Selecting the “right” wine to serve with a particular dish often has more to do with how the dish is prepared than what the dish is.
Take chicken, as an example. A piece of original recipe KFC would pair nicely with one type of wine, but a chicken breast smothered in mozzarella and marinara sauce would fare best with a different type (not to mention color).
And so it is with lobster, one of the most popular dishes offered by restaurants each Valentine’s Day.
Normally, California Chardonnay—made in a style that leans toward rich and buttery, with a rather low acid level—works best as an aperitif or sipping wine. But pour a glass alongside a lobster tail served with drawn butter, and you have a pairing made in heaven.
Even better: that style of Chardonnay served with lobster mac ’n’ cheese (a recipe for which will appear here tomorrow).
Chop up pieces of lobster and put them in a salad—perhaps with shrimp and crabmeat added—and the wine pairing partner switches to Sauvignon Blanc. Another option: Vinho Verde.
Then there’s garlic. What if that melted butter you’re using for dipping is infused with the wonderful flavor of garlic?
Interestingly, the wine-pairing possibilities multiply. Sauvignon Blanc would still work nicely, but so would several other wines. Among them: Italian Vermentino, Spanish Rosado (rosé-style) and the little-known but very tasty French Picpoul de Pinet (recently featured in The World of Wine Club).
And what about “surf and turf”—lobster, paired with a nice, thick, juicy steak? Well, truthfully, there is no perfect pairing partner for that combination.
One solution would be to order a rich, buttery Chardonnay to accompany the lobster, and a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon to accompany the steak… and then eat the lobster and steak separately (lobster first, since the progression when drinking wine should always be from white to red).
Another would be to enjoy a few bites of lobster, pack up the rest for a Day-After-Valentine’s-Day celebration, and then cut into that steak, accompanied by a nice glass of red.
Sometimes with food and wine, as in personal relationships, compromise can lead to win-win solutions.
Tomorrow: A tasty recipe for leftover lobster.