For now we'll set aside cooking methods, garnishes, and sauces to focus on the characteristics of different types of seafood. To this end, we can broadly distinguish between four large groups of fish in terms of their composition: white, semi-fatty, and fatty (oil-rich/oily) fish. We'll also take a separate look at molluscs.
In creating our pairing, we seek wines that do not mask the flavour of the fish, but bring it into balance and enhance it. These pairings require a greater degree of precision given the distinctive characteristics of a food that is very rich in iodine.
What we refer to as white fish (cod, sole, sea bass, grouper, turbot, etc.) contains up to 80% water with only 2.5% fat accumulated in the liver. This type of fish appreciates the company of reds with a fruity, aromatic, elegant profile and subtle tannins. In this case, Familia Torres's Celeste Reserva makes for an excellent match. The same is true of young aromatic wines made from Merlot or Pinot Noir.
Celeste Reserva (DO Ribera del Duero) is an opulent, full-bodied wine, laden with fruit and deep in colour.
Hake, gilt-head bream, monkfish, and trout are examples of semi-fatty fish (between 3% to 5% of accumulated fat). This group calls for relatively young wines with a certain intensity that still maintain some of their fruit expression. However, if the fish is served with rich sauces, we can opt for a more mature and structured wine. Cue Purgatori.
Purgatori (DO Costers del Segre) is mainly made from the varieties Cariñena and Garnacha.
The last group, referred to as oil-rich, fatty, or blue fish contain a higher concentration of fat (between 7% to 15%). In this category, we find tuna, salmon, sardines, anchovies, and bonito (white tuna). These types of fish invite a wider range of pairing possibilities: from young, fruity reds to more structured wines and more complex, heftier varieties like Garnacha, Cabernet Franc, or Monastrell. Perpetual is a perfect example.
Perpetual (DOQ Priorat) is made from the varieties Cariñena and Garnacha Tinta.
When it comes to octopus and molluscs, reds with low tannins and higher acidity are the best bet. Vinyarets Red is worth a try. Crustaceans also do well with young reds that have a good amount of acidity, whereas lobster can handle oak-aged reds, and here Familia Torres has plenty of options to choose from.
Vinyarets Red (DO Penedès) is made from the varieties Garnacha Tinta, Tempranillo, and Sumoll.
So, the best way to counter preconceptions is through knowledge, curiosity, and an unbiased palate that is open to new sensations.