the type of wine is only part of the equation. Take chardonnay, as an example, there are many different styles of wine that are considered chardonnay. And, even similar chardonnay wines have characteristics that set them apart.