food.and.wine.pairing

(pairing wine with seafood)

Fish goes with white wine, right? 'Nuff said.

If you're a guy who's afraid that drinking white wine makes you look like a wuss, then embrace those nights when you are forced to eat seafood (although if you are insecure about white wine I doubt you're likely to be in a relationship...). Some of the best wines ever made are white, and there is a world of great wine that goes with seafood. Let's break this down into a few categories:

• Light fish in a light sauce (lemon juice or olive oil) - Delicate flavors call for more delicate wine. Stick with crisp, light wines such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc (which works particularly well if there is lemon on the fish), Albarino, Sylvaner, or something white from Provence in the South of France.

• Meatier fish (swordfish, shark, etc) or fish in a cream/butter sauce - If you have fish and cream, immediately think Chardonnay. However, if you're looking for something new, then a white from the Rhone can work very well. These are blends of several different grapes, but the wines generally have a nice weight that stands up well to meatier fish. Another good choice is a Blanc de Blancs Champagne. It's made from 100% Chardonnay, so it has the weight and body you're looking for, along with a creamy richness, and the bubbles will cut right through any cream.

• Salmon - This is a rather unique fish, so it gets its own category. If you need to do red wine with fish, you can definitely get away with a lighter bodied Pinot Noir with salmon. But a better choice would be a dry Rosé from Provence or, more specifically, Bandol. The light cherry flavors of the rosé will hold up well against the meaty salmon, and the minerality of French rosé really plays off the minerals found in heavier fish.

• Raw oysters - The classic thing to pair with oysters is Champagne. Why? Because they go incredibly well together. Raw oysters are somewhat delicate and have very unique mineral and metallic flavors depending on where they come from. The acid and bubbles in a good dry Champagne really accent the minerality in the oyster, and help to cleanse your palate so you can keep tasting the light subtleties of the food. If you're not a fan of Champagne, then get your head examined. However, another wine option is Sauvignon Blanc from Sancerre. Do NOT try a fruity New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, as it will completely overpower the oyster. Sancerre wines are famous for their smoke, flint and mineral qualities, which work well with with raw seafood in general (think Sashimi here too).

• Caviar - As with the oysters, the best thing for caviar is crisp, dry Champagne. Mostly because it's pompous to pair these two expensive things. But the Champagne does work really well to cleanse your palate and not overpower the salty caviar.