Although Champagne may be the classic pairing for oysters (and there is certainly nothing wrong with that), next time try pairing your oysters or other seafood with Viognier-- an intensely aromatic grape that combines aspects of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling.
In her book The Wine Bible, Karen MacNeil describes Viognier (pronouned vee-ohn-yay) as "Chardonnay's ravishing, exotic sister." A grape that is less well known than the more common white grapes, Viognier first found success in the Rhone Valley in the Southeast of France.
Thankfully, though, you no longer have to seek out bottles from France to get an idea of how tasty this grape can be - this Viognier from Desert Wind Winery in Washington or this one from Lucas & Lewellen in Southern California are both great examples of Viognier wine. Good Viognier is crisp and refreshing, but has a more creamy texture than Sauvignon Blanc, and smells and tastes more like flowers and honey than Chardonnay. Although Viognier is rarely as sweet as Riesling, many Riesling lovers become Viognier fans after they realize that that floral / honey quality makes Viognier taste a bit sweeter than it actually is.
Because of its unique flavor profile, Viognier is actually a very food-friendly wine, making it a great choice when contemplating a difficult wine pairing. In addition to the oysters mentioned above, some other good pairings include lobster or crab; butter or cream based sauces or dishes; curries; Asian and Indian food in general; and roasted nuts.
If you're not familiar with Viognier, you owe it to yourself to give it a try, and the approach of summer is the perfect excuse.
By Pooneet Kant