Summertime is well underway and few dishes are more synonymous with the season than surf and turf. Transcending time and time zones, this classic course dishes out more flavors on one plate than most meals offer from start to finish. However, one dilemma still remains: how does one pair wine with two different proteins?
Surf (lobster, crab, etc.) works best with a rich white, like a big Chardonnay, and turf (beef) calls for a dry red, like a Cab or Merlot, which makes it impossible to suggest a wine that would pair “perfectly” with both. Fortunately, there are three ways to approach the age-old wine dilemma: Red, white or, for the adventurous, both.
Use caution when selecting a red wine. Due to the inherently bold nature of most reds, they tend to drown out some flavors of the seafood. It’s also important to note that red wines with high tannins clash with most seafood, producing an unpleasant taste. We suggest choosing something with low tannin levels to balance both proteins such as a Pinot Noir. The red fruit tones found in the wine provide robust flavors for the red meat, while the light body and fresh acidity complement the seafood.
White wines have a harder time bridging the gap between seafood and red meat, but that doesn’t mean they can’t deliciously coexist. Rich, layered white wines with a bright, fresh acidity tend to cut through the fat of a steak while also complementing the freshness of the seafood. We recommend an Extra Brut Champagne that will lift the richness of the palate and refresh the senses.
That’s right: both. Your food doesn’t dictate how you live your life. The caveat? You must follow the natural progression from white to red. It is not uncommon to pair a white wine with the seafood to start, then progress to a bolder red when you make your way to the steak. We recommend a full-bodied wine to start, such as a California Chardonnay, followed by a red rich in structure, such as a Bordeaux. Both wines complement their food counterparts and provide a smooth transition between delicacies.
All in all, the best advice we can give is to decide which wine you prefer and enjoy it to the fullest potential of its flavor profile. Sure, it may not pair perfectly with both land and sea, but it’s sure to be sipped slowly, and enjoyed completely.
What is your favorite wine to pair with surf and turf? Share your go-to bottle in the comments.