The age-old mantra of “white wine with white meat and red wine with red meat” constantly echoes through the culinary world, but the old adage has outstayed its welcome. King crab — the meatier brethren of more common snow crab — encompasses more than 40 varieties; likewise, its succulent meat pairs well with all sorts of wines, from white to red and many in between. You can’t pair just any old bottle with your king crab, but you certainly have a king-sized amount of palate-pleasing options.
For a rich evening meal, pair your Pacific king crab with a Pacific Pinot Gris from California or Oregon. The fruit notes of this red wine — which often include pear, apple and lemon — play nicely with the meatiness of king crab. French Pinot Noir labels with a mineral edge and zesty fruit undertones such as raspberry and orange peel mingle with king crab’s rich mineral taste.
If your king crab makes up part of a lighter dish, such as a lunch paired with raw salad or fresh fruit, many white wines make a tasty complement. The key here lies in avoiding overly sweet whites, as crab has a naturally sweet undertone. Buttery French Chardonnay certainly works, but New Zealand Sauvignon blanc offers a more complex pairing as its grassy, fruity undertones offset the with crab’s light seafood flavor. Perhaps surprisingly, a crisp and dry California or Washington Riesling works extremely well with king crab, offering a pleasingly acidic complement to the sweet meat.
Outside of the Box
If the occasion calls for champagne, accent the innate moistness of the crab meat with a brut variety. For an alternative sparkling wine, try a Spanish Cava made from Xarel-lo grapes. Its intense flavor and thick texture works especially well with king crab dishes such as crab cakes or crab bisque. For Japanese dining, complement juicy, rich king crab with a dry and light sake.
More to Consider
Few meals consist of unadorned crab meat, so take the other elements of the plate into consideration when pairing wine with king crab. For example, tangy, citrusy Riesling work best with plain crab, but you may prefer a creamier white Burgundy wine if you like your crab with lots of butter or sauce. In general, crisp wines with an acidic, mineral edge make pleasing companions to king crab.
References and ResourcesAlaska King Crab Co.: King Crab 101
Gayot: Pairing Wine with Seafood
Wine Magazine: Perfect Seafood Pairings
Sunset: The Best Wine with Crab
William-Sonoma: Taste: Expert Tip: How to Pair Wine with Crab
ResourcesSavuer: Grilled King Crab Legs
Food and Wine: King Crab and Avocado Shooters
ABC: The Chew: Mario Batali's King Benedict