Which Wines to Pair With: Florida Stone Crabs!

This time of year in South Florida we are obsessed with Stone Crabs, a delicacy only available from October 15th through May 15th. While these crustaceans can be found in waters as far north as Connecticut, the best are widely believed to come from Florida. The world famous Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami’s South Beach is the authority on these... Read More

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Which Wines to Pair With: Florida Stone Crabs!


This time of year in South Florida we are obsessed with Stone Crabs, a delicacy only available from October 15th through May 15th. While these crustaceans can be found in waters as far north as Connecticut, the best are widely believed to come from Florida. The world famous Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami’s South Beach is the authority on these crustaceans, also known as Menippe Mercenaria (Menippe = Greek, meaning force or courage and Mercenaria = Latin meaning something of value).

Unlike most other crabs including Maine’s Peekytoe, Chesapeake Blue, or the Pacific Dungeoness, only the claws of the stone crab are harvested and the crabs are not killed during the process. These crabs are captured in baited traps and only one claw per crab can be taken so it can still defend itself against predators. The claws make up about half the weight of the entire crab and once harvested, the pricey appendages are classified and priced according to weight – Colossal size claws can weigh up to 25 ounces or more! Once harvested, the crab is returned to the water where the claw will regenerate in approximately 12-24 months.

stone crab, nirvana, mustard sauce

The stone crab gets its name from their extremely hard shells and the claws must be cracked prior to eating – an art form in and of itself! Stone crabs have a delicious, sweet flavor and their texture is somewhere between the delicacy of crab and the decadence of lobster. They are traditionally served with a mustard sauce which complements the delicious meat although many prefer to eat them plain with nothing at all. Many establishments are know for their mustard sauce and there’s some debate as to which type of sauce is the best. Some folks lean towards a spicy mustard sauce (like us!) while others tend towards sweet with the addition of some honey. Which type of mustard sauce do you prefer if any at all?

Wine pairing suggestions: In order to complement the texture and flavor of the crab as well as the tanginess of the mustard sauce, opt for wines with notes of citrus and stone fruit with a racy, cleansing acidity. Champagne, Sauvignon Blanc, Vermentino, and unoaked Chardonnay are wonderful choices to pair with Florida Stone Crabs. Here are our recommendations available at The Wine Atelier:

1.) Champagne Ayala Brut Majeur, Champagne, France, NV ($44)a light, fresh style of Champagne which will complement the texture of the crab meat beautifully!

2.) Round Pond Estate Sauvignon Blanc Rutherford, California ($20) notes of juicy citrus and white flowers characterize this California beauty!

3.) Banfi La Pettegola Vermentino, IGT Toscana, Italy, 2013 ($20)light and bright with notes of green apple, apricot & grapefruit with a racy acidity!

4.) Drouhin Vaudon Chablis, Burgundy, France, 2012 ($25) Notes of apple, citrus, and white peach characterize this mouth watering Chardonnay!




Living “La Dolce Vita” at Cavalli Miami Restaurant & Lounge!

If you’re a fan of fashion, food & wine, and sunny South Florida, this glamorous trio is beautifully embodied in the latest addition to Miami’s South Beach social scene, the Cavalli Miami Restaurant & Lounge.

This establishment marks the first of its kind in the US for world-renowned Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli and his son Tommaso (pictured above). “The pleasure of listening to enjoyable music, accompanied by great food and good company in an elegant and sophisticated setting,” is Cavalli’s philosophy behind the new concept. Father and son also collaborate on their eponymous line of wines from their family-owned and run Tuscan estate, Tenuta Degli Dei, which were the focus of a recent wine dinner hosted by Tommaso at the new establishment.

The designer’s influence on the multi-level space located on Ocean Drive is immediately evident. The stark, “South Beach white” exterior features the unmistakable Cavalli logo backlit in neon white above the entryway. The interior is sultry and sophisticated with Cavalli’s signature animal prints adorning the banquettes, tables and menus. Fashionable vignettes throughout the downstairs dining room feature bottles of the Cavalli wines displayed with glossy hardcover books, elegant decor elements and photos of Cavalli against a backdrop of brightly colored, floral patterned fabrics.

While the downstairs dining room is fashionably chic, upstairs is clearly intended to be the hub of late night activity. Here, the swanky decor exudes South Beach’s “club” vibe with a Cavalli-esque twist. Beveled mirrored walls reflect a backdrop of sumptuous velvet curtains while sleek black leather and leopard print seating areas surround a black lacquer DJ booth just beckoning you to get your dance on!

In addition to the ambiance, the food and wine were also quite fabulous. The tasting menu was paired with a selection of Cavalli wines crafted by winemaker Carlo Ferrini, Wine Enthusiast’s 2007 Winemaker of the Year. Ferrini has created a critically acclaimed portfolio of wines and Sommelier Matias Benjamin Vergara guided us through the evening’s selections which were paired with the deliciously authentic, Italian cuisine of Chef Stefano Mazzi.

First was Tuscan Chianina Beef Tartare, featuring beef from one of the oldest cattle breeds in the world. Indigenous to Italy, Chianina beef is traditionally used to prepare the classic Tuscan dish Bistecca alla Fiorentina which is the perfect accompaniment for virtually all of Tuscany’s red wines. The Chianina tartare was paired with the 2010 Tenuta Degli Dei “Le Redini” IGT, a blend of 90% Merlot and 10% Alicante. This supple red wine had aromas and flavors of red cherry, licorice and spice and complemented the flavor and texture of the meat beautifully.

For the “Primi” or pasta course, heavenly Tuscan Wild Boar Ravioli was served with shaved black truffle and a decadent drizzle of truffle oil. The house-made ravioli were the perfect texture, melting in my mouth along with the flavorful, tender meat. This delicious dish was paired with the 2007 Tenuta Degli Dei IGT, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot aged for 18 months in French oak barrique. This wine had fragrant floral and dark fruit aromas while on the palate, flavors of blackberry, plum and spice accompanied a velvety texture, supple tannins, and a lengthy finish.

For the “Secondi” or Main course Lamb Shank Osso Bucco with Risotto alla Milanese was flavorful and delicious. The risotto was cooked to perfection and the succulent lamb shank was perfectly tender and falling off the bone. The dish was paired with the 2009 Tenuta Degli Dei IGT, a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc and 15% Petit Verdot. The wine had notes of violet, black currant, cherry, and spice with firm tannins and a bright acidity which stood up nicely to the rich osso bucco.

Dessert consisted of Chocolate al Gianduia paired with the Tenuta Degli Dei Grappa, the perfect finale to a delicious evening. Next time you’re in South Florida and feel like living “La Dolce Vita” spend an evening at Cavalli Miami Restaurant and Lounge. Who knows, after dinner you might even stay for a dance or two.

Cavalli Miami Restaurant & Lounge
150 Ocean Drive
Miami Beach, FL
Dinner nightly from 6pm