Unsplash / Alexander Naglestad
Most of the places mentioned in our oyster bar roundup
will package oysters to go — shucked and tucked into ice. Be sure you drive carefully on the way home as you really don’t want to lose any of that precious liquor.
Another option is to self-shuck. (Please promise to acquire a proper shucking knife such as the one from OXO
. A reinforced glove for the non-knife hand is also a good idea.) Groomer’s Seafood offers generic East Coast oysters at $1.75 each; Gulf Blue Bands come at $12.95 a dozen. At Central Market, there are Connecticut Blue points at $1.49 each, while the Gulf variety sells for $.89. You will now want some wine, still or sparkling, to go with.
One of my favorite suppliers, Woody de Luna at Vintages 2.0 (vintages2.com
), a one-man wine brokerage that can act almost as a personal sommelier, offered the following advice for classic oyster whites: Chablis and Muscadet. Petit Chablis, a chardonnay planted in less chalky soils than Chablis without the “little” appendage, is, he says, a “remarkable value ($22 for the 2018 Domaine Louis Michel) … saline and crisp.” Among the big-C Chablis, he offers the Jean-Marc Brocard Vielles Vignes de Sainte Claire as “one of the most distinctive Chardonnays in the world”. The 2019 vintage is available at $23.99.
Muscadet Sevre et Maine comes from a region to the west of Chablis near Nantes and is made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape — yet is also has the citrus and mineral qualities that make it a good oyster companion. And it is often another genuine steal. De Luna recommends the 2018 Muscadet de Sèvre & Maine Sur Lie Domaine Michel Brégeon at $19.99.
In the realm of bubblies, and this is the holiday season after all, he suggests the Muré Crémant d’Alsace Brut. (It’s made like Champagne but not in the designated region.) It rings up at $16 and has “freshness and finesse coupled with depth of character.” On the splurgier side, he has the $47 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Cuís Premier Cru Blanc de Blanc (an all-Chardonnay Champagne) — a mouthful in every possible way. Whole Foods also might stock it, he says.
Another of my favorite wine sages, Central Market’s Heidi Holcomb Rinehart, concurs: “Anything blanc de blanc,” she says. While a brioche-like Champagne might be just the ticket in other situations, “you don’t want anything too yeasty or bready with oysters,” she says.
Holcomb Rinehart also adds Spanish Cavas to the mix, pointing to the Naveran Brut Vintage Cava at $15.99 and also the 2017 Raventos i Blanc, a Blanc de Blanc and a personal favorite of mine, at $19.99. Her splurge selections were the JM Labruyére Grand Cru Prologue at $45.95 and the Pierre Paillard Les Parcelles Bouzy Grand Cru at $39.95.
But for those taking the no-large-gathering dictum really seriously, she calls our attention to the splits: just you, a half bottle of bubbles, and a dozen (or more) oysters of your choosing. To that end, she has some American sparklers to offer: the Shramsberg Blanc de Blanc out of California for $22.99 the half bottle and even a New Mexican Gruet Brut at a mere $10.73.
At that price, you could have one Christmas Eve, another Christmas Day, another New Year’s Eve … and still another with leftover ham or turkey. By that point, you’re no longer obliged to think oysters.
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