Calamari pairs best with crisp white wines such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Sparkling Wine. If you are not a white wine drinker, Rosé or Cold Beer will make for beautiful pairings as well.
Calamari may come breaded and fried, which makes it crispy and lovely for dipping. Grilled Calamari is another popular alternative, and here, the Calamari will taste slightly charred and smoky. You’ll also find Calamari tossed in salads and pasta, or as part of a risotto dish.
My Pairings are geared more towards Calamari in North America. If you are out galivanting in Greece, Portugal or Spain where the Calamari is fresh and the wine is locally made, you’ll have a higher opportunity to sample rarer wines such as Rueda, Picpoul, Vinho Verde or an Albariño, all which pair nicely with Calamari, than you would in some pub or restaurant in mid-western America, located far away from the sea and vineyards.
Fortunately, Calamari is very white wine friendly, so as long as it’s crisp and citrusy, it should pair well. Some wine experts have recommended red wines such as Beaujolais or Pinot Noir with Calamari, however, I personally do not. These wines won’t ruin your Calamari at all, but they won’t make the Calamari taste any better either. Would you put jam on your deep fried battered shrimp? Probably not. Thus you wouldn’t enjoy the strawberry and raspberry flavours of a Pinot Noir with your battered Calamari either.
If my Calamari is deep-fried, I always love to squeeze a little bit of lemon on it as the lemon juice cuts through the batter and grease, lifting the delicious seafood flavours out. Riesling is a lot like a squeeze of lemon juice as this white wine is tart, crisp and full of lemon and lime notes, which draw out the yummy squid flavours.
Sparkling Wine and Fried Calamari Pairing
Sparkling Wine is another great choice for Calamari, especially if it is fried. Sparkling Wines are fantastic with deep-fried foods as their bright and citrusy flavours cleanse the mouth of oily foods. The bubbly texture of Sparkling Wine also makes for a wonderful contrast against the crunchy and crispy exterior of your Calamari.
You don’t have to break the bank account picking up a Sparkling Wine either. Prosecco and Cava are relatively inexpensive, well-made Sparkling Wines that will not disappoint.
If you are at the pub or restaurant, you might not be able to get Sparkling Wine by the glass, however, if you are in a celebratory mood, it’s well worth picking up a bottle for your table to get you and your group started for a night of fun.
Albariño with Calamari
Albariño is the perfect white wine with Tapas dishes as the wine is acidic and fresh. Boasting flavours of peach, melon, apple, apricot, citrus, and pear, Albariño is extremely refreshing against the oils and breading of your deep-fried Calamari.
Medium-bodied, Albariño not only gets along with Calamari, but you’ll also find it goes great with vegetables, fish, fried foods, salad, shellfish and chicken.
Calamari Pasta & Chardonnay Pairing
If you like a little butter on your grilled Calamari or are enjoying the Calamari in a creamy pasta, reach for a Chardonnay. With lots of buttery overtones and flavours of vanilla, smoke, toast and coconut, Chardonnay will complement the creamy sauce or grilled flavours of your Calamari. Meanwhile, Chardonnay also exhibits apple, peach, lemon and pineapple flavours, which help highlight your Calamari’s squid flavours.
Sauvignon Blanc and Calamari Salad Pairing
Calamari salad, made with greens and meaty chunks of Calamari, pairs great with a Sauvignon Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine that is crisp with notes of grapefruit, lemon and lime, along with green notes of grass and herbs. The greener flavours of Sauvignon Blanc complement the vegetables in the salad, while the acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc brings out the squid flavours.
Does Pinot Grigio Pair Well with Calamari?
Pinot Grigio is enjoyable with with Calamari. Pinot Grigio does not pair up as well with Calamari like a Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc, as the wine is not overly flavourful or bossy enough to rip through the deep-fried batter of Calamari. However, Pinot Grigio is pleasant and plain enough to get along with Calamari without getting in the way.
Pinot Grigio is the most popular white wine sold in North America and you are likely to find it by the glass if you visit a pub, whereas, with all the other wines I listed here, you may not. Furthermore, if you’re out at a restaurant and eating Calamari with a bunch of other appetizers like Nachos, Chicken Wings, or Tapas based dishes, Pinot Grigio will pair well enough with those foods as well.