Wine Pairing for Sea Scallops

By Jonathan Thompson

Scallops are shellfish that are found almost globally and used in both Eastern and Western cuisine. The meat of the scallop is light and moist with a delicate, sweet flavor. If scallops are overcooked the meat becomes tough and chewy, so they must be watched closely throughout the cooking process. Choose recipes that won't mask the flavor of the scallop. Finding a wine to pair with scallops can be difficult and will depend on the preparation.

credit: scallops image by blaine stiger from <a href=''></a>
Scallops have a delicate flavor and texture that could be overpowered by the wine selection.

Pinot Noir

While traditional wine pairing techniques would suggest serving white wines with scallops, Yoon Ha, a Sommelier in Napa Valley, recommends a pinot noir to match the texture of the scallops. Pinot is considered a full-bodied wine but is very smooth in texture and is not acidic or tannic. The flavors of pinot noir are a rich blend of spices and herbs that could overpower scallops that are under-seasoned. In order for the scallops and wine to complement each other, choose a scallop recipe with fresh herbs and spices.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon blanc is a French variety that is now cultivated in wine regions around the world. This white wine has a crisp, tart and acidic flavor with notes of grapefruit and lime that will complement simple preparations of scallops. Sauvignon blanc can be paired with strong flavors like garlic that are commonly used with scallops but clash with many other wines.


Chardonnay is a white wine that is highly influenced by where it is grown and the techniques used during production. Regardless of these factors, chardonnay has a smooth texture, full-body and balanced acidity. Flavors that commonly appear in chardonnay include light, crisp fruits like apple, pear and peach. Chardonnay will complement a simple scallop preparation that highlights the natural flavors of the meat.


Rosé is technically an unfinished red wine that begins the processes used to create a normal red wine but is stopped before all of the characteristics are adopted. This creates a refreshing, crisp wine with a medium-body similar to a red wine but with a pink color. Several types of rosé are available to give you the appropriate dryness or sweetness needs for your pairing. The degree of sweetness needed will depend on the ingredients accompanying your scallops in the recipe and your individual taste. For recipes including spices, a sweet wine will provide a pleasant contrast.