Is there any type of food more synonymous with summer than lobster? Whether grabbing a warm lobster roll on the boardwalk or picking it apart whole — claws, tail, and all — on the patio, this shellfish dish always seems to taste a bit better when accompanied by sunny skies and warm breezes. Oh, and the right wine, of course.
Rich and sweet, savory, and buttery — thanks to the drawn butter typically found alongside — lobster makes for an interesting pairing. The trick is to select a wine with good acid, to cut through the richness and bring out the freshness of the fish, but also with a round body or creamy texture, to match the weight of the lobster.
Though the possibilities are endless, and experimentation is always encouraged, below are four of our favorite lobster-friendly wines. So tie on a bib, get the shell-cracker ready, and dig in!
Albariño from Rías Baixas
It’s often said that what grows together, goes together, and this white wine produced along the Atlantic coastline of Spain is the ultimate pairing for shellfish. Albariño is typically high in acid with fresh citrus flavors and serious minerality, and certain examples have a subtle creaminess that marries well with lobster. The 2013 Albariño de Fefiñanes, Rías Baixas ($24.99) is a perfect example of this, with a creamy mouthfeel and flavors of lemon-lime, ripe peach, and wet stones — absolutely delicious. We also loved the 2013 Abellio Albariño, Rías Baixas ($11.99) with its bright red apple flavors and clean finish — definitely a crowd favorite.
Like to squeeze a bit of lemon over your lobster? Then you should be drinking Txakoli, which hails from Basque Country in northern Spain. While its high acid and minerality give it some similarities to Albariño, Txakoli (pronounced “cha-koh-lee”) tends to be lower in alcohol and slightly effervescent, making it the perfect palate cleanser for rich shellfish. The 2013 Mokoroa Txakoli, Getariako Txakolina ($17.99) is so bright and springy, with tons of mouth-puckering, lip-smacking, lemony acid and a salty minerality. No need for lemon wedges if you’re drinking this wine!
Unoaked, or Subtley-Oaked, Chardonnay
Now, we’re not talking about your oak-bomb, vanilla-scented candle type chardonnay here. Though this tends to be the archetype, there are many wineries in both the New and Old World producing clean chardonnays with little to no oak. The grape has just enough acid to stand up to the lobster, with a rounder, fuller body. A touch of oak will bring out the soft creaminess as well. Cooler areas of California, New York’s Finger Lakes, and Burgundy, particularly the southern part of the region, would be good areas to look to. The 2012 Dutton-Goldfield Dutton Ranch Chardonnay, Russian River Valley ($27.99) matches the buttery lobster and brightens the dish, with apple flavors and just a touch of vanilla oak.
Bubbly, Any and All!
A special-occasion dish deserves special-occasion wine, and what dresses things up more than a glass of bubbly? Sparklers with a bit of a toasty, creamy quality will be the best matches for whole lobster. There’s no better dish to pop a bottle of true Champagne for, with its soft, mouth-filling bubbles and classic toastiness, but a crémant from France would also be excellent. For a splurge, try the NV Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve Champagne ($64.99), which is just truly lovely — lively, citrusy bubbles greet at the front, evolving into nutty, savory flavors that remain long after the last sip. Like relaxing into a hammock at sunset. The budget-friendly NV Domaine Philippe Tessier Crémant de Loire, Loire Valley ($14.99) balances the saltiness of the buttered lobster very well with round, soft citrus flavors and a bit of chalkiness.