This good bistro recipe enchants us. It has true personality and great character. The herring has a fatty texture, and is rich in proteins and lipids. It has lots of polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially Omega 3 that are beneficial for health. Fine smoking of the herring contributes intense taste, and the marinade and the onions provide complexity. If we take a look at the dish in its entirety, you need to choose a wine that is capable of contrasting with the structure of the herring and of persistently accompanying the marinade (coriander seed, bay, clove).

Liveliness and fleshiness with Herring

It is clear to all that the wine that goes with herring has to be incisive and tense. Energy and acidity are important to provide that pep that stands up to the fatty herring. However, the wine must not be slender, it needs to have some body, some roundness. To start things out, I would like to propose a lovely Chablis, the 2011 Premier cru Montée de Tonnerre under Samuel Billaud’s signature. Now over nine years old, this white remains beautifully typical, finely reduced, calcareous and saline, with splendid balance on the palate. The grapes come from two different parcels, one located on the actual Montée de Tonnerre, the other at the top of Les Chapelots. Here, the pairing is quite simply sumptuous. The herring accepts the challenge yet retains its integrity and taste.

A Muscadet can be an excellent alternative…

In which case, choose a wine which has increased volume on the palate due to the contact with lees, and steer away from a Muscadet from the year underway, which would be too incisive. I would advise a Muscadet with the “Communal” label, which has undergone three years ageing on the lees, such as the 2016 Goulaine Excelsior 2016 from the Domaine Luneau Papin.
… Saké is also outstanding with herring.
Another pairing which is truly interesting with herring is sake from the Shizuoka prefecture. This Junmai Daiginjo saké made from equal parts of Yamadanishiki rice and Gohakyumangokyu rice, 50% polished, is extremely elegant with diffuse power that suits herring marinated in oil. Made by the Omuraya Shuzo firm, Wakatake Onna Nakase cuvée is one of my favourites in this sector. Careful! It must be served cold but not ice-cold.

A Burgundy white, a white from Nantes, or saké, the choice is up to you!

La Revue du Vin de France January 2021.

Read more : what else to serve with sake?