Crab dishes make for some of the most refined and upscale appetizers in the culinary world, and choosing the best wine with crab can elevate both the food and the wine to higher levels.
Crab meat is delicate and soft, with light flavors that can easily be overpowered by the wrong glass of wine. The best wines to pair with crab dishes are light and balanced, with light notes of crisp acidity and a clean finish.
The Best Wine With Crab – Top 5 Choices
The Chardonnay grape is the most popular and widely planted white wine grape in the entire world and can be used to make everything from California “oak bombs” to light and crisp bottles of Chablis. The latter makes for much better wine pairings that truly let the crab shine.
The Chablis region of France is world-renowned for producing some of the highest quality bottles of Chardonnay in the entire world. These wines are nearly always unoaked to preserve the natural flavors of the grape, which are perfect for delicate shellfish pairings.
Drink & Pair has an entire website section dedicated to finding the best food and wine pairings, and they have awarded the combination of Chardonnay and crab legs with a 5-star rating. Many sommeliers agree that unoaked Chardonnay and crab are a match made in heaven.
William Fevre Les Clos is one of the top Grand Cru producers in the entire Burgundy region, and their signature Chardonnay has drawn many accolades including multiple gold medals at the International Wine Challenge. It is refined and light, which plays great with light shellfish.
For wine enthusiasts looking to spend less than $50 per bottle, Thomas Pico Domaine Pattes Loup Chablis is one of the best options from the Chablis region. It is clean and light with all the full fruit flavors of the Chardonnay grape, which work harmoniously with the delicate crab.
Albariño is a Spanish white wine grape that is used to make clean and fresh dry white wines with elevated minerality. A handful of other countries including Portugal have begun producing Albariño successfully, though it is still most prominent in its home country of Spain.
Rias Baixas is the most important Spanish region when it comes to the production of high-quality Albariño wines, which are known worldwide for their light body and crisp minerality. Both of these traits make this well-balanced Spanish white wine the perfect option for crab pairing.
Fiona Beckett has included Albariño multiple times in her “The Best Wines to Pair With Crab” article, which highlights different suitable wine options for different preparations of crab. Wines from Rias Baixas are fairly affordable, and there are many high-quality producers in the area.
Mar de Frades Albarino is a high-quality bottle of white wine that is considered by many wine experts to be one of the best values in Spanish wine. It is full of bright minerality and very balanced, which makes it a fantastic pairing for light and simple crab dishes.
Bodegas del Palacio de Fefiñanes ‘Albariño de Fefiñanes’ is another crisp and mineral-driven bottle of Albariño that “over delivers” on quality for the price point. A bottle can usually be purchased for under $30, and it is of high enough quality to pair with the most elegant meals.
Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most popular white wine grapes in the world, and it is most widely planted in France, New Zealand, and the United States today. While high-quality bottles of Sauv Blanc can be found in many places, some of the most interesting is in New Zealand.
Food & Wine magazine has released a helpful guide titled “The Best Wines to Pair with Crab Cakes,” which specifically highlights the Sauvignon Blancs of New Zealand as a fantastic pairing option. There are certain subtle fruit notes that can not be replicated anywhere else.
The Marlborough region of New Zealand produced wines with a distinct fruity aroma that many people compared to peach or grapefruit. This gives the wines a slight layer of “tropical” flavors that interact with crab-based dishes without overpowering the palate with flavor.
Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine from the Marlborough region that is often overshadowed by larger producers like Kim Crawford and Cloudy Bay. It offers interesting levels of flavor and aromas that are often compared to citrus fruits.
Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc is another high-quality bottle that is widely distributed all over the world, though not quite yet a household name. It offers a unique play on the signature New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc style which plays well with a variety of different crab dishes.
Rosé wines are both light and full of flavor, with crisp tasting notes and a clean finish. Some of the most famous bottles of Rosé in the world are produced in the Provence region of France, though there are many different countries that produce these pink wines today.
Some of the best Rosé wines for pairing with crab dishes are made using Pinot Noir and Grenache grapes. While Rosé can range from lusciously sweet to bone dry, it is best to stick with dry to off-dry varieties when it comes to pairing with crab.
These bright and clean pink wines often carry sweet fruit flavors like strawberries while containing low levels of residual sugar. This makes them perfect for adding a bit of sweet flavor to shellfish dishes without overpowering the palette with sugar.
Peyrassol Côtes de Provence ‘Chateau Peyrassol’ Rose hails from the southern Rhone region of France and has been awarded multiple high scores by Wine Enthusiast. It makes for a perfect crab dish pairing, as it is light in body with bright and balanced acidity.
Domaines Ott Chateau Romassan Bandol Rose is a high-end bottle of Rosé with a unique bottle design and a fairly high price tag of around $60 for pink wine. It is well worth the expense, however, as only the finest grapes are used to make this top-shelf food-friendly Rosé.
Sparkling wine is one of the most versatile styles of wine when it comes to food pairing, and it provides a unique structure and texture to crab-based dishes that can not be achieved with still wines. Carbonation is a unique property that can open up new worlds when it comes to pairing.
Some of the best sparkling wines for pairing with delicate shellfish dishes are light and delicate with subtle flavors that do not overpower the light natural flavors of the crab. Champagne is home to some of the most famous and refined sparkling wines in the world.
The light flavors of pear and green apple that are present in the Champagne region make for a great pairing with simple crab entrees, as the citrus notes of the sparkling wine act as a garnish that adds flavor to the crab.
Krug Vintage Brut is a favorite among wine experts and sommeliers, and it offers all the best parts of Champagne while also being barrel aged in delicate oak. These refined flavors make for a fantastic pairing with just about any crab dish that can be prepared.
Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage Brut is a high-quality bottle of Champagne that can often be found for under $100 per bottle. It features the light and delicate bubbles typical of the region, and the refined layers of flavor play well with the subtle tasting notes of the crab.
Crab is a refined and delicate shellfish that can make for a fantastic culinary experience when prepared properly. This delicate and clean protein requires an equally delicate wine that will not overpower or overshadow the natural taste of the crab.