If you are lucky enough to be enjoying lobster over the festive period, or at any point during the year, you might be wondering what is the best wine to pair with your crustacean cuisine.
Lobster has a delicate flavor and should be matched with a wine which compliments and accentuates its sweet, succulent nature. Most red wines do not go well with lobster because the tannins in red wine do not react well with the iodine found in lobster. White wines, especially those with more mineral and vegetable notes, usually work better than fruit-oriented wines. Of course the specific lobster entrée you plan to enjoy will also influence the choice of wine.
Champagne is almost always a good choice for lobster dishes and fitting for a special celebration. The experts recommend Blanc de Blanc champagnes which are made from 100% Chardonnay grapes. The other basic advice on pairing champagne with lobster is to steer clear of extra dry (Extra Brut) champagnes.
Beyond the above, choose a wine that suits your tastes and budget and, if possible, work with your wine store specialist or restaurant waiter who will know significantly more than I do! Speaking of which, Eric Mihan, owner of The Bangor Wine and Cheese Company has been kind enough to provide some advice and recommendations to compliment my below suggestions on which wines to pair with specific lobster dishes. So without further ado…
Wine pairings for boiled, steamed or poached lobster.
Go for a medium-bodied California Chardonnay with more mineral than oak. Look for a wine with a hint of lemon or lime, apple or pear and a taste of honey, caramel or vanilla. A Russian River Chardonnay could work well. For example, The 2011 White House State Dinner in honor of President Hu Jintao featured poached Maine Lobster, which was paired with a 2008 Russian River Chardonnay. Francis Coppola and Huntington Hill are other brands worth exploring. If you want to go sparkling, why not try a rose champagne, such as a Mumm Rose.
A richer lobster dish calls for a richer Chardonnay. Go for a White Burgundy, such as a Meurault, Montrachet or Pouilly-Fuisse. I am also a big fan of Viognier. Look for a wine with spice and herb notes (anise, clove, sage, nutmeg), hints of grapefruit, lime, apricot or fig and honey along with cream, butter, caramel or vanilla notes.
I currently live in London and have access to a wonderful variety of French wines in my local supermarket and corner store. I have my favorites but fear many of these wines might prove tricky to find in America. One French brand which I like and I know is popular in the U.S. is Louis Jardot. Their Macon-Villages Chardonnay or Pouilly-Fuisse would be a safe bet for a richly-flavored lobster dish if you are not able to get a personal recommendation from your local wine store.
Eric Mihan of The Bangor Wine and Cheese Company likes to pair rich, buttery lobster dishes with a wine that has a “white pear, peach, and even [a] pineapple-y nose…with nice acidity and minerality to cut the butter.” He recommends Christophe Cordier’s Bourgogne Blanc or Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier as a good, affordable alternative.
Wine pairings for grilled lobster.
When serving grilled lobster, you can go for a more oaky Chardonnay. California produce some great, inexpensive varieties. I have always enjoyed Toasted Head Chardonnay.
Eric likes a wine with “a little more spice or smoke on the nose.” He recommends Claiborne & Churchill Gewurztraminer for its great spice and Domaine de Bel-Air Pouilly-Fume for its smokiness and as “a gorgeous expression of Sauv Blanc from the Loire that has enough weight and texture to match grilled lobster perfectly.”
Wine pairings for a lobster roll or lobster salad.
Go for a Sancerre or Sauvignon Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc from Duckhorn Vineyards and Windsor Vineyards has been paired with lobster for recent White House inauguration lunches. A nice rosé would also work well. Lobster and rosé both capture the essence of summer and combining the two can mentally transport me from rainy London to the sunny South of France or the rocky shores of Maine. While currently not accessible in The States, I am in love with a Provençal rosé from Domaine Sainte Lucie (MIP Premium Rose) which goes wonderfully with Lobster Bouillabaisse.
Wine pairings for lobster in a tomato sauce.
Finally, while white almost always works better than red with lobster, if you’re serving lobster with a tomato sauce (e.g., Lobster Fra Diavolo) a Chianti Classico would work well. For a spicy, red sauce dish Eric recommends a wine with “acidity to match the acidity of the tomato, and…that will cut that heat and refresh your palate.” In Eric’s eloquent words, “Sangiovese (the main grape of Tuscany, and hence, Chianti) is a great one as long as it is lithe and focused, and not covered or ruined by heavy oak or over-extraction. Ciacci Piccolomini makes a little Tuscan red that sells in the mid-teens that is mostly Sangiovese, with a touch of Cab and Merlot, that just rocks that sort of dish.”
Cheers! If you have any recommendations for me, please email me or comment below. I would love to hear of them and add them to this blog.