Wine and food pairing is a regular topic among consumers and wine professionals alike. This stands to reason, as wine is best consumed with food.


Although some wine professionals get carried away with elaborate recommendations – and sometimes I drift in the opposite direction following the adage “drink what you like with what you like” – I have been doing this (drinking wine, eating food and writing about it) long enough to realize that most of the time at least some care in choosing food/wine combinations pays dividends.


In the warm weather of summertime, our focus tends to be on colder and lighter foods and wines, though there are some notable exceptions (barbecue and pizza to name two). One of the first foods that comes to my mind is seafood and fish. So, I was delighted recently when I had a chance to sample several pairings with Simon Vazquez General Manager of the Boulder seafood restaurant Wild Standard.


Wild Standard has become a sustainable seafood and farm-to-table dining destination and Simon was anxious to demonstrate “the variety of whites, rosés and even reds that can elevate and add more distinction to the selection of seafood [particularly chilled seafood] flavors on your plate.” I met with him one afternoon to sample several wine combinations he had arranged with the food prepared by Wild Standard’s expert kitchen.

We began with a Kumamoto oyster (from Washington) paired with a glass of Naveran Cava, a blend of macabeo, xarello, chardonnay and paralleda, this Spanish sparkler’s high-toned fruit and brisk acidity nicely cut through the creamy, mild flavor of the Kumamotos. Simon suggested a full flavored Rosé also would go well.


A Seaside Virginia oyster was briny and sweet, which proved a nice match for an off-dry Schmitt Sohne “Relax” Riesling. He added that Champagne also is excellent with these oysters (I added that Champagne is excellent with everything.)

On to a Tuna poke and a rare Vinho Verde Rose from Nordico. It’s delicate flavors and minerality nicely accented the flavorful tuna. This tuna also would be good with a chilled light red wine like a Beaujolais-Villages, a Grenache from southern France (same as Garnacha from Spain) or a Nero d’Avola from Sicily.


Next Simon pulled off a nifty comparison of ceviche and escabeche with blended wines from Colorado’s own Jack Rabbit Hill. The ceviche (basically citrus marinated fish) tasted especially clean with the “Wild White” but that Riesling or a Gruner Veltliner from Austria would be nice here, too. The escabeche (essentially pickled vegetables or fish) needed the assertive flavors of the “Wild Red.” But I sensed it also would be quite fine with a slightly sweet Riesling.


We finished with house cold-smoked wild Alaskan King Salmon and an A to Z Pinot Noir from Oregon. While the pairing is rather obvious, it’s also obviously delicious. A light smokiness and inviting cherry flavor in the wine played well with the salmon. Still, I’d like to try an Alsatian Gewurztraminer or a Sauvignon Blanc with it sometime.

Needless to say, this tasting was just an illustration of the infinite possibilities for fish/seafood and wine pairing. And you will delight in experimenting for yourself. If you can get to Boulder, Wild Standard boasts a raw bar with shrimp, lobster tails, snow crab legs and king crab legs, in addition to oysters and a variety of sampler platters, all sourced from purveyors who support sustainable practices.


And by the way, Chef Heap also operates SALT Bistro next door to Wild Standard on Pearl Street and Colterra in Niwot.


NOTE: Photos are courtesy of Wild Standard.

About Rich

I first became interested in wine while I worked in numerous liquor stores during college in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. In the years following college, I researched, tasted, traveled to vineyards in California and Europe, participated in countless tastings. I began writing about wine in 1995 with a column in Out Front Colorado. For me, wine is more than a drink. It is food. It is a connection to the earth. It is culture. There is just something amazing, even magical, about the transformation of grapes into wine. It is also remarkable how drinking wine with food enhances the taste and enjoyment of both. Appreciation of wine has become an integral part of my approach to life, which emphasizes balance, respect for nature, physical and emotional health, and an appreciation of our nature as social beings. In 2006, I was awarded a fellowship to the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers.