Crab meat has a natural sweetness and richness that pair well with a crisp, light, white wine, particularly when the crab itself is not overly dressed. However, this crustacean is just as likely to be prepared with fun spices or a buttery, creamy sauce, and that changes the wine-pairing game. When made with intense or creamy flavors and ingredients, an oaked white will hold up better.
However it’s prepared, the ever-versatile Chardonnay is an excellent choice. Find a Chardonnay that’s well-balanced with a touch of oak and strong backbone of acidity, and you’ll be able to pair it with a variety of crab dishes. And remember: there’s no hard-and-fast rule, here. It’s about what you enjoy and what works for your palate.
We suggest starting off with the below two crab-based recipes and wine pairings from Cakebread Cellars and St. Francis Winery & Vineyards.
Summer Tomato & Sweet Corn Salad with Dungeness Crab, Fresno Chili, Toasted Almonds & Lime Crème Fraiche
From St. Francis Winery Executive Chef Peter Janiak
- ½ cup of crème fraiche
- 1 lime, zested and juiced
- 2 ears of corn (shucked, boiled for 4.5 minutes, cooled to room temp and shaved off the cob)
- 6 oz Dungeness crab
- 1 each Fresno chili, finely diced
- ½ teaspoon of fresh chopped cilantro, plus additional for garnish
- 4 each heirloom tomatoes
- 12 each cherry tomatoes
- Basil leaves for garnish
- 1 teaspoon of chopped chives
- 2 Tablespoons of chopped toasted almonds
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Evoo)
- Mix together crème fraiche, zest and juice of 1 lime and season with salt and black pepper
- Mix corn, crab, Fresno chili, and chopped cilantro. Coat lightly with lime crème fraiche (reserving some for garnish)
- Slice and arrange tomatoes on each plate and drizzle with Evoo and sprinkle with a little salt
- Spoon corn/crab mix over tomatoes
- Garnish plates with lime-crème fraiche, basil leaves, cilantro leaves, chives, and toasted almonds
- Serve and enjoy!
Enjoy with a glass of St. Francis Sonoma County Chardonnay. Its buttery, medium-bodied texture is well-rounded with flavors of melon, citrus, and pineapple; it will pair just right with the zingy yet creamy lime crème fraiche and sweet corn.
Harissa Spiked Roast Crab with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce
- 3 large Dungeness crabs, cooked, cleaned and cracked
- 3 T. olive oil
- 1 ½ T. Whole Spice harissa spice blend*
- 3-4 cloves garlic, mashed
- 2 T. orange juice
- 1 T. lime juice
- 2 T. cilantro, chopped
- 1 c. mayonnaise
- 1/3 c. roasted red peppers
- 1 tsp. Sriracha hot sauce
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Place crab in the bottom of a large casserole dish that is big enough for all the crab to fit in an even layer. Make sure all the legs have had their shells cracked and the pieces of the body broken up into about 6 smaller pieces. You want the marinade to be able to seep into the meat and be well coated.
- In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, harissa spice mix, garlic, half the orange juice and half the lime juice. Pour over the crab and toss with your hands to evenly distribute.
- Place in the middle of the preheated oven. Roast for 10- 12 minutes. Toss once or twice so that the crab cooks evenly.
- While crab is roasting, place the mayonnaise, red peppers, hot sauce and the remaining orange and lime juice in a blender jar. Puree until smooth.
- To serve, place casserole in the center of table to so guest can help themselves and pass bowls of the red pepper sauce. Serve with lots of napkins.
Enjoy with a glass of Cakebread Cellars Chardonnay. It’s a classic wine to pair with shellfish and seafood. Flavors of creamy golden apple, white peach, pear, and melon aromas, are offset with mineral, yeast, and oak spice. Round, supple texture, superb concentration, great depth, and balanced acidity.
*Whole Spice is purveyor of fine spices located in the Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa. You can order from them online at www.wholespice.com. Harissa spice blend is mix of ground dried chilies, cumin, coriander and garlic.