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Best wine with a bouillabaisse fish stew? Ask Decanter

Fiona Beckett shares her pairing advice for this Mediterranean fish stew...

Lisa Ellerton, by email, asks: What’s the best wine match for bouillabaisse?

Fiona Beckett, is a contributing editor to Decanter, also publishing at www.matchingfoodandwine.com, replies: Bouillabaisse is one of those dishes that provokes heated discussions over what is – or is not – an authentic version, so what hope is there of finding a definitive wine match? More of a Mediterranean fish stew than a soup, it includes many different kinds of fish and shellfish and is served with a punchy, garlic-laced rouille.

Given that it originates in Marseilles, as we’re in Provence, we’re talking rosé. Bandol would be my appellation of choice for the best rosé, being stronger-flavoured and more savoury than many Côtes de Provence options.

However, in Domaine Tempier’s cookbook, Lulu’s Provençal Table , Richard Olney recalls serving a chilled young red Tempier with great success. Matthieu Longuère MS suggests a Fleurie with fish and seafood stew, in his guide to pairing fish with red wine, as ‘Gamay possesses a lovely freshness’ and it’s acidity will also marry well with a tomato base. 

You could also drink white from that part of the world, ideally the delicious AP Cassis or a Rolle.

White Rhône varieties such as Marsanne and Roussanne also work well, although maybe not the more headily aromatic Viognier, unless in a blend. I came across an organic Roussanne the other day (Calmel & Joseph’s Le Penchant: the 2019 is £16.95 at South Downs Cellars), which recommended bouillabaisse on the back label!

This was first published in the May 2021 issue of Decanter magazine.

Also see:

A perfect pairing: Mussel soup

Pairing wines with tricky ingredients

Pairing wine with fish: What to choose

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