Lobster roll: impossible food-wine pairing?

lobster roll
Last week, I was in the Cape, existing more or less solely on seafood. One dish, if you will, that has transcended New England appeal and now is making a showing in the trendiest spots in NYC (including out of basements in Brooklyn) is the lobster roll.

Simple in preparation, it consists of about four ounces of cold lobster meat, a mix of claw, knuckle and often tail. This is delicately coated with mayonnaise that may include a other herbs or secret sauce and placed on a bed of shredded lettuce in a hot dog bun, sliced from the top and often lightly grilled or toasted. The end result is lip-smacking, finger licking good. (I snapped the above pic with a cameraphone at Captain Frosty’s in Dennis; it can also come with fries as is standard in the delicious rendition at Osterville Fish Too in Barnstable.)

So, even if there’s no wine on the menu at most clam shacks, the wine geek’s mind wanders…which wine would you pair with a lobster roll? Or is it…impossible?!?

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36 Responses to “Lobster roll: impossible food-wine pairing?”


  1. […] Lobster roll: impossible food-wine pairing? | Dr Vino’s wine blog. […]


  2. Tyler, I have written two articles about pairing wine with best lobster rolls in the Bay Area. In one case it was at Sam’s Chowder House in Half Moon Bay – pairing with Falanghina. And another time at the Old Port Lobsta’ Shack in Redwood City – with Champagne. I think there are ton’s of possible pairings here. Why give such an easy question :)!


  3. As a Cape Cod native, I’ll be heading home this weekend. I’ll be sure to drop by Capt. Frosty’s and experiment. I’m thinking a bottle of Vazart-Coquart Blanc de Blancs might be the call… I’m riding high on Champers after the IMW tasting earlier this week ;)


  4. Hi Tyler,
    Champagne immediately popped into my mind!


  5. BIG CLAW of course!


  6. Gary, great call on the Falanghina. Another that would go seamlessly would be a nice Arneis. I would go with Seghesio’s beautifully layered attept at this pesky grape.


  7. The lobster roll strikes me as a medium to full bodied dish and more savory with only a touch of acidic with the mayonnaise. For that I might try a young Viognier from Chile or a Semillon from Australia which are both fuller-bodied and have less acidic bent.


  8. Normally you have really hard “impossible” parings – I love this one, but I think many wines could work – although the best lobster rolls normally come from places where wine can’t be found (I’m a native New Englander who grew up with seafood treats like this).

    I’d go with a dry sparkling – more yeast/less fruit – or a viognier for this one. Perhaps I’ll bring some VA wine options with me next time I visit to try out. :-)


  9. The lobster is not the problem. Look at that bread. As someone said, a nation’s food culture is defined by bread and that sweetened, gunk of spongy rubbish says it all. Who serves bread like that these days? Surely that is the challenge. What could possibly go with that other than diet coke.


  10. I’m thinking I’d want something crisp and clean, to cut all the richness in the lobster and mayo, but not too flinty. I’d try a Spanish Albarino or California Sauv Blanc: I just tried a good one called Fritz Dry Creek Sauv Blanc.


  11. There is also a warm version with butter that I am far too fond of.

    Anyway, I’d go with champagne.


  12. Champagne is fine,
    but Chimay is better.


  13. I was going to say a nice Albarino or a Champagne, but it looks like that has already been covered. I just had the Paco y Lola Albarino this week and it was delicious! I think a lot of wines would go well with a lobster roll though. You should try the lobster roll at Arnold’s in Eastham. They are amazing!


  14. Low-alcohol, judiciously sweet Mosel Riesling Kabinett is a slam dunk with lobsta rolls.


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  16. Twitter Comment


    Many options, Sparkling, Chablis, Vouvray…damn, want one now! RT @drvino: Lobster roll: impossible food-wine pairing? [link to post]

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  17. I would go for something dry and chilled. And although a white wine certainly pairs well, why not go for rose ?
    Preferably still wine (e.g. Cotes de Provence) but if you want to go crazy, go for Rose Champagne.


  18. As a former Cape Cod resident, I object to this softball pairing question. And anyway, the ideal accompaniment to a lobster roll is a nice cold Haffenreffer Private Stock.


  19. We should be talking about the Lobster roll done with butter (ct style?, cant remember). Mayo just masks the flavor.

    The best combo I had was an Italian Pinot Grigio made with MLF. Good Acidity and minerality to play nicely with the seafood, and mlf is great with the butter.

    And of course, Champagne.


  20. Another vote for Champagne or Albarino. Had the Benitos Santos Albarino recently. Very briny.. great acid. Went well with my seafood dish.

    That lobster roll looks amazing!


  21. Like the sparkler idea, though delicacy could get mowed over by mayo. I’d go with something bright and lively but with some texture as well…Vouvray springs immediately to mind. An unoaked New World chardonnay might make sense as well.


  22. My first go-to would be a Torrontes (Crios makes a delicious one) for body weight, sweet citrus and stone fruit to play off the meat, and slightly herbaceous notes that will play off the fresh Tarragon.

    If you want a challenge, try a bottle-aged Rioja Riserva or Gran Riserva from a traditional producer. The tannins will have planed out to silkiness, and the vanillin from American Oak will do amazing things with the rich, creaminess of the dressed meat. And there will still be a rusticity to the Tempranillo that will play off other dressing ingredients.


  23. Thanks for these great thoughts! This is certainly one of those pairings that would be fun to put to the test. My first inclination was Champagne…So it’s good to see many of you had other thoughts here!

    Gary “Iron” – hit us with links!

    Chris – I’m with you, the roll is trashy!

    And to those who thought this was too much of a “softball,” where were you on the kangaroo testicles? ;-)


  24. How dull! Everyone wants to drink white with the lobster roll. (Or even more boring, beer.) Why not try a light red? Perhaps a light German pinot noir? I do like the idea of rose, too, but only on a hot day.


  25. Montrachet, of course. Montrachet goes with everything.


  26. Tyler–

    By coincidence, I was floating around Salem and Manchester Harbors on the North Shore last Friday and eating lobster rolls. Man, what a treat.

    We had two wines on the boat and some beer. The CA Sauvignon Blanc was too acidic and grassy for the mayonnaise, the richness of the lobster and “bread”. But the Chinon Rose’ was damn near perfect. Same level of acidity, but here the fruit balanced the acid and also added enough richness to make it a very near perfect fit.

    Beer was also a good idea but not a strong beer. A good Blanc de Blancs would work, but, in New England, lobster roll is a casual dish, not a formal event, and I like the idea of a bright, fruity rose’.

    As to the bread. Lobster roll is a casual dish, and while those awful hot dog buns are indeed, awful, there is something to be said for tradition.

    Out here in San Francisco, Sea Salt restaurant in Berkeley serves lobster rolls on a fancy toasted and buttered bun. To be sure, the bread is a lot better, but there is not as much lobster falling out of the bun and they charge a lot of money for it. It is the same dish, but not. Lobster roll on a rolling boat or at Captain Frosty’s has a particular cachet. Lobster roll at Brooklyn or San Francisco trendy restaurants is a “dish”, not a casual meal.

    The two things I miss most of my Boston roots are Fried Clams, try matching them with wine, and Lobster Rolls. You can’t go down to the corner food outlet in SF and get fresh lobster meat at the deli counter.


  27. my choice is Sergio an italian sparkler/cuvee from the famous Mionetto prosecco winery. It is a blend of prosecco, chardonnay, verdiso and other indigenious grapes from the Veneto. Extra dry in style and fully sparkling. The bubbles are cleansing,the flavors are delicate: a little citrus, honeyed almond, and green apple and not too yeasty. the key w. a lobster roll is good acidity with some sweet creaminess. this has acidity, fresh flavors and a little bit of weight and subtle sweetness.


  28. Obviously it’s the 2005 Coche-Dury Meursault 1er Cru Les Perrières or the 2004 if it’s prepared with celery.


  29. This past weekend I had a wonderful Falanghina when in the North End and I thought about this post.

    I think I will have to settle my internal debate by making a lobster roll and having it with both Falanghina and Arneis. What a wonderful struggle to have!


  30. OK, I definitely have to try a lobster roll. We just don’t have that sort of thing here in Arizona! Shame. I would probably pair it with a Sauvignon Blanc, nice and chilled to counter the summer heat.


  31. I would reach for something briny and mineral such as an Assyrtiko from Santorini in Greece or an Ischian white from Campania in Italy (usually a blend of Biancolella, Forastera, and Uva Rilla).


  32. I’m thinking that a Vinho Verde would be a good choice. A light effervescence with plenty of acidity to cut through the mayo. I’d also be tempted to try a Txakoli from Basque country.


  33. A wonderful Condrieu of course. The Montrachet already mentioned being a close second. And the great benefit – it doesn’t matter if there’s celery or not, so long as there aren’t too many raw shallots.


  34. I would go with a a vinho verde…casual, crisp, low alcohol, and a bit of bubbles to keep it light. Perhaps a Picpoult de Pinet for a bit more body and a bit less bubble?


  35. A crisp clean sparkling wine. I would avoid the traditional yeasty/brioche y champagnes and stick to the new world bubbles. Although a prosecco might work (I prefer drier). Having not actually eaten this specific dish one has to draw from memory of past lobster dishes. Although to type of bread may change my thoughts. Sparkling would be a safe choice.


  36. Me and boyfriend just made lobster rolls and got a nice citrusy sauvignon blanc wine, and it was great. Complemented the lobster nicely.


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