I grew up in New England spending part of my summer vacation on the Atlantic coast each year. Whether we traveled to Maine or to Cape Cod, each summer there were multiple occasions when a load of fresh lobsters were boiled with sweet corn-on-the-cob and heartily enjoyed by family and friends. I pride myself on getting every morsel of sweet-salty meat out of those glorious crustaceans, a skill that was well honed in childhood.
Summer isn’t summer without at least one big lobster feast.
Now that I’m all grown up, I’ve learned the art of pairing lobster and wine! What could be better than a summer wine party starring lobster as the main course. Now that I live in New York City, lobster isn’t quite as easy to come by and not nearly as inexpensive as it is on the coast in Northern New England, but lucky for me, both aunt and my brother-in-law live in Maine and have helped to quell my cravings for fresh lobster in recent years. If you don’t have a personal connection to bring lobster to you, you can have live lobsters sent to your door. Check out this link for more information.
Before your lobsters arrive, you’ll want to have a plan for boiling a large quantity. My family has devised a driveway set up with large boiling pots and small propane tanks for fuel. This isn’t always an option in the city, however, I’ve found some markets that will steam them for no additional cost. Having an outdoor dining table set up will help to keep the mess out of your home once the lobsters are done cooking and you are ready to eat. Keep the side dishes simple: corn-on-the-cob, potato salad and a green salad are perfect accompaniments. For dessert, strawberry shortcake or fresh berries with whipped cream finishes the experience on a lovely note.
To make this event a real summer wine party, choose four summer wines that will pair beautifully with lobster. First and foremost, well-chilled, refreshing Rosé wine is a must. One of my favorite rosés of the moment is Chateau Miraval from Provence. The Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie & Perrin Family endeavor is well worth the $20 price point. Impressive not only for its movie star owners but also for the winemaking Perrin family, from one of the Southern Rhone’s most prestigious estates: Chateau de Beaucastel of Chateauneauf du Pape fame! Chateau Miraval has more than celebrity cache; it is a delicious, high quality wine that has the weight to stand up to meaty lobster.
Over the July 4th holiday, we tried the 2013 Foucher-Lebrun Sancerre Le Mont with our lobster. We found that the wine’s freshness, salinity and minerality provided a nice compliment for the lobster’s sweet-salt flavor.
Chardonnay is the classic pairing for lobster and for good reason. Both old world and new world styles offer more richness and body than other white wines; the creamy flavors and sweet fruit of a good Chardonnay are delicious with lobster meat. If you select a Chardonnay from California, choose one with some restraint so that it doesn’t overpower the flavor of the shellfish.
Finally, you can’t go wrong with some bubbly. You can serve this toward the end of the meal to refresh your guest’s palates. It also pairs with everything on their plates. Champagne is incredibly food friendly and works well with just about everything you can think of, so why not lobster?
Keeping your wines at optimum serving temperature can be a challenge in the summer. Make sure that you put your Champagne, rosé, and white wines in the refrigerator to chill the night before. White and rosé wines are best served at around 52 degrees F, keeping reds at about 65 degrees F. Champagne and other bubbly wines deliver their optimum sparkle at 45 degrees F.
Ensure there will be enough wine on hand by calculating the number of bottles ahead of time. Depending on your crowd, you’ll want at least a half bottle per person. If you will have under-age or teetotaling guests in attendance, consider a carafe of equal parts club soda and lemonade, as a refreshing non-alcoholic alternative.
Now you are ready to throw a summer wine party with lobster!