What I’m Drinking

Jan 01, 2009

‘Tis the season to consume many oysters, and to wash them down with libations of all kinds. Bubbly comes to mind this week, and you can’t go wrong there. In fact, if you’d like to go really, really right there, join me at the Tour de Champagne, when we will choose (after rigorous testing) the Greatest Oyster Champagne of All Time.

Until then, I’ll reserve my thoughts on bubbly. In any case, I’ve been mixing it up this week. The rundown:


Lieb Cellars Pinot Blanc

The oysters were Mystics, from Fishers Island Sound, and they were very fine indeed. In the spirit of the localvore, I cast about for an accompaniment that would be close at hand. I was searching for the essence of the nice end of Long Island Sound, and I found it in Lieb Family Cellars’ 2007 Pinot Blanc, from Long Island’s North Fork. The naturally produced Pinot Blanc had a creamy-apple smoothness that set off the oysters’ salty tang, while sharing with them a zinc finish.


Tiara 2007 Sauvignon Blanc

“Guava” is not a word you hear often with Sauvignon blancs, but you should. What most people call “grapefruit” or “kiwi” is actually closer to guava, however, most people wouldn’t know a guava from an iguana, so they never think to use it in their tasting notes. (Real guava, it should be pointed out, is far more acid than the guava juice abominations found in various stores.) Anyway, I love a big burst of guava in my wine, and the 2007 Tiara delivers. Too tropical for my Mystic oysters, it was ideal with some Totten Inlets.



Muscadet Sevre et Maine is the Naomi Campbell of wines–bracingly tart and alarmingly thin. It makes a thrilling accompaniment to oysters (as would Naomi Campbell herself). Look for bottles that say SUR LIE, aged on the yeast, which implants a little more body. Domaine de la Fruitiere’s Petit M bottling is a good one.


Muscadet Martini

A splash of tongue-tingling Muscadet in your martini instead of vermouth, a twist of lemon, and a spoonful of snow (okay, it’s a seasonal drink) and you have the perfect Winter Solstice, oyster-friendly martini. Cheers!


Cucumber Hendrick Martini

If you’re feeling a bit more traditional, a dry Hendrick Martini is the way to go–Hendrick being the gin that pairs best with raw oysters. That’s because cucumber is one of the botanicals used to create the Hendrick flavor, as my friend Jim Price of Chicagourmets taught me, and cucumber is also the most distinct note in Pacific oysters, especially those from Hood Canal (Baywater Sweets and Hama Hamas are my favorites) and Penn Cove. In lieu of an olive, drop a slice of cucumber in the martini for intrigue.


Vinho Verde

I mentioned this in my book, but I’ll bring it up again, because it just passed muster at a dinner party. Vinho Verde, that odd Portuguese wine that is Albarinho’s less respectable cousin, always has a weird whiff of stale soda water to it. (From the prickle of carbonation added, I suspect. Perrier has this also.) It’s not a bad thing; just noticeable. And many oysters also have this—something to do with the calcium carbonate they sequester, perhaps? Anyway, it’s a combo that works, and somehow feels deeply Iberian.

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