Summer (or what passes for it) is the perfect time of year to eat crab so why not try out your wine pairing skills and work out which wines you'd match with these eight different crab dishes. My own suggestions below . . .
1. Dressed crab
2. Linguine with crab
3. Crab bisque
4. Thai crab cakes
5. Maryland crab cakes
6. Crab saffron and leek quiche
7. Deep-fried soft shell crabs
8. Crab in black bean sauce
My suggested pairings:
1. Dressed crab is a treat, even though prices have fallen. You want to be able to taste the delicate meat so I’d suggest a classic Chablis or fine white burgundy such as Puligny-Montrachet. (The same would apply to fresh crab sandwiches or a simple crab salad though I might well pick a Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé for the latter, especially if it included asparagus. See also this match with 17 year old Muscadet here!)
2. Linguine with crab is quite a spicy recipe that usually includes garlic and red chilli and occasionally lemon. You could drink a citrussy (rather than a herbaceous) Sauvignon Blanc or a dry Kabinett Riesling with it but I’d go for a good quality Pinot Grigio, Soave or Albariño. (And leave out the lemon)
3. Crab bisque. Rich and luxurious this recipe normally contains cream and cognac as well as having a dominant flavour of brown crab meat - a good opportunity to crack open a seriously good barrel-fermented Chardonnay with a couple of years’ bottle age. White southern French blends of Roussanne, Marsanne and Viognier work well too.
4. Thai crab cakes. My choice would depend on whether I was having these as a snack on their own or as part of a Thai meal. If it was the former I’d go for a dry Riesling or a Loire Sauvignon Blanc. With the latter I’d look for a wine with slightly more sweetness such as a Tokay Pinot Gris or a spätlese Riesling. Witbier is the other great pick as you’ll see from this Match of the Week.
5. Maryland crab cakes. The classic American crab cake, much richer than the Thai ones, but with a spicy kick. Unoaked or lightly oaked Chardonnay would be the safe choice but I’m not sure I wouldn’t reach for an Albariño.
6. Crab, saffron and leek quiche. Saffron is the key in this Rick Stein recipe which you can find on the BBC’s website. I love Viognier and Viognier blends with saffron-infused recipes so I’d go for that.
7. Deep-fried soft shell crabs. Sometimes these are served with a strong punchy dressing but I think, if you want to appreciate the delicate flavour of the crab, it’s better to serve them relatively plain. As with other deep-fried foods they go fantastically well with Champagne and other sparkling wines.
8. Crab in black bean sauce. Always a tricky one as black bean sauce is so pungent but I came across a brilliant match a while ago at the Four Seasons hotel in Park Lane where chef Tak of Lung King Heen, the Cantonese restaurant at the Four Seasons Hong Kong was cooking for a week to celebrate the Chinese New Year. His version was the best crab in black bean sauce I’ve ever eaten - deep and aromatic in flavour, sweet but not cloying. It was matched with a decent but not exceptional Mud House Pinot Noir from New Zealand and the pairing was spot on. I suspect you’d need a fuller, richer Pinot with most commercial black bean sauces.