Looking for the best wine with crab cakes? You’re in luck because I’ve got you covered!
Being an East Coast gal, I love my seafood. And homemade crab cakes are such a delicious treat. Plus, pairing them with the perfect wine takes the flavors to a whole new level.
But with all the different styles…classic, Maryland, Louisiana Cajun…and a whole array of sauces, you might feel confused about how to choose the right wine. I’ve got your back.
As a wine expert, I’m here to help you find the perfect sip to complement every bite of those succulent crab cakes. So, let’s dive in together and discover the wonderful world of crab cake wine pairing.
BTW, if you haven’t yet, make sure to grab my free Wine Tasting Planner. It has 20+ wine night theme ideas, including the exact ones I’ve used for my wine tastings. Plus, a timeline, food pairings, games, free printables, worksheets, and more. Get your copy here.
Crab Cake Flavors
This popular shellfish dish is like a little bite of seafood heaven. A traditional crab cake is a mix of fresh crab, bread crumbs, eggs, mayo, and a dash of herbs and spices.
Once they’re shaped into patties, it’s time to give them a little tan in the pan, the oven, or the deep fryer until they’re crispy and golden on the outside.
The delicate and sweet crab flavor is complemented by the crunchy exterior and a blend of savory seasonings like Old Bay.
You’ll find a few different styles. The gourmet version of Maryland crab cakes keeps it simple with top-notch jumbo lump crab meat and minimal filler for a burst of pure crabby goodness. Or the boardwalk style brings smaller chunks of crab and more filler.
And in Louisiana, they like to spice things up with Cajun crab cakes. The combo of fiery seasoning and hot sauce adds an element of heat.
Whatever style you like, they’re perfect as a mouthwatering appetizer. Or you can make them the star of the show as a main course with sauces and sides.
The Best Wine with Crab Cakes
When it comes to choosing the best wine with crab cakes, think high-acid, medium-bodied whites with zesty citrus and herbaceous flavors. Sauvignon Blanc, Verdejo, Albariño, Vermentino, and Grüner Veltliner are all great options.
These lively wines balance the richness of fried crab cakes, leaving your taste buds refreshed and eager for more. Their green notes perfectly complement the herb ingredients. And the lemon-lime flavors mimic the tangy goodness of tartar sauce.
You can also go with a sparkling wine like Champagne or a rosé from Provence — both excellent pairings. And if red wine is a must, keep it light with something like a fruity Gamay from Beaujolais that won’t overpower those delicate crab cake flavors.
Sauvignon Blanc and crab cakes are like culinary BFFs! This crisp white wine is the perfect match for these fried delights. The sky-high acidity cuts through the richness of the crab cakes like a charm.
Plus, it often has a green pepper or grassy note that perfectly complements the fresh herbs in the crab cakes. And if you’re serving veggies or a green salad on the side, Sauvignon Blanc is the ultimate team player.
The citrus notes in this wine also add an extra zing. And this matches beautifully with tart sauces like lemon aioli and tartar sauce.
For the best match, go for New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. You’ll most often find this wine’s classic intense flavors from the famous Marlborough region. But other New World countries like Chile, South Africa, and Australia make similar versions too.
If you want to go Old World, consider a Sancerre from the Loire Valley. This Sauvignon Blanc may be less fruit-forward but is still a good match with its crisp acidity, citrus, and green notes that perfectly align with the flavors of your crab cakes.
Pro Tip: If you’re up for trying some different wines, check out these options that are similar to Sauvignon Blanc:
- Spanish white wines like Verdejo and Albariño
- Vermentino from Italy
- Grüner Veltliner from Austria
- Assyrtiko from Santorini, Greece
- Picpoul from Southern France
Pin for Later!
Why settle for ordinary when you can go for the crème de la crème of wine pairings with your gourmet seafood treat? Champagne and crab cakes are a match made in sparkle heaven!
This bubbly delight from France is known as a perfect pairing with fried foods and seafood dishes alike. And with the region’s cool climate, Champagne has higher acidity than other sparkling wines like Cava or Prosecco.
For classic crab cakes, brut style is the way to go. This dry wine will harmonize beautifully with the sweetness of crab meat without overpowering it.
For Cajun-style cakes or spicy sauces, go for an off-dry style like extra dry or dry. The hint of sweetness combined with the effervescence will cool down the fiery sensation in your mouth.
Champagne only comes from the Champagne region in France. Don’t let those California “Champagne” labels fool you.
Pro Tip: Champagne can cost you a pretty penny. So, if you don’t want to shell out the dough, I’d recommend Crémant de Bourgogne. This sparkler is made using the same winemaking techniques and often the same grapes. But it comes from the nearby Burgundy region of France.
Confused about Champagne sweetness levels? Find out the difference between brut vs. extra dry.
This light and lovely rosé has delicate flavors of strawberry, cherry, and raspberry. Plus, aromas of garden herbs and a hint of brininess on the finish.
These wines come from Southern France and are made with red grapes like Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. The pale salmon color is even lighter than Pinot Noir rosé. Often likened to the tone of an onion peel, this comes from a very short maceration time on the grape skins.
With its bright acidity, this rosé is the champion of pairing with shellfish, especially these rich, fried crab cakes. Its briny quality elevates the seafood flavors to perfection.
Pro Tip: Make sure to grab the latest vintage. Rosé is meant to be enjoyed young when its fruity flavors are at their freshest. So, stay away from that 3-year-old bottle that got lost at the back of the shelf.
Learn more about all the different types of rosé wine.
The Best Red Wine with Crab Cakes
While not the best pairing option, if you really need a red vino fix, I’ve got you covered. Now, here’s the trick — opt for light-bodied reds with good acidity and fruit-forward flavors.
You want a wine that won’t bulldoze the delicate flavors of those crab cakes. So, steer clear of higher tannin wines like bold Cabernet Sauvignon.
Gamay is light and fruity with low tannins, making it one of best red wines for your crab cakes. Think red cherry, raspberry, and cranberry flavors mingling with delightful floral notes.
You’ll find Gamay mostly in France’s Beaujolais region. Look for the basic level or Beaujolais Villages for the fruitiest style with the lowest tannins. But for the top-quality stuff, check out Fleurie and Brouilly from the Beaujolais Crus.
Pro Tip: You can also spot some Gamay from other parts of Burgundy or the Loire Valley. Outside of France, the Willamette Valley in Oregon, United States grows some Gamay too.
Crab Cakes Wine Pairing FAQs
Is Pinot Grigio Good With Crab Cakes?
Pinot Grigio can be a good choice with crab cakes. While often lower in acidity than Sauvignon Blanc, its light and crisp nature complements the delicate flavors of the crab. And the wine’s citrus notes add an extra zing.
For a great pairing, look for higher-acid styles from Italy’s Alto Adige or Trentino regions.
Learn more about the difference between Pinot Grigio vs. Sauvignon Blanc.
Does Chardonnay Pair With Crab Cakes?
Chardonnay can pair well with crab cakes. A cool-climate unoaked style like those from France’s Chablis region would be a great choice.
Or if you’re serving your crab cakes with a buttery sauce, you could go for a lightly oaked version with a buttery flavor. But don’t go overboard. Chardonnay can often be a fuller-bodied white wine that will overshadow the sweet crab meat.
is pinot noir good With Crab Cakes?
Pinot Noir, though a lighter red wine, tends to have a bit more tannin and earthy notes compared to other lighter reds like Gamay. This can overpower some of the subtle flavors of crab cakes. But it is a better choice than many other bolder red wines.
Sauces for Crab Cakes
Crab cakes alone are divine. But let’s talk about taking them to a whole new saucy level! This lineup of lip-smacking sauces will make your crab cakes even more of a delight.
And if you’re feeling extra saucy, why not whip up a variety of options to dip, dunk, and devour?
- Tartar Sauce – This classic mayo-based wonder is infused with sweet pickles and may have a touch of lemon juice.
- Remoulade Sauce – A close cousin to tartar sauce, this creamy concoction adds an element of spice with seasonings and hot sauce.
- Cocktail Sauce – This tomato-based accompaniment will add a zesty burst to every bite.
- Lemon Aioli – A garlicky dream with a squeeze of lemon brings a creamy texture and citrusy punch to your crab dishes.
- Mango Salsa – Fruity and fresh, this tropical mix of diced mangoes, red bell pepper, onions, and cilantro makes for a sweet and tangy delight.
- Chipotle Mayo – This blend of mayo and chipotle peppers adds a spicy kick to your crab cakes.
Just keep in mind the sauce should complement rather than outshine your crab cakes and wine. And if you go with a spicy sauce, you’ll want a wine with a little sweetness to cool down the heat.
Side Dishes to go with Crab Cakes
Crab cakes aren’t just an appetizer. They have what it takes to be a delicious entrée when paired with some tasty sides.
There are loads of scrumptious food pairings that will beautifully complement this shellfish delight. Here are a few of my favorites to get you started:
- Coleslaw – Crunchy and tangy shredded cabbage salad that offers a fresh contrast to crab cakes.
- Mixed Greens Salad – A light salad with fresh greens, cherry tomatoes, and a vinaigrette to add vibrancy to your meal.
- Cornbread – Slightly sweet and crumbly cornbread that contrasts with the savory flavors of crab cakes.
- Roasted Vegetables – Seasonal veggies like squash, zucchini, and bell peppers, roasted with olive oil and herbs.
- Grilled Corn – Smoky and sweet grilled corn on the cob with a touch of butter.
- Cowboy Caviar – A delightful mix of corn kernels, black beans, bell peppers, tomatoes, avocados, red onions, and cilantro, tossed in a zesty lime dressing. Get my cowboy caviar recipe here.
- Pasta Salad – Twirls of pasta with colorful veggies, olives, and a tangy vinaigrette for a satisfying carb companion.
- Potato Salad – Creamy potato goodness with mayo, mustard, and a sprinkle of herbs — a classic favorite for any seafood feast.
- Avocado Salad – Diced avocados, cherry tomatoes, and red onions mixed with a citrusy dressing for a fresh addition to your crab cake spread.
Crab Cakes Recipe Equipment
For this crab cake recipe, you’ll need the following equipment:
- Heavy skillet (preferably nonstick) like this one
- Medium-sized mixing bowl – these are the ones I use
- Rubber spatula
- Chef’s knife – I use this Wusthof one
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Crab Cakes Recipe
- 3 tbsps mayonnaise
- 1 1/2 tsps dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup green scallions, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 1/2 tsps Old Bay seasoning
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 tbsps plain dry bread crumbs
- 1 lb jumbo lump crabmeat
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 lemon, sliced into wedges
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tbsps sweet pickle relish
- 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp minced shallot
- 1-2 tbsps lemon juice to taste
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Check the crabmeat and remove any pieces of shells or cartilage.
- In a bowl, stir together mayonnaise, mustard, scallions, herbs, Old Bay seasoning, salt, and half of the bread crumbs.
- Add the crabmeat and egg. Gently fold together with a rubber spatula until things start to stick together. If it's not sticking, add more breadcrumbs as needed.
- Divide the mixture into 4 and form into individual cakes. Place them on the baking sheet.
- Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This will help the cakes stick together when cooked.
- Place the flour on a plate and lightly coat the crab cakes.
- In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil on medium-high.
- Carefully place the crab cakes in the pan and cook 3-5 minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy.
- Garnish with lemon wedges.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir together.
- Cover until ready to serve.
Which wine pairing did you choose for your crab cakes? What’re your favorite sauces and sides?