Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Recipe Friday: Clam Chowder and Wine Pairing

Well, hello and welcome. I am a serious foodie who likes to share her knowledge and love of food with others.

Thus, I created the concept of Recipe Friday at my place of employment. It gets my co-workers asking me questions and in the kitchen, trying out new things. So each Friday (ok it’s a bit delayed this week for all of you) I send out a recipe along with an appropriate wine pairing for the dish I have provided.

It’s a great way to cook and pair well, and it’s a great way to fool your friends into thinking you are in fact a great cook. So enjoy and I look forward to your comments.

Another Friday is here which means the weekend, which means ample opportunity to have fun with your friends, relax, and of course, fit in some good cooking time.

This week I am providing a recipe for clam chowder… a San Francisco treat! Being a recent transplant from Los Angeles to San Francisco, it seems that every restaurant makes clam chowder here, and each is as individual as it can be.

The secret to every cream-based dish is a roux. No, it’s not a baby marsupial, but rather it’s a French term for equal parts fat to equal parts flour, and is crucial to cream soups and sauces as it works as a binder preventing separation of fat and milk solids in cream and cheese.

Chowder, because cream is the main ingredient, needs a lot of help in the flavor department. Cream doesn’t have a lot itself and tends to drown any out, that is why you
have to build the flavor by cooking this in one pot. So the bacon and onion and celery really enliven this dish. Of course you can add things like mushrooms, potatoes, even crab meat, and make it a seafood chowder as the possibilities are endless.

Now to go with this creamy dish, I give you two different white wines. The typical pairing with a cream bases soup or even sauce, is a Chardonnay, full bodied, acidic, and fruity; it works well with the richness of the chowder.

And the other, a Viognier, is a nice alternative to the typical Chard. Similar characteristics, flavorful, and sweet; a bit more like Reisling than a Chardonnay, but that extra sweetness really matches well with this heavy dish.

So have a San Francisco kind of weekend, whether you are actually in the city or somewhere else, you can bring a little bit of the City by the Bay to your neighborhood. Enjoy and as always,

Happy Cooking


Recipe – Clam Chowder
4 slices of bacon
2 cups half and half
1 stalk of celery
2 to 3 cups minced clams
1 small onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tblsp. butter
1 1/2 Tblsp. flour
2 (8 oz) jars clam juice
In a pot (like a Le Creuset), over mendium heat, cook bacon, celery and onion until the onion is translucent.
  Remove, and reserve for later.
  Using the
  same pot, melt butter over medium heat.
  Whisk in flour, creating a roux, stir and cook until bubbly.
  Whisk in one jar of clam juice until smooth.
  Stir in the reserved onion mixture.
  Pour in half and half, stirring constantly.
  Stir in clams and if needed the remaining clam juice, reduce heat, and simmer on low for 30 min. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

Wine Pairing
To create a balance between the creaminess of the chowder, the wine must be on the lighter side, so something like a Chardonnay or a Viognier, with their full fruity notes
will hold up to and cut the richness of the creamy chowder.
Waterstone Carneros Chardonnay 2005
Chateau Montelena Napa Valley Chardonnay 2005 
Jewel Winery Viognier 2004
Rene Rostaing Condrieu La Bonnette Viognier 2005


  1. Katherine,
    Thanks for your post.
    I could almost taste the rich creamy seafood broth lap around my mouth.
    I would love to know more about Viognier. I recently had a glass at a friend’s house (don’t remember the brand) but it was oh, so, lovely and really makes me want to give up Chardonnay.

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