Best Wine with Crab Cakes: Dry White Zinfandel

Best Crab Cakes Recipe
Pair these delicious crab cakes with the Halleck Vineyard "Not Your Mother's" Dry White Zinfandel.

If you’re searching for the best wine with crab cakes, you’ve come to the right place. This Dry White Zinfandel (actually a Rosé) is complex, sophisticated, and refined. And it pairs perfectly with this crab cake recipe. It’s rare to find a food and wine pairing this good. The crab cake recipe is simple, yet elegant. This pairing will undoubtedly earn you the respect of the most seasoned sommelier. 

This “Best-Ever Crab Cake” recipe was created by MeganVt01 and published at Food 52. It presents intricate flavors as you bite through the crisp exterior to get to the soft, delicate, sweet center. A dash of hot sauce adds dimension and depth. Fresh herbs explode on the palate. A rich, creamy aioli adds sweetness. With the right wine, this food and wine pairing is an utter delight.

Halleck Vineyard Dry White Zinfandel from the Russian River Valley in California
Halleck Vineyard Dry White Zinfandel from the Russian River Valley in California, 2021 Vintage

That wine is the Halleck Vineyard 2021 “Not Your Mother’s” Dry White Zinfandel. This complex wine is light-bodied and offers a variety of nuances, including dried herbs, rich berry fruit, and delicate floral notes, in addition to a minerality on the mid-palate. 

The Zin is well-balanced, structured, and elegant. It is a refreshing wine with bright acidity. Produced in the Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, this Dry White Zin is bright, fresh, and smooth. It is 100% Dry White Zinfandel. What that means is that nothing is added. This Zin has notes of stone fruit, white nectarine, white peach, a touch of maraschino cherries, and a touch of apricot. There are some bright white flowers on the nose. It is produced using the Provence Method, which gives it somewhat of a creamy texture which is reflected in the aioli. 

The dried herb nuances complement the fresh herbs in the crab cakes. The expressive nose is full of a mesmerizing blend of floral notes and delicate fruit. These aromas match and complement the sweetness and delicate nature of the crab meat. 

This wine is an acid-driven version of the classical Dry White Zinfandel. It features a bright, crisp acidity that cuts through the rich, creamy aioli sauce, which Jennifer also highlighted. “Aioli was an obvious choice in this pairing. The acidity cleanses the palate for the next bite,” says Jennifer LaRue, who, together with her husband Brad, served the pairing at a recent wine dinner event. The Zin leaves a refreshing finish that lingers with floral notes. 

Jennifer LaRue, an Inner Circle Wine Club member, hosted the dinner for friends in her Colorado Springs home. Winemaker Jennifer Halleck poured the chosen wine. 

“From my experience with food pairings, I know that Dry White Zinfandel is great to pair with crab meat. The key for me was to create a balance between the delicate crab meat and the mineral leanness of the wine. The two flavors combine beautifully and neither one overpowers the other,” said Jennifer LaRue.

Any sommelier worth their salt will tell you it’s better to pair the wine with the sauce, not the meat. LaRue opted to add aioli instead of tartar sauce, as called for by the original recipe. It’s this minor change that elevated the dish and married the flavors and aromas between the wine and the crab cakes so perfectly. 

You may be wondering: is the white Zinfandel dry or sweet? The 2021 “Not Your Mother’s” Dry White Zinfandel is a dry wine with a lower alcohol content compared to the slightly higher Sutter Home White Zinfandel alcohol content, which is a sweeter White Zinfandel. 

Halleck Vineyard Inner Circle Wine Club often cohosts these dinners in members’ homes. The idea is to introduce members’ friends and fellow wine lovers from outside the Sonoma Valley area to Halleck Vineyard wines and wine pairings, such as the Sonoma Coast Hillside Pinot Noir, a wine that pairs perfectly with Duck Confit.


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