Wine for fish’n’chips

(by peter & susie)

Which would be the one dish you would recommend visiting aliens, Olympians and tourists try as a quintessentially British culinary experience?

Our bet is that fish and chips would be right up there.

It’s not haute cuisine, but we Brits seem to have a soft spot for this battery, deep-fried seaside staple. And all of us have a strong opinion on what to accompany it…

But here we’re not talking about pickled eggs or mushy peas. The kind of accompaniment we’re on about is wine – although perhaps in more varied styles that you might think.

By way of background, fish and chips was one of the key dishes we recently judged in our What Food What Wine competition. Together with a panel of seasoned experts, we judged a whole load of wines as to how well they went with the dish – and we include some of the highlights below.

This particular dish was an absolute pleasure to judge, and the results showed this. We awarded no fewer than four trophies – one classic match under £10 (the Morrisons Best New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2011), one over £10 (Nobilo Icon Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011), one ‘fizz and chips’ (Philippe Michel Cremant du Jura 2009) and one in recognition of a very different style – dry sherry – with the Hidalgo La Gitana Manzanilla.

Funnily enough, with the dish itself (without the side-orders) it’s the earthiness of the potatoes that dominates flavour-wise, and the best matches not only provide a lemony refreshment but also have a creaminess and an earthy richness to them as well.

Our personal highlights, together with the top-scoring wines, are as below. You can also find a full list of results for fish and chips, together with where to buy the wines, on the What Food What Wine website. Many are available to buy in just a few clicks via

If food and wine floats your boat, come and join us at what has to be the most delicious day out in London this year, at What Food What Wine Live on Saturday 24th November 2012 at Lord’s cricket pavilion. It costs a bargain £35 per head and you can try winning wines alongside the fabulous dishes from the competition, including fish and chips.

To buy tickets and find out more, please follow this link to the website.

Top wines with fish and chips


Philippe Michel Cremant du Jura 2009 (£6.99, Aldi) – Fizz & Chips Trophy, 5 stars – the gently creamy, refreshing fizz works really well with the earthy richness of the dish, which brings out the lively fruitiness of the wine. A great value match with more than a hint of indulgence. Enjoy it on a British beach as the sun goes down with the bottle well chilled and fish and chips straight from the paper.

Cono Sur Brut NV (£7.50-12, widely available inc,, – 4 stars – another very creditable fizz option, this time from Chile – fresh, herby flavours match really well with the dish. Fresh and uplifting.

Dry Sherry

La Gitana Manzanilla NV, Bodegas Hidalgo (£9.30, widely available inc Waitrose) – Outstanding Match with Fish and Chips trophy, 5 stars – OK so we wine lovers always bleat on about dry sherry being great, but here’s a fantastic way to prove the point. Go and buy a bottle of this amazing value wine, chill it thoroughly, then use it (in moderation) to wash down fish and chips. It’s a thing of beauty. A perfect, yeasty, refreshing, moreish match. Yum!


Morrisons Best New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (£7.99, Morrisons) – Best with Fish and Chips under £10 trophy, 5 stars – smoky, lemony wine makes for a classic pairing. Juicy and very satisfying indeed.

Nobilo Icon Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (£14) – Best with Fish and Chips over £10 trophy, 5 stars – beautiful juicy acidity cuts through the fish, while the asparagus/pea shoot flavours work brilliantly too. Hint of creaminess works well too. Classy.

Barefoot Pinot Grigio NV, Gallo (£4.99, widely available inc Asda,, – 5 stars – Most wine pros would rush for the spittoon at the mere sight of Californian NV Pinot Grigio, but this is a cracking value wine that really brings out the creamy texture and flavour of the batter and fish. The touch of residual richness helps too.

Klein Constantia Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (£13.99, independents) – 5 stars – this wine has a touch of Semillon, which adds a limey/honeycomb/creamy element, which works brilliantly well with the fish and chips. Really exciting.


Turkey Flat Vineyards Rosé 2012 (£11.99, Selfridges, – 4 stars – good to see a rosé get in the action. This blend of Grenache, Shiraz, Cabernet and Dolcetto is bright, gutsy and rich, a nice counterpoint to the dish.


Vistamar Sepia Reserva Pinot Noir 2010 (£7.99) – 3 stars – a decent option for red wine lovers. Has a creamy, cherried character that works well with the saltiness of the potato and batter. Chill before serving.