Pairing Good Lobster and Good Wine: What Works and What Doesn’t

What wine should I pair with my steamed Maine lobster dish? Red? White? 
Which wines go with seafood?
How will I know?

Maine lobster tails. Thick, creamy chowder. Lobster mac ’n cheese. Lobster rolls. LobsterAnywhere knows seafood and delivers perfect lobster dinners. So what’s the best wine to serve with lobster?

Knowing how to pair food and wine can sometimes be daunting. But don’t fret! When deciding what to pair with your dinner, the general rule (with some exceptions) is: Red wine with red meat and white wine with white meat. Delicate food go with delicate white wines – and rich, bold meaty dishes pair fantastically with big, bold wines!

Lobster Wine Pairing

Which Wines Pair Well With Lobster?

Lobster, with its white meat and delicate flavor, needs a light, fresh companion.

Acidity is key in pairing wine with lobster. Think about how great a squeeze of lemon is on fish – a light, crisp wine with great acidity can do the same thing. Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio can be great in this regard, but so can Riesling and Chardonnay.

Each of these wines has its strong point:

  • Riesling: This misunderstood grape is known for its great acidity, and can range from sweet to to very dry. A dry riesling – one from Alsace in France or the Eden Valley in Australia – is a great choice with lobster.
  • Sauvignon Blanc: Dry and crisp, a Sauvignon Blanc is perfect in the summer alongside a lobster dinner.
  • Chardonnay: There is no grape variety as versatile as Chardonnay. It ranges from light to full-bodied – which means there is always a style of Chardonnay to suit any lobster dish, from lobster tail to lobster claws, and even lobster bisque.  
  • Pinot Grigio: The lightest of these four wines goes well with lobster and just about any other seafood you can think of, including crab, oysters, scallops and most shellfish. It is less herbaceous than Sauvignon Blanc, but still has that great citrus component that works so well with fish.

As with all dishes, the pairing depends not only on the seafood, but also on the flavors (and the sides) that the seafood is served with. The rule of thumb still applies here – Buttered Lobster, cooked in the shell, smothered in butter and served over buttery polenta, will pair excellently with a big, buttery Chardonnay from California or Australia.

In contrast, lobster in a lighter sauce (or better yet, simply straight from the shell) needs a light, firm and slightly crisp wine to balance out the flavors. A fresh, light Sauvignon Blanc or a dry, fresh Pinot Grigio would be a perfect match.

Remember that lobster is a premium ingredient, so it needs a premium wine to go with it. Don’t skimp on the price!

Seafood Wine Pairing
Lobster goes well with champagne! Pictured are hot buttered lobster rolls prepared by Jack Arnold.

Major Wine and Lobster Pairings Don’ts

Lobster is a surprisingly versatile seafood to match with wine, as it goes with everything from light, acidic drops to heavier wines with some oak.

According to the book, Pairing with The Masters, by renowned chef Ken Arnone and Master of Wine, Jennifer Simonetti-Brown, there are a couple of wines to be careful with when serving lobster for dinner:

  • Rich, oaky Chardonnay: Sometimes, if a wine is too rich, it can overpower the sweet taste of the lobster.
  • NV Brut Champagne: If a champagne is too dry, it can alter the flavor of the lobster in a bad way. Steer clear of zero dosage and brut nature wines, and try and find more delicate styles of Champagne, like Pol Roger or Laurent Perrier.
  • Roero Arneis: Sometimes wines that have a lemony flavor can clash with the lemon that you’ve served the lobster with.

Lobster is very much a white wine pairing – it will not go nearly as well with red wine. The saltiness in the lobster tends to draw out the bitterness of the red, while the tannin in the wine will bring out the salty iodine notes in the lobster.

Pairing Seafood and Wine

Lobster and wine is a real treat, but there are plenty more fish in the sea…

Every seafood dish deserves a wine pairing to truly emphasize the meal’s flavor. So we’ve put together a small guide to help you pick the perfect wine, no matter what kind of seafood you’re eating:

Fried Seafood

Fried seafood like tempura prawns and beer-battered fish goes perfectly with sparkling wine!  There’s always room for Bubbly. A Toso Brut from Argentina or a Cava from Spain is a great addition to a meal like this, as it will cut through the fattiness and leave you with a lingering, light apple and lemon mouth-feel.

Spicy Seafood

When it comes to spicy seafood, try to lean more toward slightly sweeter white wines, such as Marsanne, Roussanne, Riesling, Muscat or Gewürztraminer.

Spicy food is hard to pair well with red wine, as the tannins and spice can be overwhelming on the palate. If you truly want to pair your spicy seafood with a red wine, opt for a lighter-bodied wine like Pinot Noir, Gamay, Cinsault or a lighter style of Zinfandel. These wines are flavorful without being too high in tannin or alcohol content.

Scallops

If you’ve ever seen an episode of Hell’s Kitchen, you’ll know that scallops are a popular seafood dish to prepare, and can be a real show-stopper. They deserve a wine to really complement the dish. The acidity of a minerally Loire Sauvignon Blanc is a great contrast to the softness of the scallop. Learn how to select the best scallops for the best wine. 

Scallops, shellfish, and Lobster also go fantastically with the Albariño and Verdelho wines made in Spain and Portugal (and more and more often in California).

Tuna

Try pairing a tuna steak with something light and fruity. Tuna can stand up to some quite robust flavors, so this is where a bottle of rosé or a light Pinot Noir would work perfectly.

Shrimp

Shrimp dishes, whether they are grilled, sautéed, steamed, or in a cocktail, go splendidly with dry Fino Sherry from southern Spain.

Halibut

Halibut is an extremely rich, fulsome fish, so pair it up with a Chardonnay that can match that creamy, full feel!

Oysters

All romance movies tell us that there is nothing that goes together as well as oysters and bubbly. Be sure to go for a dry, Brut Champagne, or a methode traditionnelle. Anything sweet won’t work quite as well.

If you’re not a fan of bubbly, however, pair your oysters with any other bone-dry white – such as Sauvignon Blanc or Muscadet.

Salmon

Salmon, as most people have probably noted, is not a white-fleshed fish. This should be a good indicator that the wine you match with it doesn’t necessarily have to be white. Stick to the lighter reds – such as Zinfandel and Pinot Noir. You’ll need a slightly fuller wine with a fuller fish.

Other Wines to try with Seafood

Of course, there are a million different wines to try with your favorite seafood.

Try out a Vinho Verde from Portugal, or a Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley – these varietals complement lobster, most lean fish, raw clams and oysters too.

Fuller white wines, such as Italian Vermentino, Soave, Greek Assyrtiko, Austrian Grüner Veltliner and Viognier are great for lobster, crab and oyster dishes too.

But what About Red Wine and Seafood?

Pairing seafood and wine: What pairs well.

Remember what we said about seafood not going with red wine? Well, rules are meant to be broken!

Softer, lighter reds, made from thin-skinned grapes like Pinot Noir or Gamay, can accompany your favorite seafood, if matched thoughtfully.  

Common seafood dishes like spaghetti and clam sauce, octopus, swordfish, tuna steaks and salmon can pair wonderfully with lighter reds. These wines are also great chilled for an al fresco summer clambake.

The next step in lobster and wine matching would be to master the skill of cooking with the two. Of course, when we say “Cooking with wine,” we aren’t referring to cooking while sipping on a glass of your favorite wine (although that is definitely allowed!) 

Not a Wine Drinker?

Not a wine drinker, no worries. There’s plenty of other options like a  local craft beer; or wash down that lobster dinner with a fun cocktail or drink! And there’s plenty of non-alcoholic drinks to sip with your seafood like a sparkling lemonade or a home brewed ice tea.

You Pick Up the Wine, LobsterAnywhere will Deliver the Lobster!

Whether you are looking for a wine pairing with lobster tail, craving a lobster dinner for two, or looking for the perfect business or personal gift, you can trust LobsterAnywhere.com to deliver the best tasting seafood. Log on to LobsterAnywhere today and have tomorrow’s dinner delivered to your doorstep.

We’ll leave the wine selection up to you.

Special thanks to Charles Olken, the publisher of Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine, a monthly newsletter available by subscription only. In its 40 years of existence, the Guide has proven itself as an unrivaled source of accurate, hard-hitting commentary on the wines and wineries of California.

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