The Expert-Approved Wine Pairings For Your Summer Seafood Boils

A great way to celebrate the summer months is with a seafood boil and a glass of wine. Although seafood is one of the easier food genres to pair with, it doesn't feel that way if you aren't yet comfortable pairing food and wine together. To that end, we reached out to Rob Krueger, Beverage Director at Smith & Mills, The Golden Swan, and Tiny's & the Bar Upstairs to find out what he thought the best wine pairings were for the occasion.

For a classic seafood experience that's heavy on the butter, like lobster or a crab boil, Krueger said, "You can go Old World or New World but go chardonnay." He elaborated, "We carry Paul Nicolle's Old Vines Chablis at Smith & Mills Rockefeller Center, which has texture and minerality, and Scribe Chardonnay from Sonoma, which has American oak, which rings the butter bell."

Whenever you have strong notes of butter, chardonnay should be at the top of your list. Chardonnay is so well-suited for buttery dishes that it's arguably become too commonplace. There are a lot of great wines to pair with lobster and similarly flavored dishes, so don't feel obligated to choose chardonnay just because it's the most obvious choice. If you want to up your wine pairing game, start thinking about the difference between complementary and congruent wine pairings. For example, chardonnay would be a congruent wine pairing since it shares a similar buttery profile.

Spicy seafood dishes require a different kind of wine pairing

Plenty of seafood dishes incorporate spices that turn up the heat, and we love them for it, but spiciness and wine don't always come together well. It's not impossible, by any means, but it does significantly change the wine pairing process. For spicy seafood boils, like a crawfish boil, Krueger recommended the Soave Classico: "Suavia Soave is a perfect summer wine for spicy stuff. It's plush and peachy and goes great with shrimp, butter, garlic, chili, and lemon." That may not sound all that impressive, but having a wine as versatile as this one in your pocket can be a game changer.

It's not very common to pair red wine with spicy food because of the way capsaicin (the chemical responsible for heat) interacts with the higher alcohol content and the tannins in red wine. You may eventually discover a red wine that goes well with spicy food, but that will be an outlier. So, white wine is the way to go and specifically one that won't be fighting the boldness of a spicy dish. You want a white wine that's accommodating enough to not fight for center stage but one that's flavorful enough that it doesn't come across as weak or watery in comparison. Though not a one-for-one translation, wines that pair well with a bold seasoning like garlic are a good place to start looking for inspiration.