Author: Simone Zeni
“White wine goes with fish.” How many times have you heard this phrase? In recent years, this rule has been challenged by a few sommeliers who have found a handful of red wines that, surprisingly, pair well with seafood.
We asked two experts: Mario Buia and Virginia Stifani who, among other things, are husband and wife, and are the expert sommeliers at Al Porto Ristorante Cruderia in Cervia, a coastal town along the Eastern coast of Italy (in the state of Romagna). The restaurant’s chef Santi Ruud specializes in “filleting” raw fish and preparing a variety of crustaceans and mollusks.
Let’s discover the wine pairings Mario and Virginia suggest for summertime favorites like oysters, red shrimp, prawns, and sea urchins.
Wine and Raw Fish: The Pairings
Mario: “For the scampi, you need a dry sparkling wine with a strong flavor like Franciacorta Mosel EBB 2011, or a great Sicilian white by Andrea Francherti like the the 2015 Passopisciaro. Another great option is a Chardonnay grown on Mt. Etna with great flavor that is also able to balance the scampi’s natural sweetness.”
Virginia: «I would combine them with a great Chablis: grand cru Le Clos by Droin, which has a flavor capable of balancing the scampi’s sweetness but also possesses an elegance and finesse that only a woman can grasp».
Purple Shrimp from Gallipoli
Mario: “For the undisputed king of raw seafood the best is in order: the bubbly par excellence is a Giulio Ferrari Reserve of the founder vintage 2001; it is fine and elegant, it contains a freshness that you would not expect from this vintage. Or I would opt for a Movia, a Slovenian sparkling wine.”
Virginia: “For me, purple shrimp needs a strong bold wine that is delicate at the same time. Why not pair it with a Mersault like Philippe Pacalet? Maybe an older vintage, like a nice 1999; only a great French white can balance such a sweet crustacean.”
Mario: “The combination par excellence is a classic German pairing: a Willi Schaefer Riesling Auslese Graacher Domprobst 2015, which calls for an oyster after each glass or vice versa. I must say that I would challenge anyone to resist this combination.”
Virginia: “Being a Francophile, for me the oysters go only and exclusively with Muscadet, even if lately I have been seduced by a slightly eccentric combination: a red from the Beaujolais area, the Morgon 2015 Domaine Marcel LaPierre, made with 100% gamay grapes 100%.
Mario: “I would combine the sea urchin with an elegant white from the south of Romagna, well-rounded but at the same time delicate, which can enhance and not cover all the most beautiful sensations that are expressed in this fruit. I recommend a Plinio della Taverna, an old white wine from the Romagna, currently produced as a late harvest in November – based on the presence of noble rot – fermented and aged in French oak barrels. We are, thus, faced with the most beautiful union between Salento and Romagna.”
Virginia: “I return to my land, when my father took me to the port of Gallipoli to make me eat sea urchins with a piece of bread. I brought it first to the nose and then to the mouth, the old sailors in the port had their wine, rosé, the wine that goes with the raw fish of Salento. I would like to suggest the Rosé Novementi, made from pure Negramaro grapes from the Menhir company.”