5 wine and seafood pairings to celebrate the end of summer

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In the summer, I crave seafood. After a long day in the Mile High City sun, there’s nothing more satisfying at dusk than a platter of fresh fish or shellfish and a glass of wine. As a professional sommelier, I offer advice on the best wines to accompany dishes at local events and restaurants. When I’m in the field, questions about which glasses and bottles to pair with seafood are some of the most common I get. Making selections for coastal dishes can be tricky as the flavors, textures, and preparations of shellfish, fish, and other catches vary widely. There are many misconceptions, for example, that seafood should only be accompanied by white wine, but we’re here to help. To inspire you, we’ve rounded up five seafood and wine pairings to order in and around Denver, along with some tips for arranging your own pairings at home.

Note: Menu items and prices are subject to change, but there are always tasty seafood dishes to pair with well-crafted wines at the restaurants below.

Spanish Octopus and Albariño at Blue Island Oyster Bar & Seafood

Cherry Creek’s Seven-Year-Old Blue Island Oyster Bar opened a second location at Lone Tree earlier this year with the same New England-inspired decor and a large selection of fresh oysters. But what caught my eye on the menu was the grilled Spanish octopus with chorizo ​​dressing and crispy potato ($17), and one of the best ways to savor this tender delicacy is with a glass of Castro Martin A20 Albariño ($14), which has origins in Spain.

Tasting notes: Albariño (derived from the Latin word “albus” for white) is a wine grape variety mainly planted in the northwest Spain and Portugal with clean and intensely fresh characteristics. It is ripe and aromatic, with hints of yellow peach and melon; the well-rounded wine has a long, mellow and honeyed finish that is ideal to accompany octopus.

Caviar and Cava at Stoic & Genuine

Stoic and authentic, a modern seafood house in Union Station from James Beard Award-winning chef Jennifer Jasinski and business partner Beth Gruitch, features a raw bar and impressive wine list. If you want to treat yourself, order the Champagne duo (from $65) – sparkling wine flavored Torres potato chips with caviar, creme fraiche, chopped onion and chives – with a sparkling wine like Barcino Cava (11 $). The experience of caviar bursting in your mouth isn’t too different from the texture created by sipping champagne bubbles, which makes it a great match.

Tasting notes: Cava is a sparkling wine from the Spanish region of Peñedes that has fine bubbles and is produced using the same method as French champagne. Barcino is made by one of the largest vineyard owners in Peñedes, which has a distinctive clean and fresh style with citrus notes. This blend of three grape varieties (Xarello, Macabeo and Parellada) has flavors of brioche and white grapefruit, a beautiful expression of Cava.

Picpoul de Pinet and Clams at the Maine Shack

Maine cabin in LoHi is a fast-casual New England-style restaurant offering seafood specialties including lobster rolls and clams. We chose the Maine or Ipswich Steamah clams (from $9 or $15 for a half pound, respectively), which have a softer outer shell than the other varieties. To eat one, open the shell and remove the cooked clam. Use your fingers to peel back and discard the skin covering the clam’s siphon, a “foot” sticking out from the side of the shell. Grasp the siphon with your fingers, swirl the clam in the hot broth, then dip it in melted butter and enjoy. Complement the flavors with a glass of La Petite Frog ($7), a white wine made from French Picpoul grapes.

Tasting notes: The Little Frog has a pale yellow color with a hint of green. The grapes are planted in the Picpoul de Pinet, a coastal wine region in the south of France. It has a fragrant nose with hints of lime peel and pineapple peel. The name Picpoul translates to “prick the lip” in French and refers to the grape’s tantalizing high acidity. The wine is excellent with any member of the shellfish family.

Oysters and Whole Fish with Rosé at Green Valley Ranch Smokehouse and Oyster Bar

You don’t have to be a member of the Green Valley Ranch Golf Club in northeast Denver to eat at his new restaurant, a spacious indoor-outdoor barbecue smokehouse and oyster bar that opened in May. The day I visited, the restaurant was offering sweet and briny oysters (from $15 for six) sourced from Rappahannock, Va., and served raw or grilled with garlic, parsley, and Parmesan cheese. I went for the oysters, but the fried whole snapper ($35) caught my attention. Perfectly seared and fried, the dish is served with two sides; I chose macaroni and cheese and collard greens. The fruity flavors of Daou Vineyards Discovery Rosé on the menu pair best with collard greens, snapper and grilled oysters.

Tasting notes: Produced in Paso Robles, California, Daou Vineyards Discovery Rosé is inspired by the wines of Provence, France. The rosé is remarkably fragrant, offering aromas of Bartlett pear, nectarine and hints of flowers. The palate is clean, with a crisp freshness with flavors of mango, melon and Meyer lemon.

Cod with Aligoté at Mercantile Dining and Provision

Led by James Beard Award-winning Chef Alex Seidel and Executive Chef Alex Astranti, the dishes at Commercial catering and supply Inside Union Station, you’ll discover the generosity of local farmers and vendors, and they’re accompanied by an impressive drinks list curated by Wine Director Sian Ferguson and Senior Sommelier Katie Nielsen. Although this is not a restaurant focused on seafood, the delicious dish of parsley-crusted cod with caviar beurre blanc ($32), Esoterra Culinary Garden the spinach, shallots, coconut, orange and jalapeño are worth ordering. Get the dish with a glass of Aligoté, which is made primarily in Burgundy and is generally drier than other whites with floral and citrus notes.

Tasting notes: The Aligoté grape is often used in blends, and the wine is beautifully aromatic and mineral. Bourgogne Aligoté from winemaker Patrick Piuze ($13) has a streak of acidity that is a signature of the brand. There are aromas of green apple, pear, white flowers and wet stones. Parsley and caviar white butter also enhance the minerality of this wine, a perfect combination.

3 seafood and wine pairing tips

  1. Consider the weight and texture of the fish. A light and delicate fish like sole or perch calls for a lighter style like Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. In contrast, heartier fillets like salmon or tuna pair best with a wine that is fuller-bodied and has complex flavors like chardonnay, burgundy, and even pinot noir.
  2. The way dishes like shrimp, scallops, and other shellfish are cooked will help narrow down your choice of wine, as well as the other ingredients featured in the dish such as sauce or seasonings. I try to pair shellfish dishes and wines with similar flavor characteristics and styles.
  3. If caviar and/or molluscs are on the menu and you have any doubts, drink bubbles!

Read: A black sommelier’s perspective on the Denver wine business

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