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Oysters & Wine

Shucking OystersOver the last few years, I've become quite obsessed with oysters, and have started eating them as often as I can afford to do so. Unfortunately, like wine, oysters are a somewhat expensive indulgence, but fortunately, they are incredibly healthy. Averaging about 10 calories per oyster, they are high in protein, low in saturated fat, and are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. In my opinion, they are the perfect appetizer, especially when paired with a crisp, white wine.

I have to confess, when I first started eating oysters, I thought that Champagne was the only appropriate pairing for them. However, over time, I found that wines such as Txakoli, and other crisp, dry, white wines make phenomenal companions for oysters. Still, when I was approached by Pangea Shellfish to help them craft a wine pairing page for their site, I felt as though I had some learning to do.

Pangea ShellfishThankfully, resources such as What to Drink with What You Eat and A Geography of Oysters by Rowan Jacobsen were available to help me develop and refine my knowledge of oyster and wine pairings, and Pangea Shellfish was kind enough to send me 9 different types of oysters, which I used to test various pairing suggestions. After eating my way through East Coast Oysters such as Belons, Standish ShoresWellfleets, Summersides, and Pemaquids, and West Coast Oysters such as Komo Gways, Kumamotos, Penn Coves, and Kaiparas, I was thoroughly satiated, well acquainted with a wide-variety of oysters, and ready to offer up my thoughts on pairing suggestions.  

A sample of our oyster bountyTo me, the really interesting thing about oysters, is that like wine, they demonstrate the effect of terroir. An oyster's flavor is influenced by the salinity of the water it grows in, the local tides, and the make-up of the sea floor. It is an absolute thrill to taste a Wellfleet oyster alongside a Kumamoto, as the flavor profiles could not be more different. Whereas the Kumamoto is plump, mild and shows hints of melon, the Wellfleet is salty, crisp, and full of minerality. While I'm not an oyster expert by any means, it was a fun opportunity to taste the different varieties, and note the stark differences between them.

As far as the pairings go, my tasting experience largely validated the suggestions that Rowan Jacobsen, and the experts of What to Drink with What You Eat had to offer. You can view my tasting suggestions at the Pangea Shellfish wine pairings page. Cheers!

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