On Hilton Head Island, we love our shrimp! Our fresh local shrimp are some of the tastiest in the country, so choosing the perfect wine companion is key. While shrimp’s unique texture and delicate flavor must be respected, it is more versatile when it comes to wine pairing than most other seafood or shellfish. Shrimp can be prepared in a myriad of ways, so preparation really is the key to the perfect wine selection.
Classic Lowcountry shrimp and grits, is the first meal that comes to mind. However, almost no two chefs prepare the dish the same way. For a mildly spiced version that is all about the cheesy grits, try a Spanish Albariño. A spicier variety with spicy Cajun sausage and peppers needs a bolder wine, such as a Gewürztraminer or a German Riesling. The strong fruity and floral flavors of these wines will take the dish to a new level.
Another favorite among Islanders and visitors is the simple but mouth watering golden fried shrimp. Just like a squeeze of lemon or a dip in a spicy cocktail sauce, a bold and citrusy Sauvignon Blanc would be the perfect mate. Try one from Australia or New Zealand.
Garlic loves white wine, so if you are having a scampi or any other shrimp dish with garlic and butter, choose anything but a big oaky chardonnay. Now, a creamy shrimp and pasta dish can pair well with a lightly oaked chardonnay, especially if the dish contains cheese. If red sauce is involved, you can even venture into a dry rosé or even a light Pinot Noir from a cold climate like Washington State.
If you like spicy and flavorful shrimp dishes such as in Asian curries, stick to a fruity Pinot Grigio from Washington or Oregon. A semi-dry Riesling or a Viognier will be most enjoyable selections as well. Complex fruity and floral wines such as these really add nice complimentary notes to heavier spiced curry dishes.
While there are so many different ways to prepare shrimp, our sweet and flavorful local shrimp is at its best when most simply prepared – perfectly steamed in the shell and served either hot or cold. The wine must allow the delicious subtle flavor of the shrimp to shine, so the wine must be dry and neutral. A classic Pinot Grigio from Italy will be a fantastic accent without overpowering the wine. But I must say, on a hot summer day nothing beats bubbles. A cold bottle of dry or extra dry Champagne would be perfect.
The perfect bottle of wine awaits at Island Winery on Cardinal Road. Store and tasting hours are Monday-Saturday from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Wine Flights and Cheese are available from Monday-Friday, 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., and Saturday from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. A Wine & Cheese Happy Hour is offered Monday-Friday starting at 4 p.m. For more information, call (843) 842-3141 or go to islandwinery.com.