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Wine Pairing with Sea Scallops?

I am throwing a dinner party this weekend, and I am stuck as to a wine pairing with my first course. It is a seared sea scallop on a simple pea puree with pancetta and gremolata. I was thinking of a buttery chardonnay, but I am unsure. Any suggestions? Please help.

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  1. Actually, instead of a buttery chard, I'd try a nice Chablis or Sancerre.

    1. NOT buttery chardonnay! If it must be chardonnay, tray a Chablis as mentioned above. Savennieres, Alsation Pinot Gris, dry Riesling, Bordeuax Blanc.

      1. There is a dish I make with seared scallops. I place three perfectly seared scallops on top of a bed of mashed potatoes that's centered in a pool of chive beurre blanc. It's amazing with a buttery chardonnay, and those who know my pairing tendencies on this board, know that I almost never recommend a buttery chardonnay. But it works because of the butter in the mashed potatoes, and the butter in the beurre blanc. God, it does sound like excess as I write this, and rest assured, my total cholesterol is very low.

        But that's not your dish. You have scallops with beautiful pea puree, and a buttery chard isn't as good a choice as a White Bordeaux (I'll again recommend a favorite: the Smith Haut Lafitte) or a Savennieres, both of which are lovely with fish/shellfish, delicate green pea-ness, and a touch of herbs and citrus.

        I reviewed the Smith Haut Lafitte in this Chowhound thread, and enjoyed it with several seafood preparations. You can see that many of the ingredients are similar:

        Also, please read the pairings for fresh pea soup here:

        Finally, here also is my review of the Baumard Savennieres

        Good luck to you. Sounds like a nice dish.

        P.S.: I'd leave out the garlic in the gremolata were I you. I'd also throw in just a sprinkle of chopped mint in place of some of the parsley. My guess is the garlic will overwhelm the delicate other flavors, the same reason for not using a buttery chardonnay -- it will erase some of the delicate flavors of the dish.

        8 Replies
        1. re: maria lorraine

          The only time I serve buttery Chardonnay with scallops is when I make John Ash's recipe for seared scallops in vanilla-scented sauce. He developed that recipe specifically for buttery chards.

          1. re: maria lorraine

            I'm with you on the garlic thing, it will overwhelm the rest of the dish. One way to get around that is to poach the garlic first and cut back in quantity. That way it should be a mild background flavor. If GG has access to good, fresh, flavorful flat-leaf parsley, I think that would go wonderfully with the scallops and a white Bordeaux -- if not, I'll second the mint.

            A Muscadet would work well here, too.

            1. re: maria lorraine

              There is no garlic in this particular version of gremolata for this dish. I agree with everyone that it would completely overpower it. But I think I might try the mint. Thanks for the suggestion. And thank you to everyone for all the good advice. I'll let you know what I ended up going with and how it turned out.

              1. re: GourmetGator

                dear gourmetgator, I have to say I'm personnaly a bit doubtfull about the mint, not all wines can take mint - and unfortunately this depends more on the way the wine is made, than on the variety, so it is often quite a gamble...

                Looking forward to hearing about the results! Thank you in advance!

                1. re: Willem

                  A tiny amount. Often used in pea soup, with favas, artichokes, spring vegetables, beans.

                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    si, si... ;=)
                    reading this, suddenly the association of mint with favas makes my smile... thx

                    1. re: Willem

                      Thread drift alert...tell us what you drink in the Netherlands, Willem. Wines from Germany, Austria, Italy, France...what?

                      1. re: maria lorraine

                        Hmm, a description of Dutch wine consumption might also be a drift... Traditionally France is by far our biggest supplier still. South Africa comes second, unfortunately mostly the cheapies. Same goes for Germany. Austria is in the lift, and fortunately mostly the better wines.
                        In the South of the Netherlands there are a few tiny good wineries, notably Apostelhoeve.
                        Their pinot gris might do Ok with this dish. Pooh, back on topic ;=)

            2. My first choice would be "chardonnay in almost any form". Be it buttery, austere, champagne.... the more important thing is that it be a good example of it's style. I'd prefer a great "buttery" cardonnay over an insipid white burgundy but just the same I'd prefer a great w.b. over an insipid "butter bomb"... just get the best of it's type that your wine vendor's can offer.

              This said, your dinner would be an excellent opportunity to sample SEVERAL STYLES of chardonnay so that your guests to note the nuances and how they match with this very well-matched meal.

              fwiw, a nice sauvignon blanc or kabinett riesling would be very enjoyable here as well.

              1. Fino or Manzanilla Sherry.

                End of discussion.

                1. Chablis, Sancerre or Gruner Veltliner. I wouldn't do a buttery chard.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: oolah

                    Would say it is important to look at the pancetta as well. This is a strong flavour component, that makes pinot gris/grigio wines surface as well as possibilities. From Alsace like Trimbach Cuvee personelle or a nice Zind Humbrecht, or the better ones from Alto Adige (like Tramin Unterebner) of from Friuli (around $ 20,-). Fuller style dry riesling will take everything up as well, like the good ones from Austria.

                    For my the garlic is perfect, just use it in moderation. The gremolato makes the gruner veltliner as mentioned above a great choice as well with its spice aroma - do you take the fuller styled once, often called smaragd or november. A good chablis which is in essence 'fresh' chardonnay (take a premier cru) of indeed fuller bodied Loire sauvignon blanc will do fine as well, spend at least $25,- on this kind of wines (sancerre, pouilly fume, menetou salon).

                    The above suggestion of Baumard Savenieres is probably the absolute winner, especially if you can get a bottle that already has aged a few years. Other Loire schenin blanc like good vouvray (from Chidaine for example) will be lovely as well.

                    All in all you will need a structured white, relatively full, with matching acidity and a developed aroma to complete the match. Complexity in the wine is a plus and will make the marriage perfect.

                    Bon ap

                  2. Another vote for Chablis. Specifically, Les Fourchaumes. It will go really well with the flavors you have in your dish.

                    1. I'd do a drier Alsatian (Tokay) Pinot Gris as my #1 choice. You can also do a bigger Sauvignon Blanc from Alto Adige or Friuli in Italy or a top notch (but not too heavily oaked) SB from the CA -- if you can find it and $29ish is in your budget, I would *highly* reccomend the Merry Edwards. An Austrian Riesling, SB, or Neuberger might also pair nicely. Also, and these get up there in price quickly, a white Bordeaux. I'm partial to the Chevalier, myself.

                      1. there have been numerous seasoning suggestions on the board for this dish. As presented in the OP I really favor chardonnay as a match for "scallops, pea puree and gremolata"... and it tolerates the pancetta...

                        As for seasonings, garlic and chardonnay are made for each other, so there's no conflict there at all.....

                        But if you're going to do EITHER a vanilla-infused or mint-infused version, these would tilt the wine selection towards riesling, for my tastes....

                        1. The first two varietals that I think of for scallops are SB and then Chardonnay. Without any sort of cream sauce, the SB would be my first choice, with a Chablis (Chard) as my second. Think of the SB as a "squeeze of lemon" on the scallops.

                          If you want a red, then Pinot Noir would be the direction, that I would head. The body of the prep would dictate which style I'd go for.



                          1. Falanghina by Mustilli or Cantia di Taburno
                            Fiano di Avellino by Macchialupa

                            1. I think any Loire white would do, especially Menetou-Salon or Sancerre. If you want something slightly off-dry, go with a demi-sec Vouvray. You might even try a Chinon blanc if you can find one.

                              I'd stay away from a buttery chardonnay. If you want a fuller-bodied chardonnay, I'd go with a one of those creamier blanc de blancs champagnes.