Wine Pairings for Lobster Newburg and the Easter Ham

Baked hamToday is National Lobster Newburg Day. We’re not sure how it came about, so you’ll just have to take our word for it.

What we do know is how the iconic dish came about. Multiple sources confirm that it was created by Ben Wenburg, a sea captain who demonstrated its preparation to Charles Delmonico at Delmonico’s restaurant in New York. The chef there then made some refinements and the dish was added to the menu under the name “Lobster a la Wenburg.”

The quest for credit can be a tumultuous thing, and later, when Wenburg and Delmonico argued over the origin of the dish, it was removed from the menu. This apparently angered so many patrons that it eventually was restored under the name “Lobster Newburg.”

Because the Newburg sauce (which also can be used to liven up crab or shrimp, incidentally) is so rich (made from butter, cream and egg yolks, as well as Sherry and seasonings), it needs to be paired with a rich and creamy wine. There are two main options: Chardonnay made in that style, or sparkling wines that have a creamy mouthfeel.

Either way, we suggest following your Lobster Newburg meal with a nice, long walk to counteract those delicious calories.

You may want to do the same this Sunday if you happen to be planning or participating in an Easter feast. For many families, Easter equates with ham, a salty meat that poses its own wine-pairing challenges.

Following are excerpts from a 2008 Vinesse Today blog about Thanksgiving, but applies to dealing with our favorite Easter main dish as well…

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In this increasingly time-crunched world, many families have migrated from preparing the entire feast at home to picking up certain prepared items at the supermarket to “outsourcing” the whole meal. That’s one reason the popularity of Honey-Baked Ham has exploded. It’s pre-cooked, pre-sliced, and just as delicious cold (perhaps even more so) than it is hot.

Even with that sweet, crunchy topping that defines the Honey-Baked Ham, the overriding palate impression provided by ham is saltiness. Just as we match wine to the flavor of a pasta dish’s sauce, we select wines to accompany ham based on how they mesh with saltiness.

Since salt creates thirst, the best wines are those that have bright acidity. While every wine carries the “trademark” of the man or woman who made it, we can generally say that appropriate choices would include:

  • Reds — Beaujolais (particularly Nouveau), Grenache, Chianti and sparkling Blanc de Noirs.

Keep in mind that the wine’s color doesn’t matter nearly as much as its “mouthfeel” — i.e., the impression on the palate. So it’s perfectly fine — and perhaps even inspired — to drink white wine with a red meat such as ham.

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Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
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