Clams, shrimp, oysters, crabs, or lobster are among the most popular and appreciated seafood. Portugal, bathed by the cold waters of the Atlantic, is a paradise for countless specimens. This intrinsic maritime connection explains the extensive list of sea dishes that are part of its gastronomy.
Traditionally, to accompany these delicacies, white wines with some acidity and sparkling wines are chosen. They are an excellent pairing with the rich flavours of these crustaceans. If you prefer red wine, know that this relationship is not impossible, but the choice will have to be careful so that the wine does not overpower the delicate flavours of the dish. In this case, you should opt for a red wine with few tannins to avoid the metallic taste in the mouth. Shellfish is a protein that contains iodine which, in contact with tannins (mainly present in red wine) and with saliva proteins, give a metallic and unpleasant taste.
For the choice of wine to highlight the salinity, delicacy and specific flavours of each shellfish, you should always consider its texture, cooking method, simplicity of the dish and sauces used.
Here are some tips and suggestions for you to enjoy, but above all, we encourage you to try different combinations until you find the one that best suits your palate. As far as harmonization is concerned, nothing is absolute and, the watchword is: it depends.
To enhance the freshness and delicacy of the shellfish consumed raw, we should choose a fresh and light white wine or, for a more refined combination, a young and fruity sparkling wine served chilled. Try raw oysters with a brut nature sparkling wine or a lemon-flavoured scallop ceviche with a Sauvignon Blanc whose balanced acidity goes very well with seafood. The versatility, freshness, aromatic exuberance and minerality of dry Riesling is perfect with these dishes. It helps to balance the salinity and iodized flavours of these bivalves.
The simplicity of these dishes enhances the delicate, sweet and salty flavours of these products. As with raw shellfish, they go well with sparkling wine, a light and fresh white wine or fine and elegant rosé wine. If serving with a type of mayonnaise, always pay attention to the seasonings used. We challenge you to try a Terrantez from Pico (Azores) with a stuffed brown crab (filled with a creamy paté with its meat, mayonnaise, and condiments), and an Arinto, also from the Azores, to accompany some barnacles or boiled prawns. The vibrant acidity and natural salinity of these unique wines will be the perfect combination.
Refined and complex sparkling wines or firm full-bodied white wines are good partners with grilled prawns and scarlet prawns or grilled spiny lobster and lobster. These crustaceans have a large percentage of meat and need a more structured wine. A fresh and complex Alvarinho from the Vinho Verde region is a wine that goes very well. A Chablis from the Burgundy region is another good choice for these high-quality products.
Sauted clams, mussels or cockles are some of the most popular shellfish dishes. Velvety and fruity whites are an excellent partner to balance the iodized flavours of these bivalves. Try a Loureiro from the Vinho Verde region. Fresh, crunchy, citrusy and floral balances the tastes of these dishes where lemon and coriander flavours prevail. A velvety and perfumed Fernão Pires from the Lisbon region is another good harmonizing experience.
Fried crustaceans or tempuras
The bubbles and freshness of sparkling wine are the perfect combinations to cut the fat and clean the palate, leaving the mouth feeling fresh. If you don't like sparkling wines, try a wine from the Vinho Verde region. Produced with varieties such as Alvarinho, Arinto, Avesso, Azal, Loureiro and Trajadura, they are aromatic, clear and refreshing.
Selfish with butter sauces
Often shrimps and lobster are cooked with butter sauces. A firm, complex white wine or a full-bodied rosé is a good choice. Try an Encruzado staged in barrels from the Dão region. Its structure and complexity will enhance the creaminess of these dishes.
Shellfishe with spicy sauces
For seafood with spices and spicier or pepperier sauces, the best choice is the more floral and sweeter wines with a low alcohol content to counterbalance the heat. Try a sweet Riesling or a Gewürztraminer to balance with the most explosive flavours of the dish.
We finish with a suggestion of four wines to pair: sparkling wine and an Alvarinho wine from the Bairrada region, a Sauvignon Blanc from the Lisbon region and a dry Riesling from Alsace. But there are many options, so if you have doubts, we help you to choose. It will make all the difference and will value your choice.
Joaquim Arnaud Sparkling Super Reserve Brut Nature 2015
This sparkling wine is produced from the tear musts of the Alvarinho and Trajadura varieties. The fermentation and long aging in bottle (36 months), complete the process that combines the maximum expression of the two grape varieties, resulting in an elegant, fresh, vibrant and very gastronomic sparkling wine. It has a fine and persistent bubble, an elegant and complex aroma. Full-bodied, dry, good acidity, fresh, crunchy and creamy with a lingering finish.
Valados de Melgaço Alvarinho Reserve 2018
These wine have a distinct personality that can only be achieved in the unique terroir of the Vinho Verde region. Citrine of colour, with light tones of yellow and revealing a complex aroma showing notes of peach and qpricot with just a hint of floral and tropical citrus. An engaging and full-bodied wine with balanced acidity.
Quinta Várzea da Pedra Sauvignon Blanc 2019
Citrus-coloured wine with strong mineral & green pepper aromas, typical of the grape variety and the Atlantic influence. Very fresh, complex and intense in the mouth, with a very persistent finish.
Marc Kreydenweiss Andlau Riesling 2018
A dry wine that expresses the uniqueness of the Rieslings from Alsace, with aromas of citrus zest and exotic fruits, offering a fine and delicate palate with good minerality and noble bitters.