Today, Nicholas Daddona — New England-based sommelier and Wine Director for the Boston Wine & Food Festival — shares some of the best white wine with seafood pairings.
Could you explain some of your favorite styles of white wine and tips for pairing wine with seafood? What makes these pairings stand out?
Seafood is a New England staple. Boston and New England also have a unique availability of wines available in our restaurants and shops, as we enjoy an equal amount of Old World (European) and New World (Americas and Southern Hemisphere) wines.
There are three major types of seafood we enjoy in New England – our raw seafood, which includes seafood platters (raw oysters, clams, and cooked shrimp cocktail), fried seafood (whole belly clams being the Boston favorite), and fresh preparations of a variety of seafood including cod, lobster, crab, Atlantic salmon, etc.
Sparkling Wine and Seafood Can Be Ideal
The seafood landscape in New England is vast, but there are a few tips for scouting out the best wine for your dishes. Sparkling wine is a great choice. Estate-grown bottles of Champagne (those made by people who own their own vines) are a fantastic choice. Although a bit harder to find than the grand houses, it is well worth the search as the nuances of flavors can be amplified. This would be my pick for the bounty of fried seafood in New England.
Other Great White Wines to Pair with Seafood
Oysters and raw bars are a New England tradition… or institution (depending on who you ask). I love these little gems with Loire Valley whites as well as Alsace whites. The Rieslings of Alsace pair perfectly with oysters and are some of the best values in the French market today. If you can find it, there is an inexpensive but lovely and bright wine from Alsace called “Edelzwicker,” a blend of many varieties from Alsace. The Edelzwicker, from the producer Shoenheitz, is one of my favorites, and many of these wines come in a liter bottle (bonus!)
Other great Italian white wines such as Soave (from the Veneto region), Falanghina and Greco di Tufo (from Campania) also work exceedingly well with seafood. These wines are higher in acid with citrus, mineral and a delightful texture.
Lastly, we have our lovely fish and shellfish preparations available in New England. These can vary greatly but there are some tools for finding amazing pairings.
Don’t count out rosé! With the ever-expanding rosé market, trust your local wine shop owner. Provence style light rose wines can provide enough zip to pair with seafood dishes, but enough body to handle sides and sauces. There are some fantastic finds out there. Remember, as the summer ends those price reductions ramp up!
Rhone Valley white wines are surprisingly not widely available in many big wine shops, but restaurants and boutique wine shops are full of them. There is a reason: these wines are typically smaller production, keeping the big guys away, but offer spectacular value. These wines (loosely based around Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, Rousanne and Clairette) can offer a medium-to-full body and ample fruit, with a crispness in the back of the palate that clears food nicely. These wines are (surprise!) lower in acid, but pair beautifully. The perfect counter to a lobster roll and a side of coleslaw.