Oysters & White Wine – A Guide to the Perfect Pairing

Amazing Matriarch is here to help you host the perfect oyster & white wine paring be it for your next party, or a night in with your special someone.

The Oysters

The best way to pick oysters is to do a taste test; whether it be with a marked, mixed dozen at home or at a local raw bar (check out the 10best oyster bars in Boston or search 10best.com  for ideas in your city from other local experts) a sampling will hep you decide what you want to serve.

There’s been a battle between east and west coast oysters for years, personally I find oysters from each coast equally enjoyable, while my husband prefers the more mild flavors and smaller since of west coast oysters. The difference between oyster from each coast is that you’ll find large, firm, meaty morsels of high salinity in the shells of east coast oysters and a slightly sweet melon and cucumber flavor in the smaller, more delicate west coast oysters.

A mix of both is always nice, but  as an east coaster with easy access to briny delights from local waters year-round; who buy into the fresh is  best when it comes to food (especially raw seafood) movement, I recommend sourcing oysters from local farmers and seafood shacks.

Popular east coast oysters, that are easily accessible and worth shucking at home include:

Oysters on the half shell at home
Oysters on the half shell at home
  • Wellfleet – large, meaty, clean tasting with excellent salinity
  • PEI, Malpeque– tender, the brininess and sweetness are in balance
  • Island Creek– rich, fatty meat with a buttery finish in a deep cup
  • Blue Point– medium in size with a mild ocean flavor, meaty and from in texture

Popular west coast oysters worth seeking out include:

  • Kumamoto– cucumber flavor, deep cups, small in size
  • Fanny Bay– strong cucumber flavor, meaty and firm

Serve shucked on a platter of crushed ice or alongside shucking knives and gloves (oven mitts work well) for a more casual “shuck your own” event.

The Sauces

Meeting Chef Justin Shoults
Meeting Chef Justin Shoults

Whatever oysters you choose to serve and however you choose to serve them, be sure to have a sampling of sauces on hand:

  • Tabasco: the watery nature of tabasco allows for a hint of heat without too much bulk to overwhelm the oyster’s texture
  • Lemon wedges: technically not a sauce, just a squeeze of lemon over your oyster is all you need to counterbalance the salinity of what’s in the cups
  • Cocktail sauce: “beginners” eat oysters with cocktail sauce, but those who truly enjoy the oyster prefer to eat it without as the heft of the this sauce. It’s strong flavor and dense texture can overwhelm the oyster (do not even think of putting on west coast oysters) so use sparingly.
  • Mignonette– this vinegar based sauce is easy to prepare and can be altered using various add in (herbs, type of vinegar, & flavoring agents like ginger). My favoirte, simple mignonette to make is from Ina Garten and Food Network.
  • Herbed Creme Fraiche– This is delightful on both east and west coast oysters where the mild flavor enhances the oyster; a sorel laced version I tasted at a seminar presented by Brine’s Chef, Justin Shoults at the 2015 Nantucket Wine Festival was perfect, but other herbs can easily be subbed in, just be sure to puree the herbs as to avoid a chunky sauce.


The Wine

Sampling of whites with oysters
Sampling of whites with oysters

I typically pair my oysters with a bottle of Veuve Clicquot. Luckily, when participating in the Flight of the Oyster tasting at The Nantucket Wine Festival there was an expert (Philippe Newlin) on hand to create a perfect pairing with  dry to sweet Bordeaux; changing how I look at my at home raw bar drink selection forever.

Six that worked well:

  • Sirech Les Deux Terroirs Blanc 2013, Pessac-Leognan
  • Chateau Marjosse 2013, Entre-Deux-Mers
  • Chateau Carbonnieux Blanc 2013, Pessac-Leognan
  • Chateau Cos d’Estournel Blanc 2013, Medoc
  • Hauts de Smith Blanc 2012, Pessac-Leognan
  • Chateau Suduiraut 2007, Pessac-Leognan

Pour your sips and savor the oysters finding the combination that calls to you and filling that glass to the top.

-Helping you rock the raw bar, Jess

What’s your favorite oyster pairing? Tell us via Facebook: Amazing Matriarch, Instagram: amazingamtriarch or Twitter: @AMatriarch;  Tag us on social using#amazingmatriarch



Valentine’s Day Blizzard Busts Up Big Plans in The Northeast: The at Home Date Idea That Will Save the Day

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I rarely go out on Valentine’s Day. All the hype never meets my expectations so when we moved to the burbs and had a baby, my husband started a tradition of putting the kids to bed, pouring me a glass of champagne and shucking some of my favorite east coast oysters. Together we assemble our own personal raw bar, often adding lobster tails, and we sit at our hightop bar by the wood stove laughing and relaxing.

With at least another foot of snow, and dangerous winds threatening to blanket the coastal northeast this weekend there’ll be a lot of disappointed diners skipping out on their special Valentine’s Day reservations. If you’re opting to hunker down instead of heading out, steal my go-to, stay home Valentine’s Day date.

Aphrodisiacs at home-Oysters and Champagne:

Treat your someone special to a bottle of champagne and a platter of raw oysters.  My $50 favorite is Vueve Clicquot, but if that’s a little too steep pick a Prosecco. The Italian version of this bubbly treat tends to be delicious for under $20 a bottle. A fan favorite is the Mionetto Prosecco Brut.

An at home oyster shucking party will give you a lot of giggles with great rewards. And believe it or not, oysters are quite easy to shuck-if you have the proper tools. A reinforced, washable oven mitt makes a great oyster shucking glove. But you should spring for a pair of oyster knives, for $8.99 each these can be found at stores like Bed Bath and Beyond.  

If you’re in the Boston area, where the restaurant industry is hurting from the snowfall, stop into one of Legal Sea Foods fish markets (Legal’s has postponed their Valentine’s Day menu until March 6-8 on account of the crazy snow already in the city) or call around and see if seafood specialists like Island Creek, or Row 34  have oysters you can buy. If you’d prefer to go to a fish market not affiliated with a restaurant, James Hook & Co. always has a stellar selection of seafood.

Mix up a variety of dips like cocktail sauce and mignonette, buy a bottle of tabasco and horseradish then slice up some lemons and arrange alongside your freshly shucked platter of oysters on ice.

-Busting this blizzard one home date idea at a time, XO Jess

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