Shellfish and wine combinations

Shellfish offers anyone the chance to impress at the dinner table, and although some people are reluctant to tackle molluscs they can be relatively easy to cook.

If you're looking to impress, then why not opt for scallops. While they can be fairly expensive, they possess a delicate taste and are considered something of a delicacy.
 
The main rule with pairing wine and shellfish is to stick to white wines and delicate Italian varietals such as Pinot Grigio or Soave work well alongside crustacean and seafood.
 
Because scallops have quite a buttery taste to them some people think that an oaked Chardonnay with its vanilla scent and creaminess offers the perfect match.
 
Others believe that a contrast works better and that you need something more acidic to cut through the buttery flavour. This is where Champagne comes in. If you're looking for a cheaper alternative, a sparkling dry white will work just as well though.
 
Crab is another great shellfish dish that is worth a try, although how you prepare it definitely influences the wine that you choose to drink with it.
 
If, for instance, you use crab to make fishcakes you will need to take into account the way that the food is fried.
 
Because of the frying, it is best to contrast the oil with a crisp white such as Chablis. An oaked Chardonnay would probably be too much for this dish so best to steer clear in this instance.
 
Again if you're serving dressed crab, you want the taste of the fish to shine through so Chablis will work here too.
 
When it's paired with stronger flavours, such as in crab bisque, you can crack open a bottle of oaked Chardonnay. The buttery notes will work well alongside the cream in the bisque.
 
If you think crab may be too much for your guests and you believe they'll prefer something they can really dig into then why not serve a bowl of mussels and make a marinieres sauce to go with it.
 
This classic combination is bound to go down well and there is something deeply satisfying about a bowl of food that you can get stuck into with your hands, just don't forget the finger bowls.
 
Because it is made using a dry white, then you should stick to serving the same wine with the meal. A Muscadet will work well.
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Top food & wine matching tips from the What Food What Wine? team