Wine and Shellfish Pairings

I previously talked about wine pairings with various types of fish so today I will review the rest of the food that comes from the oceans of the world, shellfish.

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So, what kind of wine goes best with shellfish? It is commonly said that white wine goes with seafood and red wine goes with meat. However, since I have written this article and you are reading it, you probably know it isn’t quite as simple as that.

Shellfish served without a sauce tends to call for light whites, like Vouvray from France’s Loire valley or sparkling wines like Champagne.

When it comes to shellfish served in sauce, the sauce should be your guide when selecting an appropriate wine.  Generally, though, most pair well with a medium-bodied acidic white wine like unoaked Chardonnay, white Burgundy or German Riesling.

Spicy dishes will pair well with a wine that has some sweetness, like an off-dry Gewürztraminer or an Austrian Grüner Veltliner.

If you can’t decide or everyone at the table is eating something different, Champagne is a great choice as it is one of the most food-friendly of wines.

You can also look to the cooking style to help you choose your wine.  Generally, Teriyaki and other sweet sauces pair well with a sweeter wine, such as an off-dry rosé.  Spicy sauces like curries go well with a sweet or slightly sweet low-alcohol white wine like Riesling or Moscato.  Herb-based sauces seasoned with basil, parsley, or mint pair well with a Sauvignon Blanc or Torrontés.

Here are some wine suggestions to go along with specific shellfish dishes:

Lobster Rolls

Lobster rolls pair well with a light and fragrant white wine like Spain’s Verdejo or a medium-bodied white wine like Chardonnay.


Light and citrusy ceviche will go well with a high-acid, citrusy white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or an Austrian Grüner Veltliner.

Clam Chowder

Creamy New England style clam chowder goes well with an oaked Chardonnay. On the other hand, tomato-based Manhattan clam chowder pairs well with a light white wine such as a Greek Assyrtiko.

Shrimp Cocktail

There are both red and white wine options to go along with a shrimp cocktail.  A white wine with a touch of sweetness, such as an off-dry Riesling, or a fruity medium-bodied red like Merlot, or even a sparkling wine like Cava are options.

Crab Cakes

Crab cakes go well with a lightly oaked Chardonnay, or a light white wine like Sauvignon Blanc.

Seafood Boil

A southern-style crawfish or shrimp boil will have some spice and heat so it will need a slightly sweet white wine like an off-dry Riesling or Viognier, or even a sparkling wine like Cava or Prosecco.

Linguine & Clam Sauce

This light and garlicky pasta goes well with a light white wine like Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio). If you opt for a red clam sauce, a Chianti will go well.


Mussels in a white wine sauce will pair well with a white wine, such as Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio), Chablis, or Sauvignon Blanc. Mussels in a tomato-based sauce will pair well with lighter to medium-bodied red wines that are high in acidity, like Pinot Noir.

In Closing …

Any time of year is the perfect time to enjoy shellfish and wine, whether you’re dining at your favourite restaurant, your own dining table, or even in the summertime backyard.

Sláinte mhaith

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