Spaghetti all’astice from Ristorante ContiSpaghetti all’astice from Ristorante Conti

Why Chardonnay pairs so well with buttery sauces

If the lobster at Ristorante Conti, served with spaghetti and a buttery shellfish sauce, could choose a wine partner, it would opt for Chardonnay.

Just as you get an onscreen chemistry between film stars, some wines simply belong with certain dishes. One combination that guarantees a happy ending is Chardonnay and butter. This will come as no surprise to fans of spaghetti all’astice, the house speciality of our Ristorante Conti at the Zurich Opera House. Why does this pairing work so well? For two good reasons.

1. The winemaking process

White wine by its very nature has a high acidity. However, if you bring the wine to a specific temperature after fermentation, lactobacilli become active, much like what happens in yoghurt.

These bacteria are present in every wine, but they only take effect in the right conditions, softening the acidity in a completely natural process known as malolactic fermentation. This has two effects: firstly, the wine becomes noticeably softer on the palate. Secondly, this process gives rise to buttery aromas. Chardonnay is particularly well suited to this style of winemaking.

As a result, most wines made from this grape variety offer buttery notes in the glass. It’s a well-known fact that similar flavours pair together beautifully. No wonder, then, that these wines complement butter and cream sauces so well.

2. The barrel ageing process

Almost all the great Chardonnays are aged in wooden barrels. The cooper has previously burnt them from the inside in a process known as «toasting».

What happens here?

The wood generates roasted, spicy notes such as vanilla, cloves and even toasted bread. During the ageing process, these aromas are transferred to the wine. This explains why many Chardonnays have such irresistible flavours reminiscent of freshly toasted bread or brioche. And what equals toast plus butter? Exactly: A treat for the taste buds!

One last tip:

A grand Chardonnay is a thing of beauty – especially when it has been crafted by a true expert. So don’t hesitate to invest in a more expensive bottle.

«Spaghetti all’astice – a real culinary delight. Especially when paired with the right white wine!»

Signature Lucien GobetSignature Lucien Gobet
Lucien Gobet, Director of Vinoteca Zürich & Event ManagerLucien Gobet, Director of Vinoteca Zürich & Event Manager

Lucien Gobet
Director of Vinoteca Zürich & Event Manager

The classic

«The classic with lobster: a mellow Chardonnay with elegant vanilla notes. Exciting: This example from Puglia contains ten per cent of the traditional Fiano grape.»

The festive choice

«A tip for connoisseurs: the noble fruit, the mildly nutty aromas and the creamy perlage of this vintage Champagne blend perfectly with the king of crustaceans.»

The surprising choice

«A firework of fruit from the island of Vulcano! This pairs with the lobster to create a truly exciting combination. My recommendation: serve this red wine slightly chilled.»