Honey glazed scallops and Bok Choy with celery root puree. Picture from Pinterest. Picture from Pexels.

Ah, the temperamental scallop! If undercooked it’s mushy, if overcooked, it’s rubbery. If properly handled, the delicate, but meaty texture sings in your mouth.

Scallops are one of the most intriguing foods to hail from the sea. 

The rich texture coupled with a delicate essence of flavour never gets lost in the preparation, whether simple or complex. Consequently, scallops are ideally suited for wines that are equally rich in texture and flavour. 

Scallops also need crisp, refreshing acidity to cleanse the palate and prepare the taste buds for another bite. Once having accomplished this culinary feat, what wine shall accompany? 

We asked Tinashe Nyamudoka, Head Sommelier at The Test Kitchen in Cape Town for his suggestions, and he accommodated, revealing a stunning passion for food and wine. The mouth waters in consideration of his inventive unions below.

Lemon and garlic butter scallops. Picture from Pexels.

“Depending on the scallop’s preparation or the theme for the evening, choose one of these wines or something similar,'' says Nyamudoka. 

“Some of my fondest wine memories around scallops are a beautifully pan-seared Diver Scallops served on a celery root purée with black olive tapenade that was paired extraordinarily with a Thorne and Daughters Rocking Horse 2017 Cape White Blend.”

The wine is composed of a number of carefully selected vineyard sites in the Western Cape. The aromas are of lime leaf, white peach, exotic woods, and sweet dried herbs. In the mouth, the wine starts broad and rich, resolving into a keen line of acidity supported by a gentle tannin with flavours of burnt sugar, orange flower and rooibos leaf. 

“All the stars were aligned on this one –  the richness of the wine stood proud next to the bold flavours of the Mediterranean and the aromatics were simply divine. Each bite brought out more from the next and was a symphony in my mouth”, adds Nyamudoka.

Seared Diver Sea Scallops with spaghetti squash, tomato confit and lemon garlic butter. Picture from Pexels.

Fresh Spring ingredients are the perfect match for a scallop dish. Using fresh herbs such as thyme, oregano and chives with shallots and lemon in a compound butter, begs the scallops to sing Spring. 

“Adding grilled asparagus to the plate may stop you in your tracks, as asparagus is known as a difficult-to-pair ingredient. However, this is a perfect example of how pairing the right foods with the right wine make the experience complete. You want the wine to match the acidity of the asparagus and lemon as well as the rich and creamy texture of the scallop, so Meinert Semillon Straw Wine would go well with a dish like this.

Whether the wine is white or red will depend on what ingredients will accompany the scallops, but the key point here is texture. A broad white wine will mimic the similar texture of the scallop. Having said this, stay away from big tannins. Pinot noir would be the ideal red. Its provenance would depend on accompanying flavours/textures.