A Beginner's Guide To Pairing Wine With Raw Oysters
Fine wine and oysters served on the half shell are a luxurious treat, but choose the wrong variety of wine and you risk overshadowing the delicate flavour of just-shucked oysters. So, how do you know what wines are up to the job of complementing fresh raw oysters? Crisp, clean whites are your safest bet, but lighter reds can work, too. Here's an overview of four types of wine that pair well with raw oysters:
This French wine is produced from the melon de Bourgogne grape. The grapes are grown in the Loire Valley and the finished product is a lean wine that has light citrusy notes. Recent vintages are briny with a mineral-rich tang that sits perfectly alongside the delicate saline notes that accompany fresh oysters. Muscadet wines tend to have a moderate alcohol level, so they won't overwhelm raw oysters.
Another French wine, chablis is made with chardonnay grapes grown in the Burgundy region. This is a dry wine with notes of flint and steel. The grapes are grown in mineral-rich soil, so the wine is ideal for accentuating the mineral characteristics of fresh oysters. Opt for a young chablis for a crisp palate of citrus fruit and limestone.
New World sauvignon blancs, particularly those from Chile, have a long finish and slightly creamy palate compared to French varieties. With noticeable acidity and notes of crisp green fruit and elderflowers, sauvignon blanc is easy to drink and delicate enough to allow the oysters to take centre stage.
Made from the gamay grape, which is low in tannins, this is a variety of lighter reds that have a comparatively high level of acidity and fresh berry nose. These youthful reds are served slightly chilled to complement their light-bodied style and have a fresh finish. This is an ideal variety to explore if you want to be a little more adventurous with your wine pairing and typically enjoy reds more than whites.
Tips For Success
The main points to consider when choosing a wine for your oysters are as follows:
- The palate of the wine should be delicate to prevent the wine overshadowing the subtle flavour of the oysters.
- The wine should share dominant characteristics with the oysters. For example, oysters have mineral notes, so wines grown in mineral-rich soil will help bring out the flavour of the oysters.
- Acidic or citrusy wines complement the slightly saline juice contained in the shell, so are ideal when consuming oysters raw.
These are just a few examples of the wines that pair well with raw oysters. If you'd like to explore other options while dining out, simply ask your server for their recommendation.