Ocean meets Wine
The great variety of seafood invites you to be creative in the kitchen. And the great variety of German white and rosé wines makes it easy to find just the right wine to go with your crustaceans, mussels and seafood delights. As a rule, rosé or white wines are better companions for shellfish and crustaceans than red wines. This is because the protein of the seafood reacts with the tannins contained in the red wine – and that often leads to a dull, metallic taste.
The classic appetizer is a shrimp or prawn cocktail with a lush cocktail sauce. Since the crabmeat is subtly sweet, the appetizer may even be served with canned fruit such as peach or pineapple pieces. A strong, pleasantly dry single-site Riesling, to be found in many German wine-growing regions, is a harmonious companion for the shrimp cocktail. And if you serve the prawn cocktail along with the aperitif, you will be delighted to find how well it is suited to Winzersekt Brut with Riesling or Pinot Blanc as a base wine.
In the Mediterranean cuisine, crustaceans are often sautéed in a pan with olive oil, garlic, tomatoes and herbs, and they are often served alongside pasta. The fine vegetable aromas are nicely accentuated by a chewy Silvaner or a complex Sauvignon Blanc.
Fans of Asian food may use crustaceans in a Thai curry, prepared with ample amounts of ginger, chili and fresh, crisp vegetables. Lovely with Riesling, Muscatel and Scheurebe with subtle residual sugar. If you prefer dry wines, try your Thai curry with a creamy Pinot Blanc.
Mussels or cockles boast tender meat and a subtle taste. As a rule, they are steamed and served with a sauce that is not too dominant and uses root vegetables, white wine, pepper, cream or tomato puree as ingredients. These mussels also taste great in Mediterranean pasta dishes. Ideally, they are accompanied by not too full-bodied and dry white wines such as Müller-Thurgau, Pinot Blanc or Silvaner. A Portugieser rosé is another great choice.
A dry Winzersekt is not the only suitable companion for oysters, which are enjoyed raw, very well chilled and with just a few splashes of lemon juice. Their pure taste also goes very well with a light white wine with subtle aromas, such as Chasselas from the Markgräflerland region, an Auxerrois from the upper reaches of the Moselle or a Pinot Blanc from Franconia. The adventurous among you might want to try and combine oysters with noble sweet wines, as the Russian tsars used to do. A Riesling Auslese or Beerenauslese from the Moselle or the Middle Rhine region that has aged for a long time is an excellent choice. The saltiness of the oyster will interplay with the slate minerality and the mature fruitiness of these wines.
Seafood such as squid or octopus is often fried and served with a dip of aioli. They go very well with a crisp, fresh and dry Pinot Noir rosé or a dry Pinot Gris. If the shellfish is thinly sliced and served as a carpaccio, marinated in lime juice and olive oil, a dry Silvaner or Sauvignon Blanc might prove to be the best companion.
During the barbecue season, lobster or crayfish can be cut in half lengthwise and roasted on the shell, merely seasoned with butter, salt and pepper. The hearty roast aromas of the barbecue render the taste of the crustaceans even more intense. Consequently, they can take full-bodied wines with wooden cask aromas – such as barrique Chardonnay or Pinot Blanc from the Pfalz region or Baden.
Shellfish such as scampi and prawns are roasted in a grill tray inside their shell, so they don’t lose too much of their juice. All seafood should never be cooked for too long or over too much heat. This kind of seafood likes a fresh Pinot Blanc.
Fish such as trout, char and gilthead are often softer and juicier when grilled wrapped in tin foil rather than directly on the grate. Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay and Silvaner are perfect partners. A light Riesling from the Moselle with subtle fruitiness is welcome as well.
If the fish is prepared directly on the grate or in a grill tray, maybe even marinated or strongly seasoned, it requires a partner such as a stronger Riesling or Chardonnay. A lightly chilled dry red wine can also be an adequate companion for heartily seasoned fish.
Whole fish with herbs can take a juicy Silvaner, which also boats herbal aromas – or even a red wine that is not too full-bodied.