For Seafood Junkies: Maison Premiere
Guiding Principle: At a restaurant known for its extensive absinthe list, the wine list deserves equal attention. The list is put together with an eye toward wines with finesse and balance that pair well with the oysters and seafood menu, so if brawny, powerful California Cabernet is your thing, stay away.
Behind the Scenes: Co-owner Krystof Zizka has long had an interest in value-driven wines of the Loire Valley. Hard-to-find magnums of muscadet are of particular interest.
The Food: Seafood. Known for their oyster selection, the dinner menu branches out into crabs, fish and all sorts of fruits de mer.
Manzanilla, La Cigarrera, (375 ml) ($24)
Crisp, cold and refreshing dry sherry from the tiny seaside town of Sanlucar de Barrameda, manzanilla is said to have salty-ish notes reminiscent of the sea - this is not your grandmother’s sweet cream sherry. If you’ve been shy about joining the recent sherry hype, oysters and sherry are a can’t-miss pairing.
Touraine, Clos Roche Blanche, “No. 2,” 2011 $45
From a tiny estate on the Loire River where no chemicals are used in the vineyards, this sauvignon blanc pairs well with the seafood but isn’t affected by the price inflation of branded Sancerre.
Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, Jo Landron, “Hermine D’Or,” 2010 $40
From the melon de Bourgogne grape grown where the Loire River meets the Atlantic, the best examples of muscadet are crisp and refreshing but not insipid. Muscadet and oysters are a classic pairing, since the mouth of the Loire is the unofficial oyster capital of Europe. For a treat, spring for one of the back vintages of Muscadet on the wine list - muscadet isn’t often thought of as a wine that can age, but the best examples develop depth and complexity over time.