Pairings: Finding the perfect wine match to paella

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Fish routinely marries well with white wine, but there’s good reason for palate confusion when it comes to paella. That classic part fish, part pork melting pot is a subtle swirl of shrimp, clams, sausage, red peppers and peas.

The interesting twist about this Spanish rice dish, cooked and served in a large shallow pan and flavored with saffron and garlic, is its versatility when it comes to wine. White wines, dry rosés and reds pair well with it. But the trick to finding the perfect match lies in the subtleties.

Here’s a primer of sorts to help you find that spot-on coupling.

Whites: Stay away from toasty wines, because they mask the flavors, and choose rich ones with savory notes. Some examples include unoaked chardonnay, marsanne, roussanne, viognier, chenin blanc, pinot blanc and semillon.

Rosés: Opt for a dry one with bright acid as opposed to a fruit-forward bottling, because crisp wines plays well with the seafood. Rosés produced from Rhone varietals fit this profile, and they include grenache, syrah, mourvedre, carignan and cinsaut.

Reds: Pick a medium-bodied, food-friendly wine rather than one that’s full-throttle, which will overpower the paella. Some tame reds are grenache, carignan and pinot noir.

Finding the right bottle to uncork is effortless when you consider the subtleties of the paella and its correct courtship.

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 707-521-5310 or

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