Tilapia is a lean white fish that pairs best with clean and crisp white wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Chablis, Pinot Grigio and Sparkling Wine.
Most of the Tilapia you see is raised on farms and comes frozen from Taiwan. Unfortunately, the freezing process steals away a considerable amount of Tilapia’s delicate taste. Fresh Tilapia spotted in the market will typically come from California and will be farmed. For wild Tilapia, Florida is often a good source, however, I often find wild Tilapia from Florida to taste muddy.
Fresh Tilapia tastes a bit sweet and is often baked, broiled, grilled, pan-fried or steamed. When cooked with the skin on Tilapia will be much moister and flavourful, however, frozen Tilapia filets are preferred due to the convenience. When cooked, you often get a nice little crust on this white fish, and from there, you can season with salt and pepper or whatever seasoning tickles your fancy, such as some fresh dill, dried oregano or basil. You’ll want to avoid strong sauces with Tilapia as they will completely overwhelm Tilapia’s delicate flavour.
Many people also love to use Tilapia in fish tacos as the meat is neutral in flavour, easy to cook, and convenient to buy frozen.
Best Wine with Tilapia
|White Wine||Sauvignon Blanc||Tilapia|
|White Wine||Grüner Veltliner||Tilapia|
|White Wine||Pinot Grigio||Tilapia|
|Sparkling Wine||Champagne, Blanc de blancs||Tilapia|
|White Wine||Vinho Verde||Tilapia|
|White Wine||Blaye - Côtes de Bordeaux||Tilapia|
|White Wine||Sainte Macaire - Côtes de Bordeaux||Tilapia|
|White Wine||Aloxe Corton, White||Tilapia|
|White Wine||Auxey-Duresses, White||Tilapia|
|White Wine||Beaune, White||Tilapia|
|White Wine||Mercurey, White||Tilapia|
|White Wine||Pouilly Fuissé||Tilapia|
|White Wine||Côtes du Rhône, Dry White||Tilapia|
|White Wine||Crozes Hermitage, White||Tilapia|
|Rosé||Bandol Rosé AOC||Tilapia|
|White Wine||Jurançon, Dry AOC||Tilapia|
|White Wine||Montravel - South West France||Tilapia|
|White Wine||Côtes de Toul||Tilapia|
Sauvignon Blanc & Tilapia Pairing
Our favourite wine pairing with Tilapia is crisp Sauvignon Blanc. High in acidity, Sauvignon Blanc’s citrus flavours help lift the delicate flavours of Tilapia, making the fish taste more flavourful and delicious. Aside from notes of grapefruit, lemon, lime and gooseberry, you’ll also find hints of grass or green herbs with Sauvignon Blanc. These herbal notes are especially delicious with fish tacos that feature plenty of cilantro.
Sauvignon Blanc is excellent wine pairing with Tilapia on its own as the herbal notes add an extra bit of flavour to the mild-tasting Tilapia flesh. Meanwhile, the citrus flavours add a bit of sparkle and joy to the meal. Tilapia can often come off as boring if you are eating it day in and day out as it has very little flavour. By pairing a filet of Tilapia up with a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc, it will soon become a meal you will look forward to.
(*When I was into weightlifting, I ate a lot of Tilapia as it’s low in fat and high in protein – so forgive me if I often refer to it as boring. Tilapia can certainly taste delicious with the right sauce or wine. Unfortunately when you are trying to eat clean, you are also restricting alcohol or flavourful sauces)
Chablis & Tilapia Pairing
Chablis is an unoaked Chardonnay from France that adored for its crisp flavours of lemon, green apple and citrus. Chablis is also loved for its notes of chalk, mineral, flint and stone. Earthy white wine might seem unappealing, but Chablis is balanced perfectly that the crisp citrus flavours highlight the tender Tilapia flavours, while the chalk and mineral notes remind you that your Tilapia came from a river bed or lake. Chablis is grown in soil rich with limestone, which gives it its chalky flavours, while the lemon and apple notes come directly from the Chardonnay grape.
Tilapia, being so plain and flavourless, is often seen as boring, while Chablis, with its minerality and crisp fruitiness is far from ordinary. When you merge the Chablis and Tilapia together, the Chablis teases your senses, and wakens up your mind, making a boring meal suddenly seem exciting and perhaps meditative.
Grüner Veltliner & Tilapia Fish Pairing
Bright and refreshing, Grüner Veltliner will impress you with its greenish tinge and notes of green apple, apricot, peaches, lemon, and lime. You also find an incredible white pepper aroma, which won’t make you sneeze. You’ll also find green notes of lentil, cucumber and celery, which makes Grüner Veltliner wonderful with any steamed veggies accompanying your Tilapia such as broccoli, asparagus, artichokes, arugula, green beans or peas.
High in acidity, Grüner Veltliner will turn the boring and mild flavours of Tilapia into something more flavourful as the wine mingles with the fish and imparts its flavours of citrus, green apple, honey and herbs into the mix.
Grüner Veltliner is found all over the globe, however, the most famous versions come from Austria. Light and zesty Grüner Veltliner from Austria will be labelled ‘Classic’, whereas richer Grüner Veltliner will be labelled ‘Reserve’ and feature more complex notes of smoke, honey and white pepper.
Recommended producers of Grüner Veltliner include Weingut Bründlmayer, Emmerich Knoll, Hisch Vineyards, Herzberger, Hogl, Nigl, Pichler and Prager.
Italian Pinot Grigio & Tilapia Pairing
An Italian Pinot Grigio matches Tilapia’s weight in that it is subtle white wine. Mild flavours of citrus, pear, apple, mineral, smoke and flowers tease your palate and nose with each sip of this popular white wine. Always crisp and dry, Italian Pinot Grigio is always a crowd-pleaser as it is consistently well produced and will never surprise you with unusual flavours.
When I make Fish Tacos at home using Tilapia, and I have company, Pinot Grigio is my favourite wine pairing with, as it is a crowd-pleaser. I love how the minerality of Pinot Grigio blends in perfectly with the shredded lettuce and avocado I toss into my homemade tacos. Meanwhile, the refreshing flavours of peach, citrus, pear and apple are wonderful against the saltiness and starchy flavours of the soft taco.
I also find that with Pinot Grigio, while it’s not a bold wine, it knows its limits and always stands back a bit. This allows the wine to showcase the beautiful but subtle flavours of the Tilapia, making the fish taste much more delicious then it would on its own.
Cava & Tilapia Pairing
Cava is an inexpensive sparkling white wine from Spain that is a touch earthy but has creamy flavours of lemon, toast, pears and melon. If you’re new to wine, you might call all sparkling wine ‘Champagne,’ and you’d be wrong to do such. Champagne refers to white wine from a specific region of France. Have no worry though, 99% of the population calls any sparkling wine Champagne, so you are in good company.
Why we like Cava is that it is fun like Champagne, but without the bank account denting price tag. Cava can range from being bone-dry to very sweet, and for Tilapia, I recommend a bone-dry Cava. These bottles will be labelled as Brut. Any bottles with Secco on the label, and you’re into the sweet territory, which is more appropriate for spicy foods sweet desserts.
Aside from being refreshing and fun, Cava’s acidity helps lift up the delicate Tilapia flavours, making the fish taste much less boring.