The Best Wines for National Escargot Day

The annual month-long search for the Wild Burgundy Snail has drawn to a close. Today, it’s time to reap the rewards.

Why today? Because today is National Escargot Day.

There… having just lost half of our readers, let’s continue…

Escargot is one of those love-it or hate-it dishes. There’s not much in-between. But considering there are 116 edible varieties of snail, it is a dish (and a topic) that we simply can’t ignore… especially on the Helix Pomatia Linne’s big day.

You thought Americans ate a lot of hamburgers, as we detailed in Wednesday’s post? Well, the French consume 40,000 metric tons of snails each year, which may explain why escargot generally is thought of as part of French cuisine.

Here in the States, I’ve encountered two basic preparations of escargot, and each calls for its own wine pairing partner.

The less common preparation of the two involves cooking the snail meat in chicken stock, which serves to retain most of the natural flavor of the meat. When escargot is prepared this way, I recommend wines that one normally would select to accompany chicken: a crisp, minerally White Chablis, Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio.

The more common preparation involves bathing the snail in a rich butter sauce, typically infused with plenty of garlic. With this style of escargot, you can’t go wrong with a rich, buttery Chardonnay from California, or a dry rosé-style wine.

If you add lemon instead of garlic to the butter sauce, it changes the flavor considerably, and it also changes the wine pairing. With this preparation, opt for Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling or an “unoaked” style of Chardonnay.

A final word to those on the escargot fence: If it has been a while since you tried escargot, be aware that most “eating snails” are now farm raised and fed a special diet. More than ever, escargot is gourmet fare. And when paired with the right wine, escargot can offer a delightful dining experience.

Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
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