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Like wine for oysters

April 27, 2010 |  6:00 am

OystersWhich wine goes best with oysters? You might well be tempted to answer “Who cares? As long as there are oysters.” And to a great extent, I would agree with you. But as was demonstrated again last week at the 2010 Pacific Coast Oyster Wine Competition, there are some wines that do complement that beloved bivalve better than others.

The annual competition is the brainchild of Jon Rowley, the marketing wiz who practically invented Copper River salmon. Every year he gathers oyster lovers in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles to sip and slurp and score, rating wines not on their intrinsic quality, but on how well they go with oysters.

Given that the traditional pairing is a sharp, acidic Muscadet, you probably won’t be shocked to find that in general, the simpler the wine, the better. Rowley refers to the competition as a "dating service" for wine and oysters. Turn-offs, then, would be oak and high alcohol, while turn-ons would include clean fruit and a tart finish.

This year’s 10 best included some old favorites as well as some new finds. Wines such as the Sauvignon Blancs from Chateau Ste. Michelle and Kunde seem to show well every year, and the Columbia Winery and King Estate Pinot Gris have won before as well. New winners include Pinot Gris from Acrobat and  Anne Amie, Sauvignon Blancs from CMS, Franciscan and Heitz Wine Cellars and a Muller-Thurgau from Anne Amie.

Of the top 10 wines, four are from Oregon and three each are from Washington and California.

-- Russ Parsons

Photo: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times