Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Muscadet…and Mussels with Peas & White Wine

Like most people (I think), my wife and I first choose what food we’re having and then we find a wine to match. Every so often, though, we choose the wine first. I had recently purchased the Château Salmonière, Muscadet Sèvre & Maine, 2008 and thought that mussels would be a good match. Muscadet comes from the Nantais region in France, where mussels are a traditional dish. You rarely go wrong in matching food with wine from the same region.

In our house, mussels are a traditional wintertime dish (as opposed to muscles, which are a rarity here year-round). We don’t have the classic ceramic cooking pots for mussels, brought directly from the stove to the table, but we seem to do just fine without them.

For our latest molluscular indulgence, I used the recipe for “Cozze in Pentola” from Massimo Capra’s book, One Pot Italian Cooking. It’s easy to make…scrubbing the mussels takes the most time. The sauce is made of white wine, green peas, tomatoes, tarragon, and heavy cream. We like our mussels to be swimming in the sauce; next time, I’d double up on the sauce, allowing it to reduce and become thicker. If you have extra sauce, you can always serve some baguette to soak it up.

The Muscadet and this recipe for mussels were a great match. The wine had lemon and just a touch of floral on the nose, there’s lots more citrus and minerality in the mouth. It’s still young and has great, crisp acidity to cut through the creamy sauce. It’s made from the Melon de Bourgogne varietal. Despite its name, Melon de Bourgogne has disappeared from Burgundy. It’s now THE varietal in the Muscadet region, where the Loire River empties into the Bay of Biscay on the western coast. Enjoy!

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