For clear clam chowders, such as a Connecticut- style clam chowder, crip white wines like Pinot Grigio, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Blanc are your best pairs. Richer and creamier Clam Chowders require full-bodied white wines like an oaked Chardonnay or a rich Viognier. Finally, tomato-based clam chowders, a fruity but slightly earthy Beaujolais-Villages, Pinot Noir, Chianti or a Rosé
Connecticut Clam Chowder & Pinot Grigio Pairing
Connecticut style clam chowder refers to a clam chowder with a clear broth. You may also see it as Rhode Island clam chowder in cookbooks or under various other guises. Essentially, it’s a clam chowder that gets its richness by potato starch, and not cream.
An Italian Pinot Grigio is dry and crisp with acidity to stand up to the flavourful clam chowder broth. Pinot Grigio also has a touch of fruitiness, which offsets the fishy chowder taste, and comes across as refreshing against the saltiness of the chowder.
Another fun pairing is an Albarino and Clam Chowder. Albarino has fresh notes of herbs and grapefruit on the finish. This grapefruit tang complements and accentuates the clam flavours in the chowder.
New England Clam Chowder & Chardonnay Pairing
New England Clam Chowder is a rich chowder thickened by milk or cream, you’ll also see this style called Boston Clam Chowder. Creamy clam chowder is the style most people (outside of the eastern seaboard) associate with clam chowder.
An Oaked Chardonnay with a hint of tropical fruit is the best. An oaked Chardonnay has a buttery mouthfeel to it that matches the creamy nature of the chowder itself. On top of that, the tropical fruit flavours of the wine act as a nice counterpoint to the seafood flavours found in the chowder.
Lots of people also suggest Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc with creamy clam chowder. Those will go fine, provided the chowder isn’t overly creamy. For some people, milk and cream can make wines taste sour. Acidic wines like Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc also run the risk of curdling the milk or cream in your mouth, which might attribute to the souring effect.
Boston Clam Chowder & Viognier Pairing
Boston Clam Chowder is made in a similar style to New England Clam Chowder in that it uses dairy to thicken up the broth. An oaked Viognier works with this style of Clam Chowder as it will have a rich and creamy body that will complement the weight of Clam Chowder’s richness. Viognier, while not incredibly acidic, will have enough acidity to cut through the creamy clam chowder to keep your palate refreshed. Meanwhile, the peach, tangerine, and mango flavours, along with vanilla notes, nutmeg and flowers, keep your mouth refreshed and intrigued.
Manhattan Clam Chowder & Beaujolais Pairing
Manhattan Clam Chowder refers to a style of Clam Chowder that contains tomatoes or tomato paste to thicken up the broth. The acidity in the tomato and the tang of the clam juices make for a savoury chowder. Because Manhattan Clam Chowder has this acidic tang, you’ll require a red wine that is low in tannin and high in acidity, or else the wine will come off as flat and taste tinny. Beaujolais, with its light and fruity flavours, fits this style of red wine perfectly.
I prefer a Beaujolais Villages, which will have slightly more complex and earthier flavours than your standard Beaujolais. I find these earthy notes sing with any potatoes or leeks added to the Clam Chowder.
Manhattan Clam Chowder & Pinot Noir Pairing
Pinot Noir is a light and fruity red wine with plenty of acidity to deal with the acidic tomato sauce found in a Manhattan Clam Chowder. Pinot Noir also has earthy flavours, which are subtle but adored by many. These earthy flavours will complement any diced up potatoes that are in your clam chowder as well as adding complexity to the pairing.