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Our Favorite Wines To Pair With Scallops

There’s something special about a perfectly cooked scallop. It’s the embodiment of all that’s good in the world – it’s buttery, creamy, and salty. Scallops also just so happen to be best served alongside my favorite food groups: pasta, cream, cheese, and wine.

Wine and scallops go together like peanut butter and jelly. The buttery texture and brininess pairs beautifully with fruity, acid-centric wines.

pairing white wine with scallops

I did the hard work of drinking wine and eating scallops so I could give you guys a comprehensive deep dive into the perfect pairing. Now, I’m here to tell you that it’s really quite simple.

A Quick Tip On Wine Pairings With Scallops

White wine is the “rule” when it comes to seafood – but I’m a bit of a rulebreaker. While I do agree that high acid whites are an excellent choice for cream sauces, there’s definitely room for red at the table. 

When considering which wines to pair with your scallop dish, use the following as a helpful guideline:

High acid- If the dish is high in acid, it should be paired with a wine greater in acid. Good examples of high acid wines are Albariño, Vinho Verde, or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

High fat- A heavy cream sauce should be paired with either a high acid wine (to cut through the sauce) or a similarly buttery/oily textured wine, such as an oaked Chardonnay.

Accentuating herbs and veggies- Savory herbs or added flavor from vegetables can make more varieties of wine fit the dish. For example, mushrooms or meat served with scallops would lend well to a light or medium-bodied red wine such as a Pinot Noir.

Best White Wine For Scallops With A Bonus Rosé

White wine is a safe bet when it comes to lean seafood. The high acid cuts through creamy sauces without overpowering the delicate flavor of scallops. If high acid isn’t your thing, try pairing a creamy sauce with a like-minded wine with an oily mouthfeel.

pairing white wine with scallops

Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand), Wine: Lake Chalice, The Nest Sauvignon Blanc 2021

A zesty, herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc is a scallop’s best friend. Vibrant citrus is met with green vegetal notes. This wine comes from the Marlborough region of New Zealand, the region known for exceptional Sav. Blanc. 

Best Scallop Dish Pairing: Lemon Garlic Scallop Pasta

Pinot Grigio (Italy), Wine: Maso Canali, Trentino Pinot Grigio 2020

Pinot grigio is another go-to choice for creamy seafood dishes. Green apple and lemon pierce through high-fat sauces while not overpowering the dish.

Fun fact: While Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are the same grape, the regions where they are made have a lot to do with each wine’s unique flavor profile. Pinot Grigio is typically dry with green apple and citrus notes, while Pinot Gris ranges from dry to medium sweet and has more tropical and honey flavors.

Best Scallop Dish Pairing: Scallop Ceviche

Chardonnay (California), Wine: Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Karia Chardonnay 2019

This is an example of a pairing based on similarities. Creamy, buttery dishes can be paired nicely with full-bodied white wines, like an oaked Chardonnay. California is known for loving its oak, and this one is a perfect example. 

Best Scallop Dish Pairing: Brown Butter Seared Scallops

Sparkling Wine (California), Wine: Domaine Carneros, Brut 2017

You can never go wrong with sparkling – I’m pretty sure that’s written somewhere on the bottle… Anyway, sparkling wine is sure to cut through even the heartiest of dishes. The accentuating flavors of toast, pear, and honey make this as good a choice before, during, and after your scallop course. 

Best Scallop Dish Pairing: Coquilles St. Jacques, scallops cooked in a creamy wine sauce with breadcrumbs and cheese

Rosé (France), Wine: Minuty, Prestige Rosé 2020

Rosé is a happy medium, making it a good choice for pairing with a salty scallop dish. The bright acid and subtle red fruit notes make it a good palate cleanser, not to mention a people pleaser. I mean, who doesn’t love rosé?

I chose a rosé from the Provence region in France because of its fruity and mineral flavor.

Best Scallop Pairing: Fried Scallops

Best Red Wines With Scallops

Despite common knowledge, red wine can be paired with seafood. I recommend pairing lighter-bodied, fruit-forward red wines with seafood when there are secondary characteristics in the dish that you want to emphasize. Mushrooms, meat, or flavorful sauces can be elevated when paired with reds.

pairing red wine with scallops

Sangiovese (Italy), Wine: Bindi Sergardi, Calidonia Chianti Classico Riserva 2016

Sangiovese is a high acid, high tannin Italian grape variety that works well with tomato-based, herbaceous dishes. Because of the strong fruit, herb, and earth profile of this wine, it would pair nicely with a dish packed with flavor.

Best Scallop Dish Pairing: Seared Scallops in Creamy Tomato Marinara Sauce

Pinot Noir (New Zealand), Wine: Mt. Difficulty, Roaring Meg Pinot Noir 2018

Pinot Noir is one of my first picks when it comes to red wine and seafood pairing. It’s high acid with low tannins, meaning it breaks through creamy sauces while offering a pleasant red fruit flavor that I sometimes prefer to a white wine. 

I chose a Pinot Noir from Central Otago, New Zealand as they are known for making fuller-bodied Pinots. If you wanted a lighter-bodied Pinot, I would recommend one from Chile or Australia.

Best Scallop Dish Pairing: Surf and Turf

I sincerely hope you’re craving scallops as much as I am right now – and that you feel more confident to select your next wine to pair alongside your scallop dinner.

One last tip, if you’re using wine as an ingredient in your scallop dish, then it’s probably a safe bet to serve that bottle alongside your finished dish. Beyond that, high acid and fruit-forward wines are always a safe choice. 

Regardless of which wine you select for your next scallop dish, just remember that the most important rule is that you enjoy it!

Scallop Wine Pairing FAQ's

White wine is the “rule” when it comes to seafood but rules are made to be broken! While high acid whites are  an excellent choice for cream sauces, there’s definitely room for red at the table when you’re serving scallops. Consider a lighter-bodied, fruit-forward red wine with scallops when there are secondary characteristics in the dish that you want to emphasize.

Pinot Noir is a great pick when it comes to red wine and seafood pairing. It’s high acid with low tannins, meaning it breaks through creamy sauces while offering a pleasant red fruit flavor that I sometimes prefer to a white wine.

Of course! Rosé is always a people pleaser. When choosing a Rosé to pair with scallops look for a bright fruit forward option. Minuty, Prestige Rosé 2020 is a great choice.

Scallops are so versatile it’s hard to narrow down what you should serve as a side dish. A few traditional sides include rice or polenta, roasted brussel sprouts, lemon caper pasta, Tuscan beans, summer squash salad, or sauteed greens like swiss chard. 

When it comes to wine the simple answer would be a white wine like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, but a lighter-bodied, fruit-forward red wine like a good Pinot Noir or Sangiovese can be a fun surprise!

  • Scallop ceviche or raw: Riesling, Albarino, Chablis, Rosé.
  • Seared scallops: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay (with some oak), Alsace Pinot Gris.
  • Baked scallops: Sparkling wine from California, Champagne (Chardonnay-dominant).
  • Favorite reds to pair with scallops: Pinot Noir, Trousseau, Sangiovese.
Grilling scallops will enhance their natural sweetness. If you’re grilling, match with a light Chardonnay. Or, compliment the sweetness of the scallops with another sweet wine, like white Burgundy, Prosecco or Champagne.

If you’re looking for a side dish, you can choose any of the following.

  • Pasta. Seared scallops in a creamy tomato marinara is the best. Serve with a Sangiovese. 
  • Rice. It’s simple and goes with just about everything.
  • Roasted Potatoes.
  • A light salad with a vinaigrette or sautéed greens.
 
Goodness yes! Bacon wrapped scallops definitely pair with light reds like, red Sancerre, Beaujolais, and Pinot Noir. We recommend serving slightly chilled. 
For brown butter seared shrimp and scallops, you better believe we’re reaching for a Chardonnay. However,  And if you’re making a more robust sauce like a creamy tomato marinara, fruity and full-bodied Rosé or Sangiovese all the way. 
Author: Olivia Abramson

Author: Olivia Abramson

Olivia has been immersed in all things food and libations for nearly a decade. When she’s not cooking or sipping on a glass of vino, she’s running a small tasting room for a boutique winery located on the beautiful Hood Canal in Washington State. She spends her free time bikepacking around the Pacific Northwest with her fiance and checking out all the local breweries. She also enjoys writing for her own personal food and wine blog, Liv Eats Local. Follow her IG: @olivia_abramson for pictures of her cute dog, Tater, and their van-lifing adventures - and check out her blog liveatslocal.com for recipes and stories of tipsy travels.

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Spice up your next party with our FREE wine tasting guide! Learn what to look, smell, and taste for while appreciating your favorite bottle. We’ve also included a printable tasting notes template and a tasting wheel.

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