3 Red Wines to Drink with Oysters

2011 Matteo Correggia Anthos at Eat The Rich © Derek Brown
By Megan Krigbaum Posted October 07, 2014

Anyone who knows anything about pairing wine with food certainly holds this as a universal truth: you don’t drink red wine with oysters. Until now.

Anyone who knows anything about pairing wine with food certainly holds this as a universal truth: you don’t drink red wine with oysters. EVER. (That said, a flabbergasting number of sommeliers have described to me excruciating moments when a customer will order a big Cabernet with their Kumamotos. Gross.)

Leave it to Derek Brown, the brains behind some of Washington DC’s best bars (Columbia Room, Southern Efficiency, Mockingbird Hill) to prove us all wrong. At his Eat the Rich oyster bar in the Shaw neighborhood, he has a little section of red wine on his drinks list – but it’s a very precisely engineered list of wines.

“Harsh tannins and oysters are terrible together,” says Brown. “It makes this weird, pungent taste and accentuates the salinity in the oysters. But I know that people like red wine, so I wanted to give it a try, at least.” So he tasted through a bunch of wines and here are three that actually worked.

1. 2011 Basty Régnié Cru Beaujolais “We found that fruit-driven Beaujolais that has a nice mineral content can really work. It’s sort of like how a mignonette, made with a sweet vinegar, is great with oysters. You just don’t want any wine with a lot of oak, it gives the oyster a real vegetal quality.”

2. 2011 Matteo Correggia Anthos This light bodied red comes from Italy’s Piedmont region. “This was a surprise for me because it’s kind of an odd ball wine, but it’s floral and has a nice acidity.”

3. 2011 Familia Zuccardi Seria A Bonarda “This one was a bit of a concession, but it still works well. We know that the zombie hordes love Malbec, but we didn’t want to kill the lovely Rappahanock oysters that we serve with a Malbec. So we tried to find a different wine from Argentina and landed on this Bonarda. It’s fruit-forward and it works surprisingly well.”

Related: 19 Fantastic Oyster Recipes
Best Oyster Bars in America
People's Best New Bar Northeast Winner: Southern Efficiency

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