oyster wine

Oyster Wine

woman on wine with amy reiley

This spring I was invited to judge the annual Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition. Not a weird, underground assemblage of foodies making wine from fermented oyster liquor as the name might imply, the Oyster Wine Competition is a search to find those wines from the Pacific states best suited to serve with oysters on the half shell on a hot, summer day. Surprisingly, many of the winners were the simpler, less-expensive entrants. A general rule of thumb seems to be, the less complex the wine, the more the oyster will shine.

Here are a few of this year’s highlights, according to my aphrodisiac-soaked palate:

oyster wineSweet Cheeks
2008 Pinot Gris
Oregon
The wines are tasted blind at the judging, but had I known the name, I certainly would have given this wine bonus points on name alone! The wine, however, didn’t really need much help to come in near the top of the heap with its hint of sweetness and citrus offsetting the oyster’s briny finish.

Hogue Cellars
2008 Pinot Grigio
Washington
Hogue has always been one of my favorite American wineries for inexpensive, refreshing whites, so it was no surprise to me that a Hogue wine shone in this style of competition. A sweet and sweaty quality in both wine and shellfish makes the pairing nearly perfect partners.

Rutherford Ranch
2008 Sauvignon Blanc
California
The textural match is what makes this pair really work for me. The slickness of the wine in combination with that oily flesh of the oyster slides across the tongue in beautiful harmony. Although this was not my favorite pairing in flavor, for mouthfeel alone it wins a big stamp of approval.

Covey Run
2008 Pinot Grigio
Washington
This wine and oyster combo is almost the polar opposite of the Rutherford Ranch experience. Here, the wine’s deliciously acidic, zinging texture provides a perfect contrast to the oyster’s sensuality. In flavor the two harmonize, leaving a lingering citrus and salty taste on the tongue.

Simi
2008 Sauvignon Blanc
California
This wine did not end up a competition winner, but it was still a winner in my book. The wine’s austerity provides a stage for the voluptuous oyster. Perhaps it was not on the winner’s podium because the wine hovers in the background, but how many wines are there that know enough to step back and let a perfect little shellfish shine?

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