Scallops are found in every ocean and almost every cuisine around the world. Known for their delicate texture and decadent taste, you can find this versatile seafood cooked into a variety of different fine dishes.
The richness of scallops pairs well with wines that are equally rich in texture and flavor—but how do you know which wines will compliment your scallop dish?
Finding the Perfect Wine Pairing with Scallops
Whether they’re grilled, steamed, seared, or eaten raw, scallops are known for their deep, rich flavor. This natural richness pairs best with an acidic wine. The sharp taste can cut through the heavy taste of the scallops and keep your palate refreshed with every sip.
While you want to pick an acidic wine, it’s best to avoid selecting a wine that’s too strong—which means you should be cautious when picking a chardonnay or sauvignon blanc. The scallop's soft texture and gentle flavor means it can be easily overpowered by the taste of a strong, sweet wine.
Look for light flavors with a hint of sweetness or notes of fruit to complement the sweetness of the scallop.
Top Wine and Scallops Pairings
Scallops and wine can make the perfect match. But the right wine depends on the way the dish is prepared.
Grilled or Seared Scallops
Putting scallops on the grill is the perfect way to enhance their natural sweetness. This makes them a great match with a light chardonnay.
You can also complement the sweetness of the scallops with another sweet wine, like white Burgundy or champagne. Avoid any whites that are too strong or fruity—this could overpower the flavor of the scallops and leave them tasting flat.
Scallops with Herb Butter Sauce
A popular method of cooking scallops includes letting them marinate in a buttery herb sauce. Adding a buttery flavor and texture means you should look for heftier wines. With a rich, herb-infused sauce, it's best to go for a midweight white with strong acidity. This will play off the sauce and add a hint of tanginess to the meal.
The butter will also supplement the rich sweetness of the scallops, so try for a light citrus or herbal flavor to enhance the taste of every bite.
In a dish where there’s a highlight on the brininess of scallops, look for a dry wine to balance out the salty flavor.
Try a rosé with a refreshing berry flavor and strong acidity to cut through the saltiness. You can also look for a dry wine that echoes the delicate saltiness in the scallops—it will help bring out the essence of the sea.
Scallops with Pea Purée or Pea Shoots
A classic dish with scallops includes a base of pea purée or a side of pea shoots. If you're incorporating pea in the dish, you should go for something dry with an edge of sharp flavor.
Try a brut sparkler to cleanse your palate and enhance the flavor of the pea. A dry, sparkling wine will add a touch of tartness and just enough richness to complement the scallops, while also giving the pea base an extra kick.
Scallops with a Salad Base
Fresh ingredients like lettuce, spinach, thyme, oregano, lemon or scallions can be the perfect match for a scallop dish.
The rich texture of the scallops combined with the acidity of a salad means you should find a wine that fits right in between. Look for a white wine with enough sharpness to match the salad as well as a richness to match the scallops. Try a rich, full-bodied Merlot with a note of honey or a dark, yet vibrant fruit to bring the two ingredients together.
Scallops with Other Seafood
Adding different seafoods into the dish will only make it richer and heavier. If you’re mixing scallops with other seafood, like lobster or crab, you can go one of two ways.
To match the richness of the mixed seafood, you can go for a Chardonnay or a smooth white. If you want to drive a sharp contrast to bring out the flavor, look for a crisp sauvignon blanc.
Scallops with a Creamy Sauce
Another classic scallop recipe includes a rich, creamy sauce, often paired with pasta.
To offset a creamy sauce, look for a lighter white or chardonnay. You can also try to contrast the creaminess with a crisp, juicy Italian white like the pinot grigio.
Eating your scallops raw can really bring out the saltiness and intensity of the dish. For this reason, look for a light-bodied white with a hint of citrus, like the classic Albariño. The acidity will cut through the rich flavor and the mineral notes will enhance the brininess of the scallops.
Pairing Wine and Scallops: The Takeaway
Each one of these wine selections can be found from a wide variety of countries and wine-growing regions—each with their own distinct flavor and personality. Whether you’re headed to a seafood restaurant or you’re cooking up your own scallop meal, any of these wines will complement and enhance the qualities of the dish.
Looking to add another fine wine to your collection? You can find all the high-quality wines for your pairing needs at JJ Buckley Fine Wines. If you’re not sure which selection to use for your next pairing, reach out to our wine consultants to help you find the perfect match.