Oyster Wines

Aug 21, 2007

Recently, a number of people have been asking me about pairing wine with oysters. It’s a much more difficult combo than many people think: most oysters slay most white wines, due to their high umami content. But when it works, it’s truly a match made in heaven. Here are my seven rules for making it work:

1. Pacific and Kumamoto oysters work better than Eastern oysters with almost all wines.

2. Easterns work better than Olympias or Flats.

3. With all oysters, lighter, less briny ones work best.

4. With Easterns, try Grüner Veltliner or Champagne first, then Chablis, Vinho Verde, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Blanc, or even Pinot Grigio.

5. With Pacifics and Kumamotos, try Sauvignon Blanc first, then Champagne, Chablis, or Muscadet, then any of the other wines listed for Eastern oysters.

6. Sprinkle some mignonette on your oysters, and suddenly most white wines work, particularly Sauvignon Blanc.

7. Whatever wine you choose, keep it cold and refreshing. Although we generally serve white wines too cold for full aroma development, this is one occasion where you want to keep the aromatic chemistry damped down.

Rule #8 is that it’s okay to break any and all of these rules.

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