Foodie Guide: Pairing Wine + Beer with Your Oysters in Virginia’s River Realm

Virginia’s River Realm is home to the Virginia Oyster! There are many ways to enjoy this locally grown and internationally known delicacy. There are special events throughout the year that feature the oyster. See them all here. If you want to guide yourself through your own culinary adventure, we can help! We asked local chefs, food gurus, and business owners about their favorite wine and oyster pairings. Get ready to drool…

byrd seafood

1. Bryan Byrd, Byrd’s Seafood and Dog & Oyster Vineyard

How long have you been working in Virginia’s River Realm?

I grew up in Virginia’s River Realm. I have been working in the restaurant industry for 15 years. Ten of those years were spent working in the region and about five were spent in Key West to gain more experience. Now, I give people a taste of what I grew up, but with a Caribbean spin.

When was the first time you tried an oyster?

I first tried an oyster when I was 10 years old. My stepfather was a third generation waterman. He always encouraged me to try new things.

What is your favorite Wine + Oyster pairing?

I would pair the Dog & Oyster Rose with Byrd’s Seafood Fried Oyster Tacos. The winery’s Rose is one of the best on the East Coast. The tacos are served in a flour tortilla topped with spicy Siracha and a key lime coleslaw.

Where can someone get this Wine + Oyster pairing?

Byrd Seafood is officially open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at Dog & Oyster Vineyard. We’ll be open until December. You can also find us at weddings, private parties, festivals and more. Visit our Facebook page to find out where we’ll be!

urbanna seafood

2. Rufus Ruark, Shores & Ruark Seafood Co./ Urbanna Seafood Market & Raw Bar

How long have you been working in Virginia’s River Realm?

I have worked in the oyster business for 40 years. My father opened Shores & Ruark in 1976 and we opened Urbanna Seafood Market and Raw Bar four years ago.

When was the first time you tried an oyster?

I tried my first oyster when I was 8. It’s still the same today! You have to shuck oysters by hand.

What is your favorite wine and oyster pairing?

I actually prefer a cold craft beer, like a Devil’s Backbone, with a Shores & Ruark oyster. I also like Northern Lights oysters.

Where can someone get this oyster pairing?

Urbanna Seafood Market & Raw Bar is open Thursday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sundays 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.  Visit before the end of November to enjoy local oysters before the raw bar and market closes for the season.  Visit the website for more information.

eckhards

3. Don Marvin, Eckhard’s Restaurant

How long have you been working in Virginia’s River Realm?

For 14 years. I moved from Rochester, New York to be with family. That trip led to the purchase of Eckhard’s. It was all German food then, which we still serve, but with a new mix of Italian and fresh seafood.

When was the first time you tried an oyster?

I’ve had oysters so many times, I’ve been working in the restaurant industry since I was 15.

What is your favorite wine and oyster pairing?

Here at Eckhard’s, we love the Oyster’s Rockefeller with one of our white wines like the Rambauer Chardonnay. We also love raw oysters with Cotes Du Rhone.

Where can someone get this wine and oyster pairing?

Eckhard’s is open Wednesday-Sunday. Come join us by our fireplace for dinner soon! Check out the menu at www.eckhards.com.

oysters with pea crab chesapeake inn generic

4. John Milby, Managing Partner of Chesapeake Inn

How long have you been working in Virginia’s River Realm?

I grew up in Urbanna and have been here ever since college. We purchased the Inn during March 2009 and opened for business in August 2009.

When was the first time you tried an oyster?

I’ve been eating oysters since I was five years old. They were always here. They were always around.

What is your favorite wine and oyster pairing?

I would favor the old salt from the Eastern Shore. They are super briney and salty. I’d wash them down with a cold, cold Allagash beer.

Visit the Chesapeake Inn during your next stay in Urbanna.

oysters on the grill

5. Samir Dhir, The Tides Inn

How long have you been working in Virginia’s River Realm?

This is my third season at the Tides Inn. I am a Level Three Sommelier and Assistant Director of Food and Beverage.

When was the first time you tried an oyster?

I was four years old. I remember throwing a fit. My parents are vegetarian, but I wanted to try oysters… I’ve always had a liking for oysters and clams. I spent 12 years in the New England area. There was always fresh seafood. The more I ate, the more I loved and learned about them.

What is your favorite Wine + Oyster pairing?

The chef of the Tides Inn does amazing roasted oysters. Just roast them with a little bit of butter, fresh off the grill. We have more than 370 wines on our list here and 57 of them are from Virginia. If you keep the region in mind when you pair foods, you get the most out of it. One of my favorites is a 2016 Voignier from Good Luck Cellars that would pair really well with roasted oysters.

Where can someone get this Wine + Oyster pairing?

You can get both here at the Tides Inn. Good Luck Cellars is just down the road if you want to take a little extra wine home with you. Visit the Tides Inn website for a full menu.
merroir

6. Pete Woods, Merroir

How long have you been working in Virginia’s River Realm?

I’ve been working for Rappahannock Oyster Company since June 2011. I met one of the owners in Denver where I was a seafood manager of a group of restaurants. I sold Rappahannock oysters in Denver and was invited to a tasting. Once I came here to help open Merroir, I knew I would stay.

When was the first time you tried an oyster?

I was five or six years old. I was at my grandfather’s house. I was making a face at the oysters. My grandfather made me eat them until I stopped making a face.

What is your favorite wine and oyster pairing?

I have three raw oyster pairings you should try… First is the Rappahannock Oyster, which is sweet, paired with a French Varietal called Piccoul from Barboursville Vineyards. Secondly, I love York River oysters. They pair well with an Austrian wine, Hugl Gruner Veltliner. Finally, an Old Salt Oyster with a French Bordeaux by Macon Villages.

Where can someone get these pairings?

At Merroir restaurant in Virginia Oyster Country. You can also visit one of our other restaurants around the East Coast. Visit their website for a full list of restaurants and menus. 

Learn more about all the oyster festivals, where to buy them and how to experience them like a local here in Virginia’s River Realm.

 

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