The Grape Chic Guide to Wine & Oysters
Updated: Oct 11, 2018
I just spent a weekend in Boston’s Seaport, so I’m basically a specialist.
I’m not trying to freak anyone out, but summer is coming and coming quickly. If you’re like me then you haven’t quite started on your summer bod yet (eek), but regardless you’re probably still excited for longer days, warmer temps, and of course a crisp rosé…or three. This past weekend I spent a few days in Boston exploring the Seaport, North End and Back Bay. Even though it had snowed Saturday night, there was one theme I saw over and over again…oysters…and lots of them! I’ve always been a fan of the velvety, salty shellfish (especially when they’re being shucked in front of my face), so I made it a point to pair up several different kinds of Massachusetts oysters with different wines. Below is a guide to help you order the perfect glass for the next time you ‘slurp’ up these delicious delicacies.
Chablis is in the northern most part of Burgundy, France where the soil is clay-like and dense with minerals. You can even find marine fossils within the soil containing bits of…you guessed it…oyster/shellfish shells. Although it wouldn’t be listed on the wine label, a Chablis is 100% Chardonnay. If you’re American you may associate Chardonnay with being full-bodied, buttery and heavily oaked. That’s because many winemakers here (California mainly), choose to express the varietal in that way. On the contrary, Chablis is only lightly oaked if at all creating a nose full of citrus zest and a fresh mineral finish on the palate. Because of Chablis’ northern location, you’re also going to find a refreshing acidity just perfect for the lemon squeeze you top off your oysters with!
Who doesn’t love a good ole glass of champs anyway?! Champagne can only be called so if the sparkling wine is made in the traditional method in the region of Champagne, France. Champagne usually contains Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, but can also be 100% Chardonnay in which it is then called, Blanc de Blancs. Highly acidic, it is also a great match for your oysters with lemon/cocktail sauce. Above all, perhaps the most enjoyable link between the two is the textural contrast on the palate. Washing down a silky oyster with some crisp bubbles will create the ultimate palate euphoria!
Try: Champagne Jacquart Blanc de Blancs 2006 $55.99
3. Sauvignon Blanc
This aromatic grape can be found all over the world, however my favorite Sauv Blancs to pair with oysters come from Marlborough, New Zealand. Lime, lemon zest, and gooseberry are some aromas you may just find on the nose, however even though the nose is pronounced, the wine itself won't overpower the delicate shellfish. Sauvignon Blancs are rarely oaked so the palate will boast of refreshing acidity, minerality, and a light body making for the perfect summer wine for any seafood. If you haven’t noticed the theme yet…keep it refreshing, keep it simple!
Try: Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2017 $33.99
4. Dry Rosé
I repeat…DRY rosé. A rosé too high in sugar will make the oysters taste bitter and displeasing. Try Provencal rosés from Southern France. These wines are usually pale in color and will give off aromas of strawberry, watermelon and raspberry without completely overpowering the oysters. As a NYC staple, these wines are easy to find and are known as the crowd favorite in the summertime because…”Rosé All Day” am I right?! Like the previous wines, the high acidity and mineral finish make a dry rosé another great bet for your oyster pairing extravaganza.
Try: Sainte Victoire Provence Rose 2015 $23.99
You may know that I strongly believe in pairing wines you LOVE over pairing according to the “rules”. There are few instances, however, where I do believe there may be some method to the madness…oysters and delicate shellfish fall into that category undoubtedly! So let’s gear up for summer and impress our friends with this simple pairing knowledge!