When it comes to food the motto should always be, drink what you love and eat what you love. Still, there are some tried and tested combinations that will elevate the taste experience and the flavors of both the oysters and the wine in the best possible way. It also makes quite a difference how you season them. You may want to let the wine do the job of a squeeze of lemon or can simply add lemon that can make wines and champagnes work better.
Before we can choose a proper wine, we must understand that all oysters aren’t created equal. For example, the oceans on either end of the continental United States offer surprisingly different temperatures and conditions, resulting in seafood, from lobster to mollusks, with its own unique flavor profile. Oysters hailing from the east are typically meatier and saltier, particularly the farther south you go. Pacific oysters, on the other hand, tend toward the more delicate, buttery side. Go too bold and you’ll wash out the understated notes of certain oysters, while a wine that’s too light or creamy will be overpowered by an especially briny selection.
Here are the wines to try with your oysters:
Champagne - This list simply couldn’t start without bubbles, here it’s the bubbles that provide the magic, the perfect textural contrast to the smooth velvety texture of the oysters. Champagne is, of course, a classic choice when paired with raw oysters. We suggest the Lanson Noble Cuvee Blanc de Blancs Brut, which is made from Chardonnay grapes and aged to perfection so the fruit is less pronounced and the mineral notes and acidity stand strong.
Muscadet - The budget-friendly option, clean-as-a-whistle Muscadet acts just like a squeeze of lemon - so don’t add lemon too. Among the multitude of tasting notes, you’ll find for both oysters and wine, you’re likely to find references to “biscuit” or yeasty flavors, and aged Muscadet wines offer these flavors in spades. There are also great values to be had; rarely do Muscadets get above the $15 to $20 price range.
Chablis - There are actually fossilised oyster shells in the soil of the Chablis region so it’s maybe not too fanciful to say that’s why it hits just exactly the right note. This lends the wine a truly unique set of tasting notes, from its high acidity to its complex minerality. An ideal pairing for both oysters on the half shell and heavier preparations like fried oysters or creamy sauces.
Chardonnay - This one is for those, who like their oysters cooked. Not great with raw oysters but very nice with cooked ones, particularly in a creamy sauce or chowder. Choose a lightly oaked, creamy style such as you find in Burgundy, Limoux in southern France.
Sancerre - This is yet another French offering, this time hailing from an ancient sea bed and made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes, known for their bright fruit. The combination results in complex whites with notes of fruit and spice along with an often flint-tinged edge. A highly enjoyable wine to sip while enjoying a variety of oysters with mignonette sauce.
Other wines may well work too depending on the seasoning and/or other ingredients you put with them