Best Wine for Lobster or Crab [General]

2010 Jul 16
Can anyone advise a good white for lobster or crab? Simply boiled, with butter.

We can go anywhere up to 30 bucks. Dinner is tomorrow night (July 17th). Just thought I would ask here since I was visiting you guys anyway!

We don't want anything too astringent, to match the butteriness...


2010 Jul 16
Beau's Lugtread :-P

2010 Jul 16
I'm off the beer, these days I'm afraid, but my hubby and guests might like it. Can you get it at the beer store?

2010 Jul 16

2010 Jul 16
I have paired lobster off with rieslings from Alsace in the past. There are quite a few of them at the LCBO and they are generally under $30. The cool thing about them with lobster is that they generally have a nice balance between acidity and creaminess that pairs well with the sweetness of lobster. The better ones have a floral character that is neat too.

2010 Jul 16
The Alsatian Rieslings sound promising. I have a Gewurztriminer (sp?) from Niagara--Organized Crime--that we picked up last year, and Natalie Maclean's website suggests a Gewurtz., does anyone know about that?

2010 Jul 17
I've had that Gewürz from Organized Crime, or at least the 2007 version of it. It would be decent with lobster too, but the thing about Gewürz, and this is where I disagree with Natalie Maclean, is that the oily mouthfeel of that wine might not play well with the richness of the lobster. It might be overkill in terms of layering texture on texture.

Another fly choice might be sauvignon blanc (especially a New Zealand one from the north island). That would take the pairing in a wholly different direction where you would be contrasting the crispness and acidity of the wine with the creaminess of the lobster/butter, instead of trying to complement it as a riesling/gewürz would.

2010 Jul 17
I really enjoy Champagne and lobster: the bubbles and acidity work as a great counterpoint to the lobster and butter.

For $30, I don't think you can't get true from-France Champagne, but you could a decent bottle from somewhere else. I've tried and loved Henry of Pelham's Cuvée Catherine Brut.

2010 Jul 17
How about a nice white Burgundy? Or an Ontario chardonnay?

2010 Jul 18
Good call, Mark_Ottawa! And you can get a lot for $30, too.

2010 Jul 18
Thanks all for your excellent suggestions. Here's a blow-by-blow--sorry it's long--if you don't want to read the whole thing but still want to know what worked, skip to the "Verdict".

As you can see in the picture, we opted for simple boiled crab with melted butter (on special at T&T) with home-grown mesclun salad, and new red potatoes. I wished we had corn, but forgot to go to the Main market to find out if any was ready (went to Farmer's today and Edwards' corn is small and expensive, but here.)

Now that I have compared both (lobster was last year's b-day), I think that lobster calls for different wines than crab, because the lobster meat is sweeter and "butterier" (even if you don't boil it in butter, as Thomas Keller suggests!)

We had several different wines, all of which worked well, but I will tell you which seemed to work best with the crab.

They were all in the $22-26 range, except a Pinto Gris from Marlborough, NZ that Natalie Maclean suggested, which was only $13, I think. Kim Crawford, it was, and it was the one that matched the least well, but not because of price, but because it was a little too austere.

Despite Hugh Johnson's decree that "Crab and Riesling are part of the Creator's plan" when we got to the Rideau Street Vintages, we got thinking how hot we were, and let the somellier--who was not our favourite Raymond, who never seems to steer us wrong, but a new guy--turn us toward Chablis, so we bought a Premier Cru for the crab, and a Segura Viudas Cava Brut Reserva to start off the party and hopefully last until the crab.

We had a Fielding Estates Riesling and the aforementioned Gewurtz (2007) from Organized Crime chilling at home, which we purchased in Niagara last year.

Our guests had also been steered by a different LCBO employee to a chablis: a Petit Chablis.

The Verdict:

We started with the cava, but it didn't make it past the stinky Oka and pate with baguette. Great way to start, though--cheap and good and festive! And great for the hot weather. Probably would have been fine for the crab, too.

We opened the crab dining with both bottles of Chablis:

- Chablis Premier cru Montmains from Domaine des Malandes, 2007
- Grand Vin de Bourgogne Petit Chablis from Bouchard Pere & Fils, 2008

Both were perfectly acceptable, fresh, cutting through the hot air on the patio (and not just the hot air from my guests!:-), but as my partner remarked later, "on the ordinary side". They would both suit most everyday palates, however, which was probably the thinking of the LCBO folks.... The Petit Chablis won out over the Premier Cru, interestingly, when it came to matching the crab.

So we were perfectly happy until...a few minutes later...

I cracked the Fielding Estate Riesling, 2008, and the Gewertz. (We had several small amounts going in different glasses at this point.)

What a revelation! The Chablis suddenly seemed sooo pedestrian (but still good) while even though the Riesling was on the sweet side, it sang to the butter and cuddled the crab meat, while the gewurtz added a just-slightly-spicy jingle to the whole thing so that it, literally, won the day. (Sorry for the purple prose.)

Lessons learned:

1. Don't trust LCBO employees who steer you away from the experts' recommendations (like Hugh Johnson), especially if you don't know them. They are going to give you perfectly good advice--for 90 percent of the population.

2. Chablis/chardonnay (maybe try a Niagara?) are perfectly good with crab, and given the hot day, may even be more appropriate when real refreshment is required, or when you aren't sure what your guests will find "interesting". Some Ontario chardonnays may even be a little "buttery" rather than austere.

3. That Gewurtz really jazzed the meal. I'll do it again--even though it wasn't suggested with crab, it had been with lobster, so I'll do it again with lobster too. Just probably not Organized Crime.

4. The Riesling was the right thing to do, but next time maybe a slightly less sweet one. Hugh Johnson was right. Also, our "Rideau Raymond" has more than once commented that he thinks Niagara does Riesling better than all other styles, so maybe try something from there next time too.

5. Get guests to bring different "recommended" wines and try them out in small quantities in different glasses with the food, as we did. Not to be pretentious, just for fun. (And it was fun! We admit we don't know anything much...

6. I agree with "Billy's Best Bottles" that the most important thing is to match the wine with the "mood", not just the food. That's why the sparkling wine was a great starter, and cleaned our palates too, his "Refreshing" category.

Finally, and perhaps most important (if you share our wine tastes anyway), is:

7. Ask for Raymond when you are at the Rideau Vintages!


2010 Jul 19
Thanks for the detailed follow-up, Glinda. Sounds like a lovely meal!

If you liked the aromatic whites, I think that a Viognier might also suit you. Fine examples at some Niagara wineries (Chateau des Charmes, Lenko, Fielding), the Languedoc, and Australia (I like d'Arenberg's a lot, both as a single varietal ["The Last Ditch"] and as a blend ["The Money Spider"]. Great body, which works well with buttery/creamy dishes--lighter bodied wines can seem watery with those.

For a more austere take, try a white Cotes-du-Rhone or Chateauneuf.

For white Burgundy, I am a fan of St-Veran: Very consistent quality, good value (usually around $20). Judicious oak treatment, floral aromas, nice but not overpowering acidity. All recent vintages (since 2004) are very solid.

A more novel choice would be a Chardonnay Musque from Niagara. Usually unoaked, with intense floral aromas and peaches/melon on the palate. Less full-on than a Gewurz or Muscat. Good examples: Cave Spring, Lenko, Fielding, Vineland, Chateau des Charmes. Most are finshed just off-dry.

Unoaked chardonnay from Ontario is another great choice here--less austere than the Chablis, which I agree would fall flat with crab and butter.

Finally, most of the better Ontario barrel fermented Chardonnays would be lovely: Usually less oak and better balanced than other New World Chardonnays.

2010 Jul 21
Some how I think a Kim Crawford Savignon Blanc would hold up well. A little less aromatic, but kick ass flavour. Just a thought.

2010 Jul 24
Unfortunately, we couldn't get the Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc at the store we were at, so we took a chance on the Pinot Gris, which proved O.K. but less than I expected the Sauv B. to be.