Foolproof Wine Pairings for Dungeness Crab Legs


Cooking + Recipes

What to Drink While You Snap & Eat

Our Dungeness crab legs are wild-caught, pre-cooked and ready to eat. So, it’s only fitting that we point you in the right direction for wines to uncork and drink with your “Dungies.” 

When pairing wines with Dungeness crab legs, you’ll generally want to observe the rules of pairing wines with any variety seafood: lean toward whites, rosés, non-red sparkling bottles and even lighter reds; choose wines low in tannins, since tannins can make seafood taste metallic; and make sure it’s something that you can drink at least slightly chilled. 

But Dungeness crab meat has uniquely delectable qualities that set it apart from other wild-caught Alaskan varieties of seafood. Briny and a little sweet, meaty morsels of Dungeness crab meat are often enjoyed with a wide variety of dipping sauces. This means you’ll want to choose a wine that complements the not-too-delicate qualities of the crabmeat itself, as well as the flavors of any dips or sauces you’re serving alongside your crab legs.

Here are Dungeness crab pairings with price points around $20-$25 to keep you snapping and sipping through the rest of the summer.

Sparkling Wines

Let’s start with sparkling wine. While champagne might come to mind as a possible pairing, these lovely sparklers tend to have bread-like flavor profiles that compete with the flavor of Dungeness. 

Instead of champagne, opt for a fresh, crisp Spanish cava like a bottle of Suriol Azimut Cava Brut Nature, made from a classic blend of Macabeo, Xarel-lo, and Parellada grapes. Cavas are affordable, easy drinkers, making them a great bottle to serve with a laid-back spread of piping hot crab legs and practically any dip you set out. 

If chilled crab meat is your thing, a bottle of sparkling rosé is a great alternative to a sparkling white. With the aroma of fresh berries and a bit of minerality, an off-dry Beaujolais pét-nat like Terres Dorées has enough character to complement an unfussy snack of chilled crab legs. Made from Gamay grapes, a go-to red wine variety to pair with seafood, it’s low in tannins for smooth drinking. And at 12% ABV, this pét-nat is low enough in alcohol that you can sip leisurely without rushing onto your next course.

White and Rosé Wines

White wines are going to give you the most latitude with Dungeness crab legs, so you’ll really want to try matching up your bottle to your dips and sauces to get the most out of your pairing.

Grown in the volcanic soils of Mt. Etna, Carricante is a seafood-friendly white known for its salinity and acidity. Destro’s bottle of Carricante is a particularly savory bottle with lemony, floral notes that enhance the sweetness of Dungeness. This is a bottle you’d want to serve with a fresh, mayo-free crab salad. A rosé like Long Island’s Wölffer Estate Rosé also has a refreshing salinity that would pair well with this type of Dungeness dish.

As an alternative, look for a Chilean bottle of Escándalo Sémillon, a crisp, minerally white that would go really nicely with a grapefruit-avocado-crab salad. Or if you prefer a richer white, try a Vermentino di Sardegna like Is Agriolas.

But let’s say you’ve just set out a plate of steamed crab legs with a side of clarified butter or aioli. Rather than opting for a white wine where acidity is one of the dominant characteristics, an Old World Burgundian Chardonnay like Viré-Clessé Vieilles Vignes’s Chazelle is the way to go. Its measured buttery profile matches the richness of creamier, fattier preparations of Dungeness. Even a New World Chardonnay can work well if they’re not overly oaky. Australia’s bottle of Long Road from Eden Road is excellent alongside crab legs dripping in butter. 

Red Wines

When pairing Dungeness with red wines, you’ll also want to match up the bottle to the sauce or dip. But unlike with white wines, your options are quite a bit more limited since, to reiterate, you’ll want to steer toward chillable, lighter reds with soft tannins.

A bottle of Sicilian Frappato, like Valle dell’Acate’s Il Frappato, is freshly acidic with a note of red berries, a pairing that complements Dungeness when you’re in the mood for spicier dips and sauces — especially red, tomato-based ones or cocktail sauces. For a domestic bottle (which,  at a price between $35-$40, is the most expensive one on this list), try a pinot noir from Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Kelley Fox’s bottle of Mirabai is light but savory and zesty enough to hold up to spice.

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