Crab legs pair best with Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Champagne, Muscadet, and Pinot Gris. A dry Rosé also works nice with Crab Legs as it has just enough sweetness to work with the saltiness of the Crab.
Best Wine with Crab Legs
Chardonnay & Crab Legs Pairing
Crab legs are often served warm with melted butter, and thus a rich and buttery Chardonnay complements the buttery crab leg flavours. Not everyone is a fan of buttery Chardonnay, but this style of Chardonnay is fairly popular. Oak is what gives Chardonnay its buttery taste, and for this pairing to live up to its 5-star holy grail of parings, you want to find a Chardonnay that isn’t extremely oaked. These styles of Chardonnay, when mass produced, tend to taste like rancid buttered popcorn and artificial vanilla, drowning the delicate crab meat flavours.
Instead, I’d suggest you seek out a White Burgundy, which is a French style of Chardonnay. White Burgundy is based on centuries of tradition and always strikes the perfect chord of oak. If French wine confuses you, find a Chardonnay from California that fits the bill. You want something full-bodied and rich in the $18-$35 range where the wine has been aged in oak casks. Anything less, and you run the risk of cheap wine production where oak chips are used to flavour the wine artificially.
Chardonnay also has notes of apple, peach, pineapple and lemon, which help cut through the noise of the butter, and allows those delicate crab flavours to rise to the top.
In the chart below, I gave Burgundy a lower score than Chardonnay as it is often pricier in North America and a little more confusing if you are new to the world of wine. With that said, many Burgundy whites will be a perfect pairing with Crab Legs.
Alaskan King Crab Legs and Champagne Pairing
If you want to live and eat like a king, there’s no better way to do so than feast on Alaskan King Crab Legs and a bottle of Champagne. There is good valued Champagne on the market, but you’ll probably want to spend somewhere between $30-$70 for a better experience. Look for Champagne – Blanc De Blancs, which is made from Chardonnay grapes.
The bubbles of Champagne help cut through the melted butter drizzled upon your Crab Legs, keeping your taste buds clean. Meanwhile the yeasty and toasty flavours of Champagne complement the butter. With Champagne, you’ll also get refreshing flavours of citrus, peach, apricot, pear and apple that mingle perfectly with the sweet crab meat. Chalk, smoke and mineral round-up Champagne’s flavours, and these additional notes complement the salty sea-kissed flavours of Crab.
If Champagne is out of your budget, go with Prosecco, which is an Italian Sparkling wine. Most people assume any sparkling wine is called Champagne, and Prosecco offers fantastic quality for the price. You won’t get the bready flavours of Champagne, but the lime, lemon and peach notes of Champagne will be present and will keep your mouth refreshed.
Off-Dry Riesling & Crab Legs Pairing
An off-dry Riesling has a smidge of residual sugar that makes it taste slightly sweet without making your cavity fillings ring out in pain. I often compare it to alcoholic lemonade, but not those hard lemonade coolers which are saturated in sugar. Off-Dry Riesling is more like fresh lemonade made at home, where you’ve added the perfect amount of sugar and don’t make a sour face where you stick out your tongue and thrash it about.
Germany is known for producing beautiful Riesling, however, if you live in North America, you’ll find exceptional Riesling from Washington, NY State, and Ontario, Canada. Look for the word off-dry if you want a hint of sugar and dry if you like your wine crisp and acidic.
On top of lemon, you’ll get lots of lime, apricot, peach, honey, mango and green apple flavours, which will waltz about on the tip of your tongue, tempting you to sip away as you eat. Riesling also has a mineral quality that makes it essential with seafood as it matches that salty but subtle flavour of the crab meat.
Muscadet & King Crab Legs Pairing
Muscadet is a white French wine that is light, crisp and slightly mineral/saline with a salty kiss on the finish. The saltiness aspect is fantastic with seafood, such as Crab Legs. Furthermore, the apple, lemon, lime and pear flavours of Muscadet are refreshing and lift up the delicate crab meat flavours.
Sauvignon Blanc & Crab Legs Pairing
Sauvignon Blanc is excellent with Crab legs that are served with a garlic sauce or garlic butter. Dry in body, Sauvignon Blanc is racy with zippy lemon, lime and grapefruit flavours. What makes Sauvignon Blanc go great with a garlic sauce is that the wine also has herbaceous notes of grass or green herbs. These herbaceous notes complement the tangy but sharp garlic sauce, while the acidic citrus notes keep your mouth refreshed in between bites.
My favourite style of Sauvignon Blanc with Crab Legs would either be a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand or a Sancerre from France. Sancerre has additional notes of mineral and chalk that many describe as gunflint. I find this mineral note harmonizes perfectly with the ocean served crab meat.