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Wine pairing from SOMM Wines: Sea scallops shine with Chablis

Wine pairing from SOMM Wines: Sea scallops shine with Chablis
Krista Matthes is owner of SOMM Wines, located just off the square in Fairfield, Iowa. (Submitted)

Krista Matthes is owner of SOMM Wines, located just off the square in Fairfield, Iowa. Find the recipe she mentions at the bottom of this article.

With 15 years’ experience in the wine industry, there isn’t a food and wine pairing I can’t tackle. As a Las Vegas sommelier, I paired wines with a different six-course tasting menu every night for famous chefs like Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay. Who knew my toughest critic would be my 6-year-old daughter? Getting her out of bed, dressed, and to school on time … brutal. Perhaps I should stick to what I know best.

At my wine store, SOMM Wines in Fairfield, Iowa, I love giving my guests expert advice on wine selections and pairings. Each interaction feels like putting together the pieces of a giant puzzle. I know more about their preferences, and they learn to trust my wine advice a little more.

The most important decision I make in any wine pairing is whether to match flavor for flavor to compliment the dominant ingredients or select a wine with opposing tastes. Consider spicy Thai food and a sweet Riesling: the residual sugar of a Riesling counteracts the heat of a spicier dish, making each bite more enjoyable. Opposites can attract, which certainly explains my marriage! (I’m the spicy one, if you’re wondering.)

The sea scallop recipe featured today uses butter as its main ingredient in preparation. Butter can be a domineering flavor, so I want to select a complimentary wine, not opposing. Traditionally, one varietal goes best with cream and butter: Chardonnay. Flavors of baked apple, ripe pear and citrus can be found in most; however, some producers include more intense notes of brioche and custard. For this recipe, the SCALLOPS are really the deciding factor in narrowing down my selection. One Chardonnay region in particular matches the oceanic influence of the scallops, having been underwater millions of years ago: CHABLIS.

Chablis, the northernmost wine district in Burgundy, France, lies above prehistoric beds of chalk, oyster shells and clay soil. It is a cooler climate than other Chardonnay-producing areas, allowing the wine’s acidity to shine and the fruit to remain more understated in the glass. There is an unmistakable subtlety and marine quality, further benefited by use of little or no oak in the fermentation process. Make no mistake, wines from Chablis are not simple. There is an honesty or clarity to them, which allows the minerality and acidity to cut through the rich textures and flavors of the buttered sea scallops.

Here at SOMM Wines, we carry many different Chablis bottlings, but the clear winner for me is the Domaine Fourrey, “Vaillons,” Chablis Premier Cru 2019 ($38.99). It boasts classic Chablis notes of chalk, minerality and green apple, but with an added zest of lemon tartness. Love squeezing lemon juice over seafood? Consider this a more enjoyable way to add that last dash of flavor directly into your mouth!

With a little wine knowledge, and the help of a professional sommelier (yours truly), you can dine like you’re in a Parisian restaurant, without the price of airfare.

SOMM Wines:

Address: 102 E Briggs Ave., Fairfield, Iowa

Phone: 702-528-8101

Online: sommwines.net

Recipe

BUTTERY SEA SCALLOPS

Serves 4

With its warm, nutty flavor, brown butter makes these soft, plump bivalves even more succulent.

Consider odor, color and luster when shopping for scallops. They should smell mildly sweet and never fishy, with a pale pink to light beige hue and a glistening sheen.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

12 to 16 sea scallops

Sea salt, to taste

Ground black pepper, to taste

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once butter has melted, start swirling the pan over heat. During this time the butter will foam and then slowly settle, 4 to 5 minutes.

Continue cooking and swirling the pan for another 2 to 3 minutes. Once butter turns golden in color and brown specks begin to form, remove pan from heat and set aside.

Season scallops with salt and pepper.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in large frying or saute pan over medium heat. Once butter has begun to bubble, add scallops.

Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until bottom has browned. Using a thin spatula or fish turner (I used my fingers and a fork), gently turn scallops and cook until other side is brown. Remove scallops from pan, place on a large plate and cover with a heatproof lid.

Reheat brown butter over medium heat for about 30 seconds.

Place equal amounts of scallops on four dinner plates. Drizzle brown butter over the scallops and serve immediately.

Source: “Luscious, Tender, Juicy” by Kathy Hunt