Thoughts on the Half Shell: Oysters 101

Thoughts on the Half Shell Taste Talks Oysters

“Take it naked.” Excuse me? The woman removed the lemon from my grip and pointed towards the Blue Pool Oyster balanced in my palm. “Just slurp it down naked.” Oh. 

I’ve loved oysters my entire life, but I ate them the same way I drank solo cups of Franzia in college, without any knowledge that other varieties existed and proud of my ability to slurp them down. I could not tell you the difference between a Dosewallip and a Cuttyneck to save my life (Still can’t, but I’ll be using those names as my expletive of choice from here on out. Dosewallips!).

This past weekend at Taste Talks, I attended an oyster and wine pairing that taught me a thing or two about our barnacled friends.

Oyster 101:

  1. If you’ve never had an oyster before, start with the Kumamoto {Oregon}. It’s small, sweet, and fruity, with a very subtle taste.
  2. Oyster season is officially in months that have an “R” in them, i.e. the winter months.
  3. Words to describe oysters with: zesty, fatty, crunchy, meaty, balanced, briny, buttery, sweet, bold.
  4. When in doubt, order a classic gin martini with a lemon twist to pair with your oyster.
  5. Oyster tumbling is a means of producing oysters to give them a deeper cup but a smaller shell. This method is used with Hama Hama {Oregon}.
  6. West Coast oysters are often meatier, while East Coast oysters (all derivatives of the Virginica species) are often slurpier and more balanced in flavor. Island Creeks {Massachusetts} are often considered the quintessential East Coast oyster.
  7. Oysters taste best during the winter because during the summer, they load up on a sugary substance called glycogen that’s incredibly flavorful.

Oyster and Wine Pairings:

Hama Hama Oysters with Aop Blanquette De Limoux Mauzac, Chardonnay
Blue Pool Oysters with Aop Crémant De Limoux Brut 2012
Row 24 Oysters with Aop Picpoul De Pinet Piquepoul
Island Creek Oysters with Byrrh Grand Quinquina