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Wine Wisdom: Perfect Seafood Pairings

Elena North-Kelly

February 26, 2016

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Who better to give guidance on what to pour with fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and more than the team from New York City’s iconic Grand Central Oyster Bar? Below, general manager Jeremy Gatto shares his pairing recommendations for all of your seafood needs. 

Oysters
Classically speaking, Muscadet pairs best. Stout beer and sparkling wine (especially Champagne) also work really well. West Coast oysters tend to be creamier, so I like flabbier wine, such as Chardonnay. East Coast oysters tend to be brinier, so wines that are high in acid pair well, like dry Rieslings and Muscadet.

Rich Shellfish (e.g., Lobster, Scallops, or Crab)
I love rich Chardonnays with both lobster and crab. I never recommend butter with lobster—then your lobster just tastes like the butter, and the meat is already sweet. I tend to pair opposites more often than not, so lobster with a dry, buttery Chard is just what the doctor ordered. Scallops are a little more delicate and have a softer flavor, so I’d go with old-world white and lean more toward Italy: an Arneis, if you prefer something dry; or Friulano, if you prefer a sweeter, rounder finish.

Mild, Flaky White Fish (e.g., Cod or Halibut)
Something not overly manipulated: stay away from too much oak or acid. Consider a Chenin Blanc.

Grand Central Oyster Bar

Meaty Fish (e.g., Salmon or Tuna)
You want something that will stand up to the fat, so choose a wine that's high in acid. In the summertime I love rosé with salmon, especially if it’s sparkling. Overall, a dry Riesling or good Pinot Grigio or Pinot Blanc should do the trick.

Seafood Stew
I actually would do Pinot Noir here; I never like cold wine with warm broth. Just make sure it’s un-oaked!

Caviar
One answer: Champagne. Period. If you insist on still wine, go with Chablis. Nothing with oak, ever! You could also substitute with a Franciacorta. 

Fried Seafood 
Pick your favorite white that’s high in acid. I’d go with a dry Riesling.

Smoked Fish 
I like beer with smoked fish; it works really well with the smoky flavor. I prefer lagers because they are easy drinking. If you are thinking vino, go with oak: any oaky Chard will work. If you can get your hands on Conundrum by Camus, buy it! I wouldn’t steer you wrong.   

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