Wines For Bouillabaisse

by Alexis Beltrami

Bouillabaisse's hearty flavors suit a wide range of wines. As long as you choose something with good acidity and a fairly assertive personality, you should have a nice match. Sauvignon Blanc-based whites, including white Bordeaux, would probably be my pick, because the Sauvignon flavors complement the tomatoes, onions, and fennel in our bouillabaisse recipes. I haven't found any authorities willing to go out on a limb and recommend a red wine with bouillabaisse, but I believe light, high-acid reds like Loire Cabernet Francs or light Pinot Noirs would be worth experimenting with. Karen King, Wine Director at Union Square Cafe in New York, urges us to remember the principle that the wines and foods of a region are often natural pairings: "Bouillabaisse comes from Provence traditionally, so Provencale rosé would be a tasty choice. White Bandol (comprised of Bourboulenc, Clairette, Ugni Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc) is another option, as are other white wines from Provence." In keeping with the open-ended possibilities of this dish, King suggests that "a full-bodied white Burgundy or even a California Chardonnay would go well, too."