How To Pair Wine With Oysters

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3. Avoid Sweet Wines -- Focus on wines that are BONE DRY

Rowan Jacobsen said in his landmark work, A Geography of Oysters, that "even a hint of sweetness in the wine will obliterate any sense of sweetness or body in the oyster." This is quite true. There are some wine and food pairings where sweet and savory can play off each other nicely, but oysters and sweet wines do not fall into that category. The minerality and brininess of the oyster is not enhanced by a sweet wine, nor is the contrast between the briny taste of an oyster and the sweetness of the wine an enjoyable experience for the palate. Conversely, wines that are bone dry, and have good acidity and minerality make great pairings for oysters. These wines enhance the flavors of the oyster, and lead to a truly pleasurable experience.


Dornenburg, Andrew, and Karen Page. What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea -- Even Water -- Based on Expert Advice from Americas Best Sommeliers. New York: Bulfinch, 2006.

Jacobsen, Rowan. A Geography of Oysters: The Connoisseur's Guide to Oyster Eating in America. New York, NY: Bloomsbury, 2008.


Try These Wines

For Oysters With a Mineral Finish

For oysters with lots of minerality (other than Belons), good wines to turn to are the usual suspects of Gruner Veltliner, Chablis, Muscadet, and leaner, racier Champagne. These wines are known for their crisp, clean, mineral influenced flavor profiles, and will pair nicely with oysters that have strong minerality in their flavor profile. Rowan Jacobsen states Gruner Veltliner was the "surprise winner of the Grand Central Oyster Bar's 2006 oyster wine competition," due to its "peppery mix of minerals: stone, flint, and chalk." Chablis is also a great choice here, as the soils in which it is grown are mostly limestone and fossilized seashells. Those characteristics are readily seen in the wine.

When thinking about Belons, I would hesitate to offer any recommendations for wine pairings. Why ruin the wine? It doesn't enhance the taste of the Belon, and in general, only accentuates the metallic taste inherent to the oyster. If you are compelled to pair wine with your Belon, stick to something sparkling, but be warned that pairing a nice Champagne with a Belon will likely result in the waste of good Champagne.

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