Oysters make you amorous, or so the story goes. So as Valentine's Day approached, I went on the prowl for wines that embrace the bivalve.
Like the lovelorn, I sought advice from those who had played this mating game. Executive chef Benjamin Erjavec reported that when some 200 diners paired oysters with wines at a recent mating event held at Oceanaire restaurant on Aliceanna Street, the crowd favorite was a French sauvignon blanc, Lalande. Meanwhile, a Baltimore wine merchant suggested the classic match of Muscadet and oysters. A New York Times column I read recommended hooking up with a beaujolais, Lapierre Morgon. And a fellow selling oysters at Nick's Inner Harbor Seafood in Baltimore's Cross Street Market told me Linganore Winecellars Mountain White was a popular pour.
I bought a dozen Maryland oysters at Faidley's Seafood in the Lexington Market. I took them home and pried them open. I sprinkled parmesan cheese and chopped, cooked bacon on six of them and popped them under the broiler. The rest I served raw. I opened the wines, invited in some neighbors, and then we sipped and chewed. Here is what we thought.
2007 Domaine Marcel Lapierre Morgon Beaujolais:
Burgundy, France, $19.99, 750 milliliters. 12.5 percent alcohol by volume. Maryland distributor: Chesapeake Beverage Group
Drinking red wine with oysters may seem to violate propriety, but this beaujolais with light body and crisp fruit was a harmonious match with the oyster's brine. It got along equally well with raw and cooked mollusks.
2007 Domaine Lalande Cotes de Gascogne Sauvignon Blanc:
Gascony, France, $10.99, 750 milliliters. 12 percent alcohol by volume. Maryland distributor: Reliable Churchill
This wine was clean; bright with grapefruit aroma and a tartness that married with the oyster's creamy texture and salinity.
2007 Chateau de la Fessardiere Muscadet:
Loire, France, $11.99, 750 milliliters.12 percent alcohol by volume. Maryland distributor: Chesapeake Beverage Group
Muscadet is a classic partner for oysters, but this one seemed to lack the flint that usually makes the partnership work.
Linganore Winecellars Mountain White:
Mount Airy, Md., $10.99, 750 milliliters. 10.5 percent alcohol by volume. Maryland distributor: F.P. Winner
This sweet local wine clashed with the saltiness of the Maryland oyster.