Why Sauvignon Blanc and Seafood Make a Perfect Pair.
Sauvignon Blanc is a versatile, dry white wine that complements many seafood dishes. The flavors of this green-skinned grape variety can range from bright citrus to tropical fruit, and also feature herbal notes, which come from aromatic compounds called pyrazines. The ripeness of the grape when the wine is made dictates the flavor and intensity of the fruit and herbal flavors, thereby defining the taste.
Since climate dictates ripeness, Sauvignon Blanc can be divided into two categories: cool climate and warm climate. Ironically, warm-climate Sauvignon Blanc pairs best with cold seafood dishes, and cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc pairs best with warm dishes!
Cooler climates bring out bright citrus fruit and herbal flavors.
Excellent cool-climate selections of Sauvignon Blanc come from Oregon, New Zealand and France, with wines from Oregon and New Zealand having a bit more citrus flavor than the French versions. Paired with local shrimp, crabs or oysters steamed and served with butter, these wines will act like a spritz of lemon between bites. Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre are two of the most popular French Sauvignon Blanc wines. They have more herbal flavors and muted fruit flavors, which make an excellent companion to pan-seared or nut-crusted white fish such as grouper.
Warmer climates bring out fruit flavors, from peach to tropical fruit, and tame the herbal notes. Still crisp and refreshing, these flavors provide the perfect partner for chilled seafood dishes, especially during the summer heat. California Sauvignon Blanc, notably from the Sonoma Valley, pairs perfectly at the raw bar. It goes well with steamed and chilled local shrimp or crab, because the flavors won’t overpower the subtle sweetness of these dishes. Argentinian and Chilean versions pair well with creamy seafood salad, tuna, shrimp or crab. Australian Sauvignon Blanc has all of the flavors of a high-end cold Japanese Sake, without the added price, which makes it the perfect mate for Sashimi or other cold Asian seafood dishes.
Just in case you aren’t convinced, I’ll leave you with one final reason to get behind this wine.
While all alcoholic beverages contain carbs, dry wines can be enjoyed in moderation. Many classic seafood and wine pairings are low-carb. Skip the breaded and fried selections. Pair this dry wine with a clean, fresh dish. The simpler the preparation, the more you can savor the subtle flavors in both the seafood and the wine.
Fortunately, there is a mind-boggling variety of Sauvignon Blancs to choose from! Whether you prepare meals or looking to take-out, you can enjoy local flavors paired with the perfect wine, guilt-free. Cheers!
By Georgene Mortimer, Island Winery, Hilton Head Island. www.islandwinery.com.