It’s official, we have passed the astronomical beginning of autumn; the season has well and truly begun.
Autumn is a fantastic time of year, as we reflect on another tepid summer, not least because there is plenty happening on the food scene. As we enter the mussel season, WineTrust is here to lend a helping hand to pair great seasonal dishes with our fantastic wines.
SAMPLE YOUR SEASONAL FAVOURITES
The old saying goes that you should only eat shellfish when there is an ‘r’ in the month; whether or not there is any truth to the claim, this is the time of year where the Mussel season really takes off.
Around Spring is when they spawn, so they do not have the meat content until later on in the year. Dregding runs from August and continues throughout the autumn and winter. In fact you can often discern the gender of the mussel by colour, the males paler than the females which exhibit that orange hue.
Mussels make a fantastic and versatile dish, starter or main, lunch or dinner. They also possess some of the highest levels of iron found in any food. They key to pairing mussels – other shellfish or all fish for that matter – with wine is to consider the often overlooked fifth ‘primary’ taste, that being umami.
Alongside the conventional sweet, salt, sour and bitter, caused by an amino acid, glutamate, and ribonucleotides umami rounds out, enhances and broadens other flavours – from the Japanese for “pleasant savoury taste”, it is hard to pin down but is integral to making your favourite foods delicious.
In terms of wine, the umami savouriness works in harmony with white wine, because they are not tannic and have high levels of acidity.
So what works? Well stick to the classics with a Muscadet, as the crisp acidity and saline notes make it the perfect partner.
Our Muscadet is of really classic style – aromas and flavours of autumn apples with a touch of baked bread. Crisp, clean and zesty. Lip smackingly refreshing with a chalky, mineral note on the finish.
This wine comes from vineyards which are situated between the Sèvre and Maine rivers, hence the famous appellation name Muscadet de Sèvre et Maine. Brothers Christophe and Cedric Gobin own 60 hectares of vineyards and Gobin Frères have been making wines for four generations.
Serving Suggestion: Stick with France, try classic Moules Marinère (try and get them from a rope-grown source) and a tip is to add a splash of the wine to make the sauce/jus!
Sticking with the French theme but heading further South, try our new Picpoul de Pinet, which makes a lovely alternative.
This is a really stylish Picpoul – vibrant citric and stone fruit mix (lovely touch of pink grapefruit) and a hint of apple. Really clean, zesty and mouth coating. Very rounded and polished with a hint of spice on the finish
The sunny warm climate aids ripening in the grapes, atop limestone and sandy soils, thus producing the wine’s fruity flavours while the cool sea breezes bring freshness, acidity and crisp aromatics; all helped by reduced yields, by law restricted to 60 hl/ha.
Or across the border in Spain? Albariño is also a perfect match for seafood.
Exposed to the Galician North Atlantic Coast, Rias Baixas is found in the thin oceanic climate zone in the north-west of Spain.
On the shores of the Arousa estuary, a combination of alluvial soils, long dry summers, plentiful rainfall at other times of the year and cooling influences from the Atlantic Ocean mean grapes achieve the desired ripeness, but retain refreshing levels of acidity.
Imagine a mixture of white and yellow peaches fully ripe and aromatic mixed in with shavings of dried apricots and fresh pineapple, all sprinkled with zest lime juice. Then bottle it! One of the best Albariño’s we’ve ever tasted, with this fantastic refreshing acidity.
ALTERNATIVE AUTUMN FISH DISHES
If you are a lover of seafood then Autumn is ripe with seasonal produce, from shellfish such as Langoustines, clams, even oysters, to popular white fish such as cod, dover sole and turbot.
WineTrust are lucky to team up with chef, food blogger and supper club pioneer Kerstin Rodgers (@MSMARMITELOVER), who devised this delightful Smoked Cod, Tilapia, Mussel and Saffron stew. We think it would work perfectly during the autumn months, because what’s better than a comforting stew as the nights draw in, with the addition of great seasonal seafood?
Such a recipe can actually warrant a red wine, which – as long as you tread carefully – can also work with seafood. We suggest a light bodied red, with low tannins and fresh acidity, again complimenting the flavours of the fish.
Pinot Noir is the ideal candidate, try our Marlborough Pinot Noir from Lawson’s Dry Hills. This is establishing itself as a premier region for Pinot Noir, renouned for producing grapes with fresh fruit and acidity and gentle spice qualities.
This wine has a lovely cherry red hue and notes of crushed strawberry on the nose. Bright and juicy raspberry fruits dominate in the mouth, with a hint of cinnamon stick and soft vanilla oak. Really quite delicate, lighter in body and very refreshing.
Alternatively, our very own MW Nick Adams swears by his go-to fish dish, a delicious Shellfish Pasta with Tomato and Coriander Lime Sauce, detailed in his previous blog; if you prefer white fish, the shellfish can be easily substituted. For the stock use the white fish bones instead, or use pre made fish stock.
A key ingredient to Nick’s recipe is crab; autumn signifies the later stages of the crab season, so enjoy now before the winter months. Also add shrimp and prawns; good sized crevettes or langoustines would make a treat.
We’re thinking Riesling for this one, as the steely and citricy quality and some balanced residual sugar will really compliment this style of cooking. Add a bit of chilli heat to the dish and the wine will sing.
Try our new Rolly Gassmann Riesling from the Alsace. Fine citric, zesty nose and palate – plenty of lemon and lime with a steely edge, tempered by balanced residual sugar making for an off-dry style. Lovely touch of soft spice rounds off the textural and balanced mouth feel.
Like with Mussels, Muscadet will work perfectly; you want something crisp, clean and refreshing to harmonise with the flavours. But why not make it an occasion, another classic pairing being Champagne.
Our Ayala Brut Majeur would make an ideal candidate, this Champagne house renowned for its dry, elegant style. A racy and steely Champagne, this is dry and refreshing with a touch of berry fruit, brioche and citrus fruit.
Pinot Noir ensures the fullness and the intensity of the wine, while Chardonnay gives elegance, liveliness and finesse and the Pinot Meunier a delicate fresh and fruity note.
Stay tuned to our blog for some more autumn treats