Crab cakes are a great addition to any dinner party. They are always a crowd-pleaser, but what wines pair the best with crab cakes? Depending on your recipe, there are lots of different wines that will enhance this classic dish.
If you’re stumped on which wine will go with your crab cake dish, this article will help you select the perfect wine to accompany your meal that will wow both you and your guests.
The safest choice wine varietal to pair with crab cakes is a classic Chardonnay. It is a universally loved wine because of its mild flavor, oaky qualities, and buttery finish. These qualities make it a great accompaniment to a traditional Maryland-style crab cake dish.
If your crab cake recipe is a traditional style with chunks of sweet crab meat, savory buttery crackers, and minimal spices, Chardonnay will complement it very well.
The subtle sweetness and smoothness of this classic white wine makes Chardonnay an ideal choice to match the sweetness in the crab meat. It would be a great wine to bring as a guest if you know crab cakes are on the menu, but you’re unsure how they are being prepared.
Another white wine that pairs well with crab cakes is Sauvignon Blanc. This pairing is a case of opposites attract because the crisp, citrusy burst of flavor in a glass of Sauvignon Blanc provides great contrast for the sweet crab meat.
The bright, zippy Sauvignon Blanc is a great companion to a crab cake recipe that has Thai or Indian flavors. The richness of the spice blend in a crab cake recipe like this is offset by the sharpness of the wine. The combination of the two creates great taste polarity.
If you like to put fresh lemon or lemon juice on your crab cakes, Sauvignon Blanc is a great choice. It is full of grass, lemon, and mineral notes that will enhance the flavors in your crab cakes in much the same way as a lemon garnish would.
Prosecco or Cava
If you’re serving your crab cakes at a party or celebration or if you just prefer bubbly wine to still, you can’t go wrong with a Prosecco or Cava as a pairing option. Both of these bubbly wines are on the sweeter side, which makes them taste great alongside almost any crab cake dish.
Not all bubbly wines are created equal. You definitely want to look for a sweeter bubbly to serve with crab cakes as opposed to a glass of dry brut champagne. Crabmeat on its own is sweet and savory, so a bubbly with a higher sugar content like these two options pairs very well.
You specifically want to grab Prosecco or Cava for any crab cake dish that is deep-fried or served with a creamy, buttery sauce or topping. The sweet flavors and subtle bubbles go very well with this crab cake style.
Pinot Grigio is another reliable choice to pair with crab cakes because of its versatility. Occupying a space in the wine world between the sweet, buttery Chardonnay and the fresh, citrusy Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio is a happy medium for wine lovers.
If you want to make sure the wine doesn’t compete with the flavors in your crab cakes, Pinot Grigio is a good choice. It’s a great alternative to Chardonnay if you aren’t a fan of the creamy flavors of that varietal. Pinot Grigio is light and bright, but still sweet and pleasing to taste.
Conversely, if you find the sharp, mineral quality of a Sauvignon Blanc to be too harsh to pair with your crab cakes, Pinot Grigio is definitely the choice for you as well. With notes of pear, apple, honey, and herbs, it is very flavorful without being overpowering.
This one is for spice lovers! For a crab cake recipe that brings the heat, you want to pair it with a very sweet wine. Riesling is a sweet, German varietal that does a great job of counteracting spicy recipes like a Creole-style crab cake.
Many discerning wine lovers discount Riesling as a varietal because it’s very sweet, so it is often overlooked as a food pairing wine. While you may not traditionally enjoy drinking very sweet wines, Riesling is a great companion to many spicy, bold dishes including crab cakes.
Although Reisling is sometimes considered a dessert wine, it brings out the richness of the crab meat and provides a great contrast to a hot, spicy recipe.
When you think of crab cakes or any seafood for that matter, you may not expect to pair a glass of red wine with it. Although white wine is usually the wine of choice for these types of dishes, you’d be surprised to find that mild-bodied red wines like Pinot Noir pairs well with crab cakes.
Pinot Noir is a very versatile red wine because it doesn’t overpower the flavor of any food you pair it with. It effortlessly complements the flavors and makes for an overall rich tasting experience. It is a great red wine lovers’ pairing for a crab cake dish and most other seafood.
The first thing you’ll notice about Pinot Noir is its beautiful translucent ruby red color. This coloring is indicative of the soft flavors and moderately high acidity that is common in Pinot Noir, which makes it a great pairing for the savory richness of any crabmeat dish.
Another great option for red wine drinkers to pair with crab cakes would be Sangiovese. This Italian varietal is loved for its drinkability both on its own and with food. It pairs incredibly well with a wide range of foods including shellfish like crab.
Sangiovese is typically a fairly dry and crisp red wine like Pinot Noir, so the acidity and tannins make it a good complement to the flavors of traditional Maryland-style crab cakes especially.
Sangiovese is a very popular grape because it is very earthy and fresh tasting with notes of cherry, red peppers, and even tobacco. You will often find Sangiovese in red wine blends as well, which is another great option for pairing with this type of dish.