Oyster & Wine Pairing Research

posted Jan 10, 2012, 4:41 PM by christy bergman   [ updated Feb 26, 2012, 3:56 PM ]
oyster wine pairing research

Oysters have a surprisingly narrow wine pairing range, the pairing is finicky and it depends on which oyster and which wine.  The ideal oyster wine pairing is one where the wine enhances the flavor of the oyster and you finish eating/drinking the two together thinking to yourself, "That was a really great oyster!" Last year we "researched" 96 combinations of oysters and wine, see our event page.

My favorite pairing last year was the Evening Cove oyster from British Columbia with Bonny Doon Vineyard, 2010, Vin Gris de Cigare, Arroyo Seco.  The light cucumber and watermelon finish of the oyster was carried beautifully by the delicately scented Rhone blend. 

It's Winter 2012, and time to do Oyster + Wine Pairing again!  This time bigger!  Oysters sourced and shucked by SF Oysternerd Greg Babinecz and Eric Hyman, buyer at Waterbar.  Local pop-up caterer, Global Eats Anthony Rizzi, providing the non-oyster edibles (I hear one of the apps will be pork belly).  The venue has 2 floors including a cosy wind-protected roof deck.  Date/Time: Thurs Feb 23rd, 7-9pm. Location: Dottie's 28-6th St. $60 RSVP >here<.

It took us three rounds of tasting.  Round I, we sampled a whole bunch of different oysters and a whole bunch of different wines.  Round II we repeated with a whittled down handful of oyster varieties and some of the same + different wines.  Round III we re-tasted the difficult to pair oysters each with two top contender wine pairings.  Here's what we learned.

1. Oyster:  Glacier Bays from Glacier Bay, New Brunswick.  Mildly briny, sweet flesh, yeasty finish.
Wine:  Domaine Félines Jourdan, 2010, Picpoul de Pinet, Languedoc, FRANCE.  Ripe melons and white flowers on the nose, a certain weight on the palate that includes sea water, a light, stony, mineral, lemon peel finish. $25/bottle.

Pairing Notes:  The oyster is very approachable with its sweet meat and makes a good first oyster of the evening for people to try.  The wine pairing is safe, and leaves the lingering sweet yeasty finish of the oyster in your mouth.

2.  Oyster:  Island Creeks from Duxbury, MA.  Extremely briny, rich buttery flesh, lobster stock finish.
Wine:  Alta Mesa Cellars, 2010, Verdelho, Alta Mesa in Lodi.  A dry white wine with peach skin and savoriness, hinting at pork, lavender and lemon verbena.  The tiny juice to grape ratio makes a weighty white that traditionally pairs with codfish. $15/bottle.

Pairing Notes:  The oyster feels very decadent and this weighty almost savory white elongates the oyster's lobster finish.

3.   Oyster:  Drakes Bay from Drake's Estero, CA.  Tender, delicate, briny, as you’d expect from an area that sees virtually no rain, and sweet with a touch of bitter herb.
Wine:  Metate Hill Vineyards, 2008, Albariño Barrica, Calavaras County.  Well-integrated oak complements flavors of orange citrus and pear. $24/bottle.

Pairing Notes:  This wine accentuates the flavor punch of the Olympia, then finishes with the bitter herb of the oyster.

Update:  Michael Stange will be in attendance, pouring his wine! Michael's family is originally from Castilla region of Spain, now he's making Albariño and other Spanish variety wines in Calaveras County.    

4. Oyster:  Olympia from Totten Inlet, WA.  Sweet, coppery, musky, nutty, celery-salt.  Tiny things that pack more flavor and interest than a full-sized oyster.
Wine:  Wertzberger, 2010, Chasselas, Russian River.  Aromas of ocean, seaweed, and pears, finishing with green apples and apple seeds. $15/bottle.

Pairing Notes:  This variety that's the original Swiss fondue wine, makes a neutral pairing at the start and middle of the oyster so you can really enjoy its brine, and leaves a nice, long, lingering finish of the musky smokiness of the oyster.

Update:  Bill Wertzberger will be in attendance, pouring his wine! Bill is my hero because he finds old, abandoned vineyards and restores them, including this 60-year old Chasselas vineyard, just behind J Winery in Healdsburg.    

5. Oyster:  Kusshi from Barkley Sound, British Columbia.  Considered the primadonas of oysters, the flavor is similar to a Kumamoto but cleaner, a more delicate balance of brackishness and floral, all with a creamy, meaty mouthfeel.
Wine:  Y. Rousseau, 2010, French Colombard, Russian River.  Sweet and sour acidity with only 15% aged in oak, it has tart tangerine, citron, lemongrass and mineral finish. $20/bottle.

Pairing Notes:  When you finish this wine with this oyster, all you can think of is wasn't that a great oyster!

Update:  Susan Rousseau will be in attendance, pouring Y. Rousseau wine! Yannick can't make it, but his wife will be happy to tell you more about the wines.

6. Oyster:  Rappahannock from Rappahannock River, Chesapeake Bay, VA.  The least salty oyster from the East Coast, sweet, smooth, almost buttery.  Described as an oyster for people with "no palate or a great palate".
Wine:  you decide!

oyster wine pairing

christy bergman,
Mar 1, 2012, 10:35 AM