Modern Wines for Fresh Seafood by @BistroWineMan, Stephen Barrett

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Seafood has many textures, colours, shapes and prices! Each of us who are Seafood Lovers will usually (rather like wines) stick to the tried and tested favourites we tried in years past. The ubiquitous Prawn Cocktail is one in question that is of course, still with us, with its sweetish Marie Rose Sauce over a shaved bed of lettuce in a non-descript wine glass served with a slice of Lemon (you couldn’t squeeze it!) and a tiny fork.

Fast forward to another phenomenon that weedled its way into pub culture in the 60’s and 70’s to great acclaim. Scampi (in a basket) was everywhere! You didn’t need a chef to cook it, just a person with and apron and a deep fryer.

We soon (as a holiday seeking nation) visited Spain and came back with a new word in our fledgling culinary vocabulary; Calamari!

What on earth was it? And in its natural state would we prepare it? Hell no, but the frozen, rubber-band –type rings of the stuff were now sitting alongside every High Street chain restaurant’s menu!

It appeared Seafood had arrived via the frozen food cabinets of every Cash and Carry possibly masquerading as ‘fresh!’ Fast forward to the 1980’s when all Westcountry Fishing Markets suddenly woke up to the essential freshness and quality of our local bounty. Whilst Prawns remain mainly frozen the quality and variability has changed out of sight. Nephrops Norvegicus, Langoustines, Dublin Bay Prawns or Scampi are still with us but now offered fresh from your fishmonger. Lots of dishes to conjure up here!

Calamari is of course Squid, and along with its so called cousins, Octopus and Cuttlefish and are plentiful from the fishmonger, so no excuse to purchase ready battered Calamari rings anymore.

Other seafood, shellfish and fish are seasonally available in your local Restaurant or Bistro that excite adventurous chefs no end! Give them a call to see what’s fresh on the day, they will be more than happy to talk you through the menu and offer new tastes, textures and flavours.

Wine of course is also important with seafood but by being adventurous you might just discover flavour profiles that will delight! Take the famous White Burgundy Chablis, a wine that most people know and might have sipped. They say it is perfect with Oysters! So are many other wines notably Muscadet and Picpoul de Pinet (amongst others) It’s pronounced mineral/stone fruit note (the grapes are grown mainly on Limestone) seem to marry with the saline/mineral note of freshly-shucked Oysters a treat.

Try this one from the Coop – Irresistible Chablis 2017 at just £12.00 for 75cl. Made by the excellent JM Brocard it will not disappoint. The maturity offered by the 2017 vintage will show how Chablis can age. Offer at around 8/10 degrees C for a perfect match.

Next another 2017 Chardonnay from the Coop this time from Western Australia made by Larry Cherubino and Rob Merrick. This is also in the Irresistible range at just £7.00 for 75cl. With Vanilla on the nose this rich Chardonnay offers a full-bodied style with a light citrus finish of note. Being a more ballsy wine enjoy this with pan-fried Monkfish with a light crème-fraiche sauce!

Lastly a great Rose from Provence, elaborated by the noted of Perrin Brothers. This is a cracking wine full of character, spice and length (long aftertaste). Matching plenty of Seafood, Shellfish and Fish, especially cooked in the Mediterranean style, it’s a sure fire hit! Find again at the Coop for just £7.75 under the name of Vieille Ferme Rose 2017. I hope this short explanation of fresh seafood, shellfish and fish will encourage you to experiment a tad with your wines this autumn at Plymouth Seafood Festival.


Stephen Barrett is a Wine, Food and Travel Writer based in Plymouth. Stephen welcomes correspondence via his website Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and Instagram @bistrowineman

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