You’re invited to an elegant dinner and the appetizer is a delicious tray of oysters laying on a bed of crushed ice, accompanied none other than a glass of bubbly champagne. It looks scrumptious, now it’s time to taste! Oh, no… a total disappointment. Don’t worry, it’s not you who doesn’t understand the basics of refined cuisine… it’s your host!
True connoisseurs will tell you that contrary to the popular trend of pairing oysters with champagne, these two don’t go well together. No, this is not an attack on fancy dinners and it’s not snobbery either. It’s simply time to tell it like it is – from a culinary point of view, oysters and champagne do not pair well together. It’s a matter of chemistry, not taste. In most cases, the taste left on the palate after eating oysters (a zinc-like taste), contrasts with the acidity of champagne which is rich in carbon dioxide. When champagne is paired with a strong flavor, such as shellfish, the result is a metallic taste on the palate.
The proper wine pairing for something as strong as osysters is a Muscadet. Now we’re staying within France with this one, and there is good reason as oysters come from the area as well. The Muscadet is a fruity wine which has hints of bread and butter. Combined with a salty shellfish, this is an excellent pairing. Of course, a Muscadet is not as renowned as a champagne, and it is a wine that can often be found in a kitchen cabinet, but it is nonetheless a good pairing.
Serving a Muscadet with oysters may seem like a breaking away from the tradition that is oysters and champagne, a protest to the poetry of the original pairing that we are so fond of but in all frankness, most fairytales begin with two complete opposites who eventually fall in love with each other and Muscadet and oysters is no exception to that!