Just add Booze to the Lobster Pot: Cooking with Wine, Beer and Spirits

Cooking lobster is a pursuit that deserves a great glass of wine (See our list for the best wines for lobster). And while we very much advocate that you sip on a perfectly balanced Chablis or Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc while you’re cooking, what we really mean is that you toss a glass of that wine into the pot as well.  But don’t stop at wine.  Why not cook lobster with beer and other flavorful spirits?

Wine is often used in cooking to add flavor and balance to a dish. In the case of lobster, wine can add much-needed acidity, helping cut through any richness – particularly important when the lobster is served in butter.

It does take a little bit of care though – too much wine can overwhelm the food’s natural flavor, especially with a meat as delicate as lobster. So when adding it – try stick to about two tablespoons per cup of sauce or broth.

There is no point in using a subtle, delicate wine when you are cooking. Look for something with a reasonably full body, and with plenty of acidities. The flavors in the wine will roughly translate into the dish, so it pays to be a bit mindful. If you use a sweeter wine, that will come across in the dish as well.

The most important thing to remember is to use a wine that you would be happy drinking. Don’t skimp – it’ll make the dish taste better, and any leftover wine won’t go to waste! 

Different Ways of Cooking Lobster with Wine

Lobster Bisque Made with Sherry
Lobster Bisque with sherry.

There are a number of ways to approach this task. Probably the most popular one is to make your sauce with wine to add flavor. This isn’t rocket science by any means – splash in the wine after you’ve sweated your onions and garlic and let it bubble to cook out all the alcohol (you don’t want a boozy sauce, as it will be bitter and unpleasant).

You can then continue building flavor on top of this. A light and aromatic broth will be an interesting way to incorporate some slightly spicy Asian flavors to your lobster. On the other hand, a richer cream sauce infused with wine will pair amazingly with a lobster pasta, like ravioli.

Infusing the flavor of the wine into your lobster is another great way of cooking with wine. A great method is to combine your chosen wine with butter and seasoning to a pan, and then to cook your lobster tail directly in that buttery sauce – which is sure to soak up all the delicious flavor

You can also steam the lobster in white wine, which will make for a more delicate, subtle flavor.

Looking Outside of the Wine Crate

Lobster cooked in wine is a wonderful thing, but there are a host of other alcoholic beverages to use to flavor your dish. Be sure to check out the best cocktails with lobster too!

Beer works in much the same way as wine when cooking. You use it to provide flavor and acidity, although it will give you a maltier, earthier flavor. Something light like a lager or a pilsner will provide moisture more than anything else, but something rich like an amber ale or an IPA will add a lot of flavor to your dish. Check out recommendations for pairing New England craft beer with lobster rolls.

A good place to start is to steam the lobsters in beer. This will be a great way to infuse the lobster with plenty of flavors, without having to do anything too complicated.

You can also use spirits when you cook lobster. The lobster bisque, a classic lobster dish from New England, traditionally uses both white wine and brandy in its preparation. Brandy is made from grapes, so you can consider it like an extremely pepped up version of wine. It adds an intensity of flavor to the dish, helping to elevate the dish and providing some balance to the rich, creamy texture.

A slightly more spectacular way to cook a lobster using spirits is to flambé it. This is not for the faint of heart – flambéing a lobster involves pouring brandy over it and then setting the brandy on fire. This method of cooking was at the peak of fashion in the 1970s, so it’s a fun retro dish as well being a real event. If you do decide to flambé your lobster though, make sure you’ve got a fire extinguisher handy, and watch out for your eyebrows!

Don’t Get Overwhelmed!

Lobster is a showstopper of a thing to serve to your friends and family. It is easy to get intimidated, especially if you are adding some pizzazz in the form of wine, beer or spirits.

But you don’t have to be Julia Child to make lobster spectacular! It can be quick and simple – minimal effort for a maximum meal that is sure to please. We recommend you read our post about the different methods of cooking this delicate meat.

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