It’s crab feed season in these parts.
Many civic organizations raise funds by throwing shin-digs with tasty Dungeness crab cracked and ready to be consumed.
At most of the crab feeds I’ve attended over the years, the star attraction is marinated, usually in olive oil, garlic, lemon and parsley. Sometimes, Dungeness in its good-old, plain, unadorned glory is offered, which is my preference. I’ve seen people bring rice cookers, lemon wedges, vinegar, sterno butter pots and other gadgets to enhance the cracking, flavorful fun. Me? I usually bring a bottle — or two or three — of wine to share with the group, if permitted by the organizers of the crab feed.
I have some personal favorites, but I also asked other wine/crab-feed aficionados for their picks. As you’ll see, everyone’s palate is different, so the lesson here is: drink what you like.
My picks include the 2015 Markus Wine Company Nativo, Lodi ($19). Winemaker Markus Niggli’s intriguing array of off-the-grid blends includes his vibrant Nativo made from Kerner, Riesling, Bacchus and Gewurztraminer all grown at the Koth family’s Mokelumne Glen Vineyard. Fermented in stainless steel using native yeast and no malolactic fermentation, there’s lychee, peach, lemon and lime zest, honeysuckle and bright acidity.
I also like the 2014 Ginglinger-Fix Gewurztraminer, Vin d’Alsace AOC ($25). From the Alsace region of France, this aromatic and versatile food wine with floral notes, orange peel, baking spices, and honey is medium bodied with nice acid.
Mark Ellis, owner of Madison Wine Company in Stockton, said an un-oaked chardonnay or sauvignon blanc is the way to go.
“There’s a popular, new style of chardonnay called ‘no oak’ chardonnay with no barrel fermentation,” he said. “It’s just real clean and fruit forward. That’s what I’d take to crab feeds. That would be the style that I would pick.”
Ellis’ pick is the 2014 Morgan Metallico Chardonnay ($22) made with fruit from the Santa Lucia Highlands, Arroyo Seco and Monterey appellations. Metallico is un-oaked and does not go through malolactic fermentation. The grapes are whole-cluster pressed, cold-tanked fermented and aged five months in stainless steel. Perfect with shellfish and light summer fare.
Randy Caporoso, sommelier and wine writer for the Lodi Winegrape Commission and other outlets, said any white wine with high, lemony acid and moderate alcohol in the 12.5 to 13.9 percent range is ideal.
Randy’s picks include the German blends by the aforementioned Markus Wine Company, as well as Borra Vineyards, Susan Tipton’s Picpoul from Acquiesce Winery, Grenache Blanc from Fields Family Wines, Bokisch Vineyards’ Garnacha Blanca and most Vermentinos, including those made by Uvaggio and Prie. These wineries are in the Lodi AVA or source fruit (Uvaggio) from Lodi and range in price from the high-teens to the high-20s.
Peter Bourget and Nancy Brazil, authors of the must-read wine blog PullThatCork.com, suggest pairing a crab feast with wines from the western Loire Valley of France. Muscadet Sevre et Maine is an appellation southeast of Nantes near the Atlantic Ocean. Its wines – comprised of Melon de Bourgogne (Muscat) – are floral, fruity, flinty and high in acid. Peter and Nancy also like sparkling wine that isn’t sweet with crab. In the sparkling wine department, Caporoso suggests the LVVR Sparking Cellars Brut ($20) or the LVVR Blanc de Blancs ($20), two outstanding sparkling wines crafted in the Methode Champenoise by Ohio transplant Eric Donaldson at Tuscan Wine Village in Lockeford. Both are dry and nutty, crisp and palate-cleansing.
Time to get cracking.