Challenging Wine Pairing: Dungeness Crabmeat Au Gratin

By LaGayle ~ March 16th, 2011.

One of my favorite foods is crabmeat au gratin; however, it’s not something that I eat often. While it is “yummy” as my granddaughter says, it is very rich. I decided that it would be a great food to incorporate into one of our challenging wine pairing dinners. Dungeness crabmeat was used in this preparation along with the usual onion, bell pepper, several different cheeses, and spices including Creole seasoning. This entrée is delicious, it’s simple to prepare, and it makes a great presentation. I chose to serve it in individual au gratin dishes rather than as a casserole.

The menu for this meal consisted of a mixed green salad, Dungeness crabmeat au gratin, corn maque choux, and Cajun green bean stir-fry. As a note on the side dish, corn maque choux (pronounced “mock shoe”) is a traditional dish of southern Louisiana thought to be of Cajun and Native American influence and has ingredients that include corn, bell pepper, onion, and tomatoes.

Once the menu was set, it was time to select our two wines. With the seafood entrée, we chose two white wines, both from Washington State, the 2009 Maison Bleue Jaja White Wine, a blend of Roussanne, Chardonnay, and Marsanne, and the 2008 Crayelle Cellars Dry Riesling. Both of these wines had done well in previous blind samples tastings, and we were excited to try them with food. They were both very good and paired well with the meal; however, three out of the four of us gave the nod for the night to the Jaja White. By the way, the Jaja label explains that “jaja” is southern French slang for a great everyday wine, which I think is a perfect description of what we try to find in these challenging wine pairings.

We’d love for you to share in the comments what you would have paired with this meal. And, as always, we welcome your suggestions for challenging wine pairings for us to try in the future.

Bon Appétit!

2009 Maison Bleue Jaja White Wine (Yakima Valley, Washington): 67% Roussanne, 28% Chardonnay, and 5% Marsanne. Pale, straw yellow in color. Nice nose with apple, pear, and grassy aromas. More apple and pear as well as some minerality and a hint of lemon come through on the palate. Dry and medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a long, refreshing finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 3 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $15; Available elsewhere, $14 to $17

2008 Crayelle Cellars Dry Riesling (Columbia Valley, Washington): Pale yellow in color. Aromas of petrol and pear lead to flavors of lemon and white peach on the palate. Dry and medium-bodied with crisp acidity and a long finish. Residual Sugar: 0.05%
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to Buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $16

Filed under: American Wine, Challenging Wine Pairing, Food & Wine, Riesling, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

Reader's Comments

  1. The Sediment Blog | March 16th, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Ah Dungeness, loved by Londoners like ourselves – we’d have gone for either Chablis or a white Burgundy – but then we’re traditionalists…

    Romney Marsh lamb next?

  2. Crayelle Cellars | March 17th, 2011 at 6:40 am

    Our 2008 Dry Riesling is sold out. The 2009 is currently available and is similar in style, bright fruit with clean acidity. Thanks for the review. Sounds like a great meal!

  3. Mike Veseth | March 17th, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Your pairings sound great — can’t wait to try them.

    Have you seen Cynthia Nims’s Crab cookbook? (It is part of a series on Pacific Northwest foods.)
    It is full of great crab recipes. There is one section where she reports the result of extensive tests to determine the best wine pairings with different types of crab dishes. Sure wish I was on that test panel!

  4. Kori | March 17th, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I think that Chablis and white Burgundy would have paired well with this meal also. Chardonnay is a great food wine. We decided to try something a little different with this pairing, but the JaJa does have Chardonnay in the blend. And thanks for the lamb suggestion for a future challenging wine pairing. Great idea!

    Thanks for the update. I look forward to trying your 2009 Dry Riesling. Keep up the good work!

    No, we haven’t seen Cynthia Nims’ Crab Cookbook. Thanks for sharing the link. It sounds great. We’ll have to check it out. And I agree, it would be a lot of fun to be on that test panel!