The holiday season is upon us and we start to think about enjoying time with family and friends. Assuming we can do this safely over our second COVID season, what kinds of foods do you like to serve? I prefer rich foods, like lobster. No dieting allowed. You can of course boil a lobster, or cook it in dish with sauce to make it that little bit more special. But you may not know is what wine to serve with your lobster. You don’t want a wine that will overpower your lobster dish.
I have two recipes for you to make serving lobster a little more special, courtesy of LobsterAnywhere. Plus some suggested wines which I think you can purchase either in the USA or in Canada, as I have readers from both sides of the border.
Lobster Dishes and Recommended Wine Pairings
A lobster’s taste depends on how it is cooked. If it is simply boiled in saltwater, you get some of the saltiness of the water, plus the sweetness and texture of the lobster meat. The meat is firmer than that of other seafood like crab. The traditional way to serve boiled lobster is with melted butter, which brings out the flavour of the lobster more and makes the lobster a bit more creamy tasting for me. This is the lightest cooking method for the lobster and you want to keep its flavour in the forefront, not overwhelmed by a wine that is too big. An unoaked, or very lightly oaked Chardonnay would fit the bill. Sauvignon Blanc would also work well.
The Hess Collection Hess Select Chardonnay 2017 (or younger vintage), California – Ripe stone fruit nose. Medium-plus body and medium acidity. Stone fruit and juicy tropical fruit flavours, along with vanilla and butterscotch later on.
Stags’ Leap Winery Napa Valley Chardonnay 2016 (or younger vintage), California– Light stone fruit nose. Medium body with a silky mouthfeel. Baked apple and pear, plus sweet spices on the palate.
St. Supery Estate Vineyards and Winery Napa Valley Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2017 (or younger vintage), California – Light green melon nose. Dry and round, with flinty, gooseberry and green fruit flavours. Not too acidic. Nice.
Viña Chocalán Gran Reserva Origen Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Chile – has a bright medium-intensity lemon colour. A pronounced nose with primarily asparagus and a touch of gooseberry aromas. Dry, light-body, linear with medium-plus acidity. Tons of asparagus on the palate, plus a touch of honey and jalapeno pepper. Crisp and fresh flavours. There was also a salty note present for this coastal wine. Medium length.
Cono Sur Organic Chardonnay from Chile is unoaked and always at a value price.
If you are adventurous, you can pair boiled lobster with Manzanilla sherry. This type of sherry is dry, has saline notes and almonds with a fresh, zesty liveliness. It would make a complementary pairing to the lobster. Hildago La Gitana Manzanilla Sherry is quite readily found on both sides of the Canada-USA border.
With A Sauce
When you cook a lobster in a dish with sauce, it can be the sauce that helps direct you to the type of wine you would like to have with the dish. A cream sauce being a bit heavier will need a wine with a bit more acidity, like a cooler climate Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, or Riesling for white wines. Dry sparkling wines will also make an excellent pairing. If you want to match the richness of the sauce, say a cream or butter-based sauce, you could select an oaked Chardonnay. I am not one for very heavily oaked Chardonnays as I like to taste the wine more than the oak barrel components, but a touch of oak can be like seasoning on a dish to help bring out the dish’s flavours. Red wines are still possible but stay away from big tannic wines, like Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz. Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Sangiovese red wines would fit the bill. They are not too heavy, have good acidity and lower tannins. Tannins tend to clash with seafood, sometimes causing a metallic taste in your mouth. Rosé wines are the best of both worlds. You get fresh crisp fruit flavours and acidity similar to the white wines, plus a bit of structure from the light tannins of the red grape.
Joel Gott Chardonnay 2015 (or younger vintage), California – A mix of asparagus, citrus and honey. Medium-plus body, silky with medium acidity. Herbaceous and citrus on the palate. Light and elegant.
Trefethen Family Vineyards Dry Riesling 2017, (or younger vintage), California– Lime and stone fruit aromas. Off-dry with an acidic prickle on your tongue. Lemon and lime flavours, along with a mineral streak. Tasty.
Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2015 (or younger vintage), California – a sparkling wine made from Chardonnay grapes. It has a mix of lees and stonefruits on the nose. Very high acidity, but off-dry. Medium-bodied. Crab apples, and some floral. A crisp wine. Medium-sized bubble.
Viña Chocalán Gran Reserva Origen Chardonnay 2019, Chile – This wine had 40% aged in French oak barrels with lees contact for 6 months, and 10% of the wine went through malolactic fermentation. This wine is deep golden with an amber tint. A light intensity nose with tropical fruit, butterscotch and touches of honey and white flowers. A medium-plus body, smooth and round. Medium intensity tropical fruits and butterscotch flavours, and a touch of oak. Some minerality. Medium-plus acidity keeps with the fresh. Medium length finishing with some pepperiness. I would like to have the finish a little longer. Depth with class.
Francois Martenot Petit Chablis 2018, France – Pale lemon colour. Light stonefruit nose. Medium-plus body with a silky mouthfeel. Stone fruit, apples and honey flavours.
Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2017 (or younger vintage), South Africa – Again going for ripe fruit, the grapes for this wine are picked 10 days apart, with the grapes on the sunny side of the vine picked first and the shaded grapes days later. There is no malolactic fermentation on this wine. It has a light intensity nose of deep, ripe pears and apples. Medium body, round with medium acidity. Flavours of pears and apples, with a hint of oak. Medium length
La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2016, (or younger vintage), California – Light red fruit and smoky bramble nose. Dry, lighter body with medium tannins. Mineral, tea leaves and red fruit flavours.
Silver Oak Cellars Twomey Cellars Russian River Pinot Noir 2016, (or younger vintage), California – Nice floral and red fruit nose. Dry, medium body with fine tannins. Tea leaves, floral, and sweet red fruit flavours.
Schug Carneros Pinot Noir 2015 (or younger vintage), California – Schug makes one of my favourite Pinots in California. This vintage is no exception. The wine has a riper, red fruit nose. Dry, higher acidity with flavours of raspberries and other red fruits, along with some oak and sweet spices. Softer tannins. Top-quality.
Domaine Drouhin Oregon Cloudline Pinot Noir 2019, Oregon – Medium intensity translucent garnet. Red fruits, cranberries, earthiness and light red cherry aromas. Light body, dry and semi-round. Herbaceous, dill, red fruit flavours. Tart cherries and some bitterness on the finish together with a touch of floral. Medium intensity oak and fine light-grained tannins. An elegant wine.
Louis Jadot Beaujolais Villages 2018, France – Made with the Gamay grape. A light raspberry nose. It is dry, light-body, with fine tannins. Floral, red cherries and red fruit flavours.
Chateau Pesquie Terrasses AOC Ventoux Rosé 2018, France – This wine has a light intensity strawberry and tropical fruit nose. Medium-plus body with light acidity. A nice smooth mouthfeel. Light spices, red and tropical fruit flavours.
Gustave Lorentz Cremant d’Alsace Brut, NV, France ($28.99) – a sparkling wine from Alsace. Made from Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes. This wine has a nice biscuity, citrus and bruised apple nose. Red apples jump out on touching your palate, together with red cherries. Creamy medium bubble. Off-dry but balanced with high acidity.
If you grill a lobster you can add some smokiness and char to the sweet flavour of the lobster meat. This can give you wider options for wine pairings, particularly red wines.
Any oaked Chardonnay that I mentioned above should work with grilled lobster. If you cannot find one that I mentioned, pick one from California. There is a wide selection. Also, an off-dry sparkling wine should work well with the smoke and char from the grill. Italian Prosecco that is Brut or Extra Dry would work. Bisol, Zonin, and Bottega are three widely available Prosecco brands.
Ricasoli Brolio Chianti Classico DOCG 2017, Italy – You get aromas of red fruits, cedar, plum, red cherries, a hint of sweet spices, and with some swirling a floral component at different times as you nose this wine. It is dry with a medium-plus body; round and smooth with medium acidity and a fine tannic backbone. Red fruits, red cherries, plums, raspberries and floral flavours, along with a hint of toast and oak. The fruit flavours in the wine work together harmoniously.
Cono Sur Pinot Noir Organic 2020, Chile – Deeper garnet with a ruby tint. Medium intensity aromas with darker fruits and sweet spices. Dryish, with a thicker round soft mouthfeel. Lower acidity. Floral, raspberries and dark fruit flavours. A lightly dry finish with black cherries and a touch of sweetness.
Two Lobster Recipes from LobsterAnywhere
In case you need some help cooking your lobster, here are two recipes from LobsterAnywhere.
Grilled Lobster with Lemon Butter
2 Wild Caught live lobsters, 1 1/2 lb. or 2 lb. each
1/4 cup butter
2 tbsp. Lemon juice
1 tbsp. finely shredded lemon peel
2 tsp. chopped tarragon
2 tsp. chopped chives
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
Kill live lobster. You may do so in whatever fashion you please, I personally use the method of taking a sharp knife, and inserting it into the back of the lobster’s head, between the eyes. (If squeamish about the knife into the lobster head, an alternative you may use is bringing enough water to cover the lobster to a boil, and placing the lobsters in head first and boiling for 2 minutes)
Next use kitchen shears to make 2 cuts lengthwise and 2 cuts across the lobsters on the underside of the tail. Remove thin membrane. Cut lengthwise through flesh of each tail, but not through the back shell. Open Tails, exposing meat. Use the knife to scrape out black vein that runs length of lobster. Remove and discard body cavity organs that are near head. Rinse under cold water. Pat dry.
Lightly coat grill rack with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat grill to medium, and prepare for indirect cooking.
In a small saucepan cook and stir butter, lemon juice, peel, tarragon, and chives over low heat until butter is melted.
Place lobsters, shell-side down on the grill rack. Brush generously with some butter mixture. Grill covered for 15-18 minutes or until lobster meat is nearly opaque, brushing twice with mixture. Do not turn lobsters. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and drizzle with remaining butter mixture. Cover and grill 6-8 more or until lobster meat is opaque. Do not overcook.
Maine’s Best Lobster Mac and Cheese
Here’s our recipe for lobster mac and cheese. Again, feel free to experiment and make substitutions. And if your feeling crabby you can even substitute cooked lump crab meat for the lobster.
1 lb. of blanched or raw lobster meat (substitute frozen lobster meat)
5 cups of cooked Cavatappi Pasta
2 1/2 cups Milk
1 cup Fontina Cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Mascarpone Cheese
3 tbsp. brandy
1 whole shallot finely chopped
2 whole cloves garlic minced
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 whole dry bay leaf
fresh ground cayenne pepper to taste
to taste sea salt
to taste black pepper
Optional Crust Toppings:
Crushed croutons, or make your own from leftover bread.
Panko crumbs for a crunchy topping.
Italian Bread crumbs is another option
Crush up Ritz Crackers for an extra buttery topping.
Option for Bacon Lovers:
Crumble cooked bacon and mix in with your mac and cheese.
Pasta pot, Tongs, Chefs knife, Cutting board, Colander, Measuring cup, Whisk, Fine Strainer, Sauce Pan, Box grater.
Instructions for How to Make Lobster Mac and Cheese
Makes about 6-8 portions
Bring salted water to a boil. Cook pasta 2-3 minutes less than what the directions state (before al dente). Use tongs to agitate the pasta a couple times to prevent sticking.
Pour pasta into colander and shock with cold water until cool. Drain and set aside.
Bring milk, bay leaf and garlic to a gentle simmer.
Remove from pan and allow flavors to infuse for 15 minutes.
Melt butter in a saucepan and add shallots. Saute until shallots are translucent and the sauce has thickened.
Incorporate flour with a whisk. Cook at low temperature until flour is golden in color. Add brandy.
Slowly whisk milk into flour mixture until fully incorporated.
Cook for 10-15 minutes on low heat, whisking often, until sauce has thickened.
Add cayenne and black pepper (Note: wait until the end to add salt, lobster will add lots of flavor).
Add lobster and cook in sauce until lobster is close to desired texture.
Finally add cheese and then add the cooked pasta and stir to combine.
Preheat oven to 375°F
Butter an oven safe baking dish or coat with nonstick cooking spray.
Pour mac n’ cheese into dish and top with your favorite crumb topping. (At this time you can cover your dish and refrigerate for 1-2 days and bake later.)
Add your mac n’ cheese to a buttered baking dish. Bake uncovered at 375 for about 20 minutes or until bubbly and the top is toasted.
Cool for 10 minutes before digging in!
You should now have a great idea of how you would like to cook your lobster and which wines you would like to serve with your lobster dishes. If you are in the USA you can order Maine lobsters from LobsterAnywhere. I would love feedback on your lobster and wine pairing. Please post your comments below. Enjoy the holidays!