Wine & Food

Snooth User: JenniferT

Ideas for a tasting/dinner with lobster thermidor?

Posted by JenniferT, May 15, 2013.

Hi Guys:

In my ongoing saga of trying to learn how to cook, I'm planning on giving lobster thermidor a whirl soon. I'd like to pair it with 2-3 wines, mostly as a pairing experiment to see which works best. Any ideas? I was thinking I could potentially combine the dinner with the vintage VS NV champagne combo I've been meaning to do...other ideas might be a white burgundy, chablis, chardonnay......

I don't know how much lobster thermidor recipes vary, but here's the one I was thinking about making:



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Reply by Welkja, May 15, 2013.


Because the the lobster has cream, gruyere , etc. it will be rich. I would try three different big Chardonnays,

maybe 2 white Burgundies, and a California Chardonnay. They need to have the power to compliment the power of the sauce. God luck with your dinner.


Reply by EMark, May 15, 2013.

Jennifer, I will probably cause more confusion than assistance.  Sorry.

I am in agreement with WELKJA's suggestion of a big Chardonnay.  However, recently I have been tasting white wines made from grapes that are associated with the Rhone.  Last night I had a Stolpman La Coppa Blanc.  This wine is from California's Santa Ynez Valley and is 70% Roussanne and 30% Viognier.  Although it is in the smaller portion, the Viognier dominates the sensual experience of this wine.  So, it has a lot of flowery and tropical fruity stuff, very good acid and, even, some spicy things going on there.  I think that it would work with the richness of your sauce and with the sweet characteristic of the lobster.  I am not much of a Viognier fan--there is too much of the flowery, spicy thing going on there in a varietal bottling--but this blend with the Roussane hit the spot for me.  I had it with grilled halibut that was very simple compared to your planned meal, but I was all over it.

The chances of you finding the Stolpman are pretty slim, but I would encourage you to consider a Rhone blend that has a Viognier component.  Unfortunately, I am pretty ignorant on Rhone wines and am unable to point you to any French examples, but maybe another Snoother out there can help me out.

Reply by duncan 906, May 15, 2013.

White Burgundy is the best choice but try to go for one that is not too dry and austere.I would go for the 'buttery' ones that have been oaked and have a bit of body to them. I can recomend the Blason de Bourgogne Montagny Vielles Vignes 2009

Reply by JenniferT, May 15, 2013.

Thanks - the best I can usually do shopping here in Canada is to get something that might mimic the specific examples you guys suggest.  At least I can still look for substitute wines that have the same properties....but that certainly doesn't make your specific suggestions any less helpful.

I do try to pick out wines that will help my boyfriend learn what different wines taste like (he is getting ready for a blind tasting exam)....along with classic foods/pairing. I've been learning about wine in the process (and cooking, albeit to a lesser degree.) It turns out that wine tasting is much more fun than learning to cook.....go figure. And that's not even considering the potentially epic battle of me vs live lobsters :)

I know for pairing you can try to match wines that have similar elements to the food...or go in the opposite direction and get wines that offer pleasant contrasts (e.g. bright acidic wines to cut richer foods, etc). I might  take both approaches with my wines as part of this lobster experiment.

I won't be taking this dinner on for at least a few days, so I have some time to work out some options. I can check to see what I have in our cellar at home too. I'll let you guys know my picks beforehand!

Reply by EMark, May 15, 2013.

Jennifer, I am going to throw out a suggestion to the community and ask for feedback.  Does anybody think a German Riesling would work with Jennifer's meal?  I'm thinking that maybe even an Auslese level of sugar would be fun and interesting.


Another topic in response to your comment of the lower fun factor in learning to cook.

I looked at the recipe you are using and I have to wonder about some things.  I am not a chef.  So, Eric Guido, please feel free to jump in here and give your professional input.

  • The ingredient deck is a mile long.  I know that it is common to have pages of ingredients, but I feel that as a rule most of them have multiple ingredients that nobody will ever miss.  I'll pontificate on this more, below.
  • "Kosher or sea salt."  OK it seems like the recipe fad of the last year or so has been to specify Kosher salt.  Why not plain old iodized salt from the blue container?  With lobster we know for darned sure that this has nothing to do with the laws of Kashrut. 

    So, are Kosher salt and Sea salt interchangeable? 

    Down in the method section I see two references to the salt.  First, you are going to boil these lobsters in salted water.  My first question is do you really have to add salt to boiling lobsters who have lived in salty water all their lives?  The next obvious question is if it is just going to be boiled in water, why the fuss about it being sea salt or kosher salt or, heck, Himalayan salt?  It's not going to taste any different. 

    The next reference in the method is to "salt to taste" when preparing the broth.  OK, if it's to taste, and it's a broth that has 6 or 7 other ingredients in it, what the heck difference does it make what salt is used?
  • Back to the ingredients, they specify "2 cups of dry white wine, preferably the wine you will serve for dinner."  What a crock.  Again, you're going to boil the heck out of this wine.  Don't use two cups of $40 per bottle white Burgundy that you plan to serve.  Use something like Kenwood's Vintage White for about $6-$7 per bottle.  The rule of thumb is to never use a wine for cooking that you wouldn't drink.  That is a reasonable rule.  Believe me the Kenwood is emminently drinkable.  The fact of the matter is that most of us do not drink $40/bottle wines every day.  Oh yes, and I assume that you do know that you never use that stuff that they sell in the markets called "cooking wine."  It has salt added.  Do not use it in your recipes.  (You choose, drink the Burgundy while you're cooking or drink the Kenwood.)
  • The 5 cloves of garlic sounds light to me.  Only 5 cloves?  What if there are vampires in the neighborhood?

    Sorry, Jennifer, but I have never had any dish of any kind that has too much garlic.  ;-)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried red pepper flakes.  Gosh, that doesn't seem like very much.  Look down at the bottom where it has "Cayenne pepper to taste."  So, we have two different ingredients that I would assume are there to add some spicy heat. 

    The 1/4 tsp of dried red pepper flakes is used in the broth preparation along with 3 qts of water 1 cup of the wine, the liquid from the canned tomatoes--and the tomatoes--and a bunch of other dry ingredients.  This is simmered for at least an hour.  I can tell you that the heat (and whatever flavor) from that 1/4 tsp of dried red pepper flakes will pretty much be simmered to nothingness.  No wonder at the very end you have to add "cayenne pepper to taste."
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads (optional).  Considering that the price per ounce of saffron rivals that of platinum, I'm glad to see that this is not required.
  • 1 large egg yolk.  OK, I know I'm getting silly here, but I have never heard of egg yolks being sized.  I assume that what they mean is the yolk of 1 large egg.  You don't have to crack open all the eggs from a carton into a bowl and look for a yolk that is "large," not "medium," but, also, not "extra large."

Recipes are not chiseled on tablets and passed to us from some high diety.  Feel free to adjust and add your own ideas.

However, Jennifer, let me tell what I love about this recipe.  You can prepare the different components over the course of a few days.  I really think that will allow you to "bite off only what you can chew."  It will also allow you to have multiple glasses of wine for you to test as possible candidates for the accompaniment for what I am sure will be a terrific dinner.

We very much look forward to hearing more about this dinner.  Thank you very much for sharing.



Reply by dimsum4sum1, May 15, 2013.

Duncan actually hit it on the mark.  For dishes like lobster or salmon that has a creamy white sauce, you would go with a buttery chardonnay either Napa or Russian River. Don't know if it has to be "big" and "rich" chardonnays because I was taught, it's either about the wine or about the food.

German Rieslings work better with spicy foods like buffalo wings and cajun. Sugar washes away the spicyness like a chalk and an eraser....seriously.  The spice just dissappears. Dessert wines work even better because it's much sweeter.

Don't know which part of Canada you're in, but if you're in the eastern part why not try a New York Chardonnay say from Lamoreaux Landing (nice line particularly the chard and rieslings). Not expensive at all, but quality.

Then you can try a "big, rich" CA chard afterwards (send us notes please)

Don't know what a VS champagne stand for, but since champagnes are light you can start that before dinner or with your apps (not the smartphone kind...haha). You could finish dinner with champagne too, but the champagne might be a bit flatter plus, I'd rather sit down on a couch enjoying the glass "big, rich" chard dreaming of a San Francisco breeze.

Reply by malcris, May 16, 2013.

Traditionally speaking all of the above entries will be fine.  Without having tasted your recipe I can only guess what the finished product will be like given your ingredient list.  I have personally had the above recipe but Jasper cooked it and every preparation will be a bit different so I'll offer some good general guidelines as well as a few wines I would pair.  Also, before I digress, I can't stress how much the venue will change the dynamic of the pairing.  For example, if you were serving this outdoors seaside on a hot summer day I would stay away from the heavy buttery chardonnay's and lean toward a wine with a bit more acidity and salinity.  If you are serving this in an air conditioned dining room then bring on the butter... Here's a couple of quick tips.

If the flavours of your dish are complex keep the wine simple. If the flavours of your dish are simple its time for the complex wines.  

If the sauce with your dish is rich, you'll need a wine with good richness so as not to get overshadowed or overpowered.

If the sauce is light, go with a lighter wine.

The lobster you mentioned is a fairly complex dish with a rich sauce hence the above comments recommending a rich Chardonnay or a blanc de noir Champagne (made from pinot noir).  The important thing to remember is to find a wine with good acidity to compliment the richness of the sauce.  I'll recommend coastal California chardonnay because of better acid structure, due to cooler climate, and the possibility of salinity in the wine which will compliment your dish perfectly.

Here's my recommendations 

White:  Russian River or Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, Southern Burgundy whites

Rodney Strong, Evening Land, Flowers, Martinelli, Goisot Bourgogne, Faively Bourgogne, Laflaive Bourgogne

Red:  Santa Rita Hills CA, Williamette Oregon or Burgundian pinot noir (fruit driven with structure)

Tally vineyards,  Brewer Clifton/Melville, Archery Summit, AtoZ, Mercurey or Bourgogne Rouge

Blanc de Noir Champagne or a nice Cremant from a good producer (avoid the big brands due to overproduction)

Beaujolais  Cru wines (not the nouveau crap)  For more advanced wine drinkers.  these wines will have good acidity and fruit with hints of clove or allspice and good tannin.  I'd serve this wine cool, not cold on a nice warm summer day.  Be sure to get one that's at least 5 yrs old otherwise the tannin may be too much for your lobster.

Reply by duncan 906, May 16, 2013.

I do not think a red would work well.After all Lobster is seafood

Reply by JenniferT, May 16, 2013.

Emark - You're absolutely right! I only picked this recipe as a general guideline, for two major reasons. 1) I already have some nice gruyere that needs to get used, and 2) I did note that the recipe calls for a lot of stuff I can do ahead of time. In the past I have found that recipes like this one are my friend. Time constraints while cooking are a challenge for me as a beginner.

Thanks for the notes on the recipe though, because that will help me make adjustments. I won't bother buying saffron. 

I'd never actually heard of cooking wine in the supermarket. But our supermarkets are not allowed to sell any alcoholic products in know, where it would actually be most convenient. Welcome to Canada.

I will also note that I've seen recipes call for large amounts of high end wines before...and I can never bring myself to do this, because I am fairly sure it is against my religion. :) I actually like these recipes because it helps me use up good wines that I have already opened and are getting towards the end of drinkability.

Thanks dimsum - I've been meaning to demonstrate that with pairing up some rieslings and spicier foods.

Malcris - thanks for your interesting notes, especially about environment. I was just thinking about how the weather is probably going to influence my decision...just out of personal preferences, really. Your suggestion about Beaujolais is an interesting one. I was thinking about the importance of the acid to add structure and cut the richness of the thanks for the advice here.

I'll be sure let you guys know what I manage to find/pick...and how the different wines work out! I'm going to find some different appetizers or accompaniments to get a better feel for which wines work best with what. This also gives me "back-up" foods should there be any major problems. And extra wine to drink while I remind myself that I've still gained a learning experience. Win-Win, even when you lose. :) 

Tonight I'm doing a roast leg of lamb, and planning the same type of experimentation with some red wines. I think Tuesday is looking like Lobster Thermidor I'll keep you posted. :)

Thanks again, everyone! 

Reply by JonDerry, May 16, 2013.

Should be great with Chardonnay!

Definitely would try some Chablis, and CA Chard. Can you get Heitz up there? That's a good one with pretty good distribution from CA.

Definitely try to go at least 1er Cru from Chablis.

Reply by JenniferT, May 19, 2013.

I checked for Heitz - I can only get the Cab Sauvingnon :( 

Nor could I find a Roussanne/Viognier (only Roussannes from Chateauneuf du Pape) or  older cru Beaujolais.

So, for now anyway, after much deliberation.... here's the lineup for Tues:

1. Californian Chardonnay: Rodney Strong Chalk Hill. I will probably also get the reserve if they have it, but I doubt they do. I couldn't find anything by Evening Land, Flowers, etc.

2. Burgundy: 2010 Louis Latour

3. A splurgy grand cru Chablis: Domaine William Fevre Les Clos Grand Cru 2010 (or 2009 - I'm not sure which one is in stock). I'll buy this unless I find out that it is too early to drink this one (as is the case with many of the more expensive bottles, I'm noticing) 

4. A dirt cheap Cotes du Rhone blend: Louis Bernard (a blend of Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourboulanc, Roussanne, and Viognier). I'm mostly buying this one out of curiousity.

5. A German Riesling: 2010 Selbach Oster Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Riesling Auslese


Reply by JonDerry, May 19, 2013.

Definitely go with the Fevre Les Clos, 2010 is great by all accounts, and I'm sure the '09 is too. Just give it plenty of air, it will surely be wound a bit tight, but that doesn't mean it won't taste great. I recently tried a '10  Les Preuses and have been wanting to open a '10 Les Clos...looks like you may beat me to it!

Also, if it makes you feel any better, '11 Chablis are starting to arrive ; )

Reply by dimsum4sum1, May 19, 2013.

You'd probably have a better chance of finding a specific wine on-line than at the store.

If you insist on purchasing at a store.

CA Chards: you might have a better shot with Rombauer and Paul Hobbs as your moderate and high end whites.

White Burgundy. I see Louis Jadot and Joseph Drouhin (cough, cough) everywhere though I'm not a fan.

If you're going with Pinot Noir.. Paul Hobbs, Martinelli, Sea Smoke from CA or the Burgundian styled Oregon Pinot's like A to Z, Anne Amie, Soter, Coleman, Patton, Ken Wright, Elk Cove.

The Auslese's great.

Reply by JenniferT, May 20, 2013.

Oh....but our draconian Canadian liquor laws are one step ahead of you! The only wines I can order online (and actually have delivered here) are from the same province. Canadian stores aren't even allowed to ship to other provinces in Canada. So I can't even have the wines I purchase in Alberta shipped to BC. So that kind of explains the selection...or lack thereof. My understanding is that even the smaller independent stores here ultimately have to go through government. I can honestly say that I work really hard to generate the selection that I have. Too hard. 

Incidentally, nothing spoils the fun in tasting rooms in the states like admitting you're Canadian.....and therefore not invited to the club. Seriously, you would think that wine is pretty much like guns up in here! :)

I'm still looking for a great little wine store in my city, but I haven't found anything exceptional yet. :(

I'm limited to in-store purchases at this point anyway, because my dinner is this Tues.

Good to know about the Auslese though! 

We've been drinking a fair bit of PN lately so I'm going to skip that option for now. I do have a second option for the white Burgundy though - a 2010 from Paul Garaudet that I purchased in Alberta.

Reply by JenniferT, May 20, 2013.

To be fair though, I didn't look for the white Burgundies....I already have the Garaudet and the Louis Latour here so I wanted to use one of them for this dinner.






Reply by dimsum4sum1, May 20, 2013.

Are you allow to order wines on-line from the USA? Otherwise, you could order some wines from the winery itself.

Well, at least you don't live too far away from Washington State. I love the wines there, Unfortunately for you, its in the southern most part of the state.

Reply by JenniferT, May 20, 2013.

Nope. At least not for any of the sites I've been to. Some of the helpful ones (especially if you are interested in ordering a certain quantity) offer o send to an address in washington (or elsewhere in the US) on my behalf. But never to a Canadian address. And, of all the wineries I've ever visited, none would ship to Canada. I'm fairly sure that this is due to our laws, and not their choice.

I'm fairly sure that this is because all our wine and liquor sales are ultimately arbitrated by a governmental organization. If it doesn't go through those guys, it doesn't come in.

That does make trips to Washington all the sweeter though. When I was younger it was so much fun to go to your gas stations and buy all the candy bars that I'd never seen for sale it is just wine instead...not much has changed, really.  :)

Paying extra at customs to bring back however much wine I want isn't really a deterrent...since it still works out to less than I would typically pay here for the same wines....if they were for sale here...which they usually aren't.

Complaining aside, I've moved my Lobster dinner to Wednesday or Thurs. I'll still be sure to let you guys know how it goes.

And, again - thanks for all your feedback and recommendations.

Reply by JenniferT, May 22, 2013.

Huh, well it turns out that I actually have two options for that chablis: Domaine William Fevre Les Clos Grand Cru 2010 (or 2009, I'm not sure)....OR 2003 Domaine de la Vougeraie Vougeot 1er cru.

Due to the price, I would far prefer to choose one instead of getting both. 

I'm not sure which one would be a better example of a classic chablis (this dinner is for my boyfriend who is currently taking a sommelier course, so I'm planning on doing a blind tasting for him with the wines as well).

My dinner is going to be tomorrow, so I know there's not much time...but, as always, I'd appreciate any feedback.  

Reply by Welkja, May 22, 2013.

Grand Crus have a higher status in the French hierarchy of wines than 1er Crus. That is not to say  that it is a better wine, but the history of the Grand Cru is more representative of the Chablis standard. Good luck  with your dinner.


Reply by JonDerry, May 22, 2013.

Les Clos is the epitome (top of the top) of Chablis...I'm praying you pick the Fevre!

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