Despite the age-old adage not to eat them beyond months that end in the letter "r," the return of patio weather almost always signals an intense urge to sit outside slurping oysters on the half-shell with the appropriate wine accompaniment. As far as following rules goes, the r-month suggestion originates from a time when oysters were wild harvested – allowing for their spawning season, when water temperatures are warmer. Nowadays, commercially available oysters are strictly regulated for both safety and sustainability, so you should feel guilt-free when ordering by the dozen this spring. Plus, water temperatures are still cool enough in most parts of the country to ensure that those bi-valves are firm and tasty. The rules are off for wine pairing too; my motto is always to drink what you love. Still, there are a few tried and true combinations that will elevate the taste experience, framing the flavors of both the oysters and the wine in the best possible way.
Wines of the sort that people in the beer world would call “sessionable” – brisk and refreshing – are typically great with oysters. That’s because their acidity acts much like a squeeze of lemon would. Minerality and certain other wine qualities that give the impression of saltiness – such as the presence of lees during wine aging – also tend to complement the briny-sweet spectrum of West to East Coast oyster flavors.
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Here, six such wines to try with your oysters: