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The Oyster Or The Wine: Which Comes First?

In the annals of classic wine pairings, oysters and white wine are probably on Mt. Rushmore, a founding member of the Hall of Fame, etc. Usually the most bracing of wines, like Muscadet, fit the bill and we alternate wine/oyster/wine as we sip/slurp/sip and repeat. Harvey Steiman of Wine Spectator resists this natural impulse and instead heeds the advice of the organizer of the Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition, Jon Rowley. Steiman, attending a leg of the West Coast event, was instructed by Rowley: "Don't taste the wine first." Rather, chew up the oyster (to establish its flavor and texture), then wash it down with the wine. This, according to Rowley, is how you find oyster and wine bliss.

The judging of the wines was based on this same principle. It wasn't about the best wine but rather which wine worked best with the oyster.

Rowley's inspiration for this method of oyster and wine consumption? A passage from Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast:

"As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans."

How do you enjoy oysters and wine? And do you think employing Rowley's technique might change which white wines you enjoy with oysters?



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