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White Wines with Crab

While we are able to get Dungeness crab almost year round in this city, the month of February is actually crab season. So, in honor of that crustacean that captivates so many of us I have gone in search a few pairings that will help make the meal.

When pairing wine with food there are two ways to go about it: either mimic and match flavors or contrast and compliment flavors- it's all about personal taste. Many automatically think of a big, buttery Chardonnay to go with the sweet richness of crab and the melted butter that is almost always present. My preferences lean toward wines that are a bit more restrained and don't overshadow the food.

For a full, rich wine Viognier is my first thought, a definite rival to Chardonnay but often much more elegant. Ile la Forge's 2002 version ($10.00 @ Amphora, 384 Hayes) has a great, sweet floral characteristic with traces of honeysuckle and orange blossom that will help bring out the sweetness in the crabmeat. It definitely has enough body to stand up to the butter but it's also crisp enough to cut through that and clear your palate for the next bite.

Gewurztraminer is another go to wine for shellfish and a great compliment to spicy, aromatic food. So if there's a bit of chili and fresh herbs in your version of Dungeness, you've got a great match here. CL's 2001 Gewurztraminer ($15.00 @ Amphora, 384 Hayes) is thick and rich with lots of ripe, honeyed fruit like guava and apricot balanced with the spice of clove and black pepper. This pair will make for an exciting, indulgent meal.

I also came across something unexpected that I am quite excited about: a Spanish wine called Godello. It's often said Albari–o or Verdejo are the top whites of Spain, but I found 2001 Vi–a Godeval by Bodegas Godeval ($9.00 @ Amphora, 384 Hayes) to be even more pleasing. It's quite refreshing with bright lemon-lime tartness but it's rounded out with great apple and pear flavors for a nicely balanced medium-bodied wine. There is also a hint of green almond that makes it just that much more interesting. It would be rock star with any shellfish, but boiled crab dipped in lemon garlic butter would make it fairly sublime.

Vineyards Genevieve Robertson can be reached at by_the_glass@hotmail.com