Lobster Wine Pairing: The Top 5 Wines

by JJ Buckley Fine Wines

lobster & seafood in a skillet

Whether you're hosting a dinner party or celebrating a business deal or milestone anniversary, you may find yourself wondering about the best wine to serve with lobster. The ideal wine will depend upon several factors, such as how the lobster was prepared and what types of sauces or side dishes will accompany the main course.

Understanding the Lobster Wine Pairing

Lobster is highly sought after for its mild, slightly sweet flavor and light texture. This delicate flavor presents a pleasing contrast to the robust outer shell, and the flavor and texture changes depending on how it was cooked.

How Was the Lobster Cooked?

1. Grilled lobster

When grilled, lobster takes on a chewy texture with a bit of char. The taste intensifies, marrying happily with whatever seasoning or marinade you use.

2. Boiled lobster

Boiled lobster has a fresh taste, as though you plucked the crustacean from the ocean and prepared it within minutes. The salty sweet taste and moderately soft texture offer plenty of serving options.

3. Steamed lobster

Similar to boiled lobster, with a fresh, salty-sweet taste, steamed lobster is distinguished by its soft texture. Steamed lobster almost seems to melt in your mouth.

4. Baked lobster

When baked, lobster develops a deeper flavor and a meaty texture. Baked lobster is the most versatile option, since it allows for plenty of sauces and accompaniments and offers incredible options for presentation.

How Can Wine Complement the Flavor of Lobster?

The right wine will bring out the best in any food, and lobster is no exception. Lobster, with its delicate and crisp flavoring, is well-suited to wines with their own crisp, fresh notes. As noted above, the way that the lobster was prepared will play a part in which wine will complement it the most.

The Top 5 Wines for Lobster

If you're wondering “What wine pairs with lobster?", it’s time to find out. The great news is that there's more than one type of wine that you can choose for your lobster main course.

The general rule to pair white wine with white meat and red wine with red meat holds true, with a few intriguing exceptions.

1. Chardonnay

Chardonnay is undoubtedly the top choice when pairing a white wine with lobster. It can be oaky and buttery or it can be crisp and fruit-forward. Either way, it suits the light flavor of a lobster dish. This wine works well with creamy, buttery sauces, or with boiled or steamed lobster with a buttery glaze.

Additionally, white Burgundy has plenty of acidity and citrus notes, which are ideal complements to lobster. You can also pair boiled, steamed or grilled lobster with Chablis, since the minerality and citrusy notes will bring out the complex flavors in the lobster.

2. Riesling

Riesling is high in acidity, fruits, and sweet floral notes, making it ideal for the natural sweetness in lobster meat. It goes especially well with baked or broiled lobster, and it also suits lobster cooked with Asian or spicy sauces. Since it has plenty of citrus notes, it also pulls out the natural partnership between lobster and lemon.

You might also want to consider Gewurztraminer, with its spicy-sweet notes and hints of tropical fruit. This wine is lower in acidity, but its pleasing ginger flavor suits lobster. Like Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris is also rich in gingery, citrusy, tropical fruit notes and brings out the delicate flavors in this sought-after seafood.

3. Sauvignon Blanc

Lobster dishes rich in herbs and other greens suit the natural herbaceousness of Sauvignon Blanc. This wine has good acidity and zesty citrus and complements boiled or steamed lobster.

Alternatively, you could select Chenin Blanc and Albarino. These wines lack the herbaceous notes, but their lighter bodies, higher acidity and abundant citrus flavors make them ideal pairing options. Albarino also has a natural saltiness that blends well with the salty sweetness of lobster.

4. Rose

This is an unusual choice, but it can enhance the delicate flavor of lobster. Dry Rose, like Grenault, Syrah, or blended Provencal, has enough subtlety to avoid overpowering the lobster, but enough complexity to do it justice.

A bottle of Champagne, or even a Rose Champagne, can complement a baked or grilled lobster dish. Other sparkling wines like Prosecco and Cava are good options as well. All are the kind of acidic, bubbly wine that matches lobster.

5. Chianti

Normally, red wine doesn’t work with lobster. There’s too much contrast and the rich tannins and bold flavors can be overpowering. However, a few types of lighter red wine work well for tomato-based lobster dishes and can take the dish to new heights.

One of the more common red wine pairings for lobster is Chianti. This wine, made from Sangiovese grapes in the Chianti Hills of Tuscany, has high enough acidity, low enough tannins and enough herbaceous notes to enhance the sauce and the lobster. One other red wine that works with tomato-based sauces also comes from Italy. Barbera is likewise low in tannins and high in acidity, and its deep fruits are subtle enough to marry with the tomato sauce and the lobster. Unoaked Barbera provides more flexibility than oaked versions.

Tips for Good Wine with Lobster

For lobster in a creamy sauce:

  • Try pairing an oaked or unoaked Chardonnay, a white Burgundy or Chablis.

For lobster with spicy seasonings:

  • Consider a dry or off-dry Riesling, or else a Gewurztraminer or Pinot Gris.

For lobster in a tomato sauce:

  • Look to Chianti or Barbera, usually unoaked.

For steamed or boiled lobster with butter:

  • Consider an oaked or unoaked Chardonnay, or else an Albarino, Champagne or sparkling wine.

For lobster with plenty of greens:

  • Try pairing the lobster with Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc or a dry Rose.

To explore these wines and more for your lobster and wine pairing, we encourage you to visit our expansive collection of fine wines. We also offer professional wine consultation services designed to help you choose the best wine pairings, find new wines for your collection, or look at your options for wine storage.