The Absolute Best Wines To Pair With Scallops

Sweet and tender, with a delicate yet meaty texture, scallops are a delicious shellfish treat that can be enjoyed in many different ways, from seared to ceviche. A staple in fine dining around the world, perfectly prepared scallops are sublime, and even more so when paired with the perfect wine.

You can probably already guess that scallops, like most seafood, go well with white wines and sparkling wines, which is true on a very general and basic level. Since there are so many different and delicious ways to prepare scallop, you need to factor that in your wine selection, along with any other ingredients that will accompany the scallops. The ideal wine to serve with that delicate scallop sashimi from Hokkaido will be quite different from what you should serve with those plated and hearty bacon-wrapped scallop hors d'oeuvres! To find out which wines pair best with which scallop dishes, read on.

Seared Scallops

Searing is one of the most classic ways of preparing scallops, and really brings out their inherent sweetness. Searing scallops creates a lovely caramelization, which can be enhanced with the addition of butter or onions. To complement the buttery and sweet flavors of seared scallop dishes, Drink and Pair recommends looking for a full bodied and buttery Chardonnay. However, it's best to avoid Chardonnays that are too buttery, as their intense flavor profiles are likely to overwhelm the delicate scallops. Instead, look for a balanced Chardonnay, ideally one with notes of minerality to help bring out the brininess of the scallops.

According to Matching Food and Wine, seared scallops pair well with nearly all kinds of White Burgundy (though an older vintage will particularly shine here) and an old vine Chenin Blanc, while a just off-dry Chenin Blanc, with its oxidation, sweetness, and acidity, also makes for an excellent pairing with seared scallops (via Wine Enthusiast). Champagne, particularly a Blanc de Blanc, made entirely of Chardonnay grapes, also pairs beautifully with seared and grilled scallops and their sweet and smoky flavor.

Baked Scallops

Scallops can also be baked or roasted. Such preparations often include the use of butter or cheese, which leads to a rich, creamy, and decadent dish. For the best wine pairing, Food For Net recommends Champagne, whose bubbly character and acidity can help cut through the rich flavors and textures of the dish, while complementing the overall flavors. In particular, they recommend Champagne that is predominantly or entirely made from Chardonnay grapes.

Jean-Baptiste Lemoine, the head sommelier at London's The Goring, agrees and recommends Chardonnay-dominant Champagne that "marries freshness, creaminess, and acidity" as the ideal wine pairing for a rich and buttery baked scallop dish to "cut the oiliness from the butter" (via Decanter). Other wine pairing options to look into include the dry and full-bodied Marsanne and Roussanne blends from the Rhone Valley and a fresh and light red wine with a bit of kick, like a Trousseau.

Sautéed Scallops With Sauce

If you're cooking with "wet" scallops, it can be very difficult to get a proper sear, since they've been treated with preservatives that cause them to retain extra water that get released as soon as they hit a hot pan. If you're not planning to take the simple step of brining your wet scallops first, then creating a sauce to make use of all that extra scallop juice is a good idea, with options that include white wine, lemon, herbs, garlic, and pesto, among others.

For sautéed scallops with a sauce, Drink and Pair recommends pairing with a dry and crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Look for one with vibrant flavors of citrus, like lemon or grapefruit, which can help accentuate the flavors of the scallops and not let it get overwhelmed by the sauce. Vino Del Vida recommends a dry Champagne made from Chardonnay grapes for scallops served with a sauce. If you're serving your scallops with a creamy sauce, look for a light Chardonnay, or a crisp Pinot Grigio for contrast, advises JJ Buckley Fine Wines.

Bacon Wrapped Scallops

A classic surf and turf combo with a beautiful balance of textures and sweet and savory flavors, bacon wrapped scallops make for a fantastic appetizer, hors d'oeuvres, and entrée option for all sorts of occasions. Drink and Pair recommends Rosé as the ideal wine pairing for this dish. In particular, look for Rosés with hints of "fresh raspberry, strawberry, and watermelon" along with citrus notes of lime or cranberry. The citrus notes beautifully brings out both the bacon's smokiness and the scallop's caramelized sweetness, while the berry flavors provide a nice contrast to the bacon's savory and salty goodness.

Bacon wrapped scallops also pair nicely with a Sparking Wine, or other whites like Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc. Bacon wrapped scallops also go well with light reds with soft tannins, including red Sancerre, Beaujolais, and Pinot Noir, which Matching Food and Wine recommends enjoying lightly chilled. These pairings also work with heartier scallop dishes that incorporate the likes of pancetta, chorizo, and even black pudding.

Raw Scallops

Scallops can also be enjoyed raw, either as is, or marinated in a ceviche. For raw scallops, the best wine pairing is a Spanish Albariño, according to Drink and Pair. The Spanish white, which combines the citrus and grapefruit notes reminiscent of a Sauvignon Blanc, and the peach and apricot notes of a Riesling, with hints of salinity and minerality, provides an ideal balance to the mild and sweet flavors of raw scallops. Andy Myers especially likes how raw scallops pair with a briny Albariño: as he explained to Wine Enthusiast, "The hints of ocean spray capture the scallop's natural flavor, and the high acid cuts through its rich texture."

Food For Net recommends a dry white wine like Pinot Gris or a dry Riesling. Bright and vibrant, but with limited complexity, neither option will overwhelm the subtle flavors of raw scallops. Jean-Baptiste Lemoine agrees, noting that dry Riseling, Albariño, and Pinto Gris bring "enough fruit, acidity, and minerality" to work well with ceviche (via Decanter). Meanwhile, an aged Vermentino, with its bright profile and texture makes for an adventurous pairing for raw scallops.