Wine Wednesday + October Feels

Château Haut Maurin Bordeaux Sauvignon

“This wine rains kisses in your mouth.” –Insatiable By Gael Greene

The first Wednesday of every month is Wine Wednesday! Spectacular wines under $10.00. Yep. Under $10.00. Sometimes wine is less expensive where I am, but most of the time it’s more expensive. Hopefully that means that I will pick wines that are well below the $10.00 limit for most of you.

I will post wines that I particularly like. I am no specialist by any means, but I do love wine. I know the basics of the different varietals, what regions generally produce, how wines are made, but this space is all about preference. We all like what we like, and you might like what I like too. I will also post food pairings and why those pairings are suitable for the specific wine.

Château Haut Maurin Bordeaux Sauvignon 2015

Price: $8.99

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc

It’s October guys! Quite possibly my most favorite month. I have literally spent all of this previous free weekend doing favorite fall activities such as putting out some Halloween decorations, cooking up a pot of chili, grabbing up those grocery-store sunflowers, and watching a few scary movies under a furry blanket. There may have even been some pumpkins involved…#VirtualPumpkinParty 2016 I’m lookin’ at you! And I can’t stop adding to my wish list of cozy blogger baking recipes to try (including allllll of the ones in Molly’s new gorgeous book!)

But because I know that October 1 doesn’t automatically make everyone want to curl up with some sultry red wine, I’ve picked a white wine for this month that’s as crisp as the air will become throughout the month. And better yet, this is a Bordeaux white wine. If you’ve dabbled in wines at all, you’ll know that the Bordeaux region is absolutely famous for its full-bodied red wines. My favorite reds come from here. About 10-12% of the wines produced in this region of France, however, are white wines. And they have a fabulous reputation for being bone-dry and gently acidic with some citrus and minerality on the nose. This makes for a pretty darn great region for anyone looking for a sip of the good stuff. And I can pick up some deep reds as long as I’m in this section of the wine market ;).

This particular white wine is a Sauvignon Blanc and has great crisp acidity. There are a bunch of bright lemon and grapefruit aromas that remind you of summer just before the dry finish brings you back to reality that the leaves are beginning to fall from the trees. I think of it as a transition wine to ease you gently into the cooler weather. A wine like this pairs perfectly with the briney-ness of seafood which complements the mineral note in the wine. Additionally, something with onions, garlic, and other savory flavors add some body (and for lack of a better word, meat) to the wine, making it more of a substantial mouthful. A predominant herb, like parsley, finishes out the flavors and brings out subtle grassy green notes that you may have missed before.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Mussels!

It hits on all cylinders. We’ve got a delicate briney-ness coming from the mussels themselves, a savory flavor from the shallots and garlic used to perfume the sauce, and parsley finishes it all off with that green note. Plus, we’ve got butter and crusty bread to add richness making it a bit heavier in the best possible way. But the best part? A recipe like this uses white wine in the cooking!

When you cook with a wine, it will always pair well because it literally incorporates the flavors and aromas directly into the dish. But I have noticed something else. When you cook the wine, water and alcohol evaporate and other components become more concentrated. This causes the flavor profile to change slightly as some of the volatile aromas that used to be at the forefront of the wine begin to disappear over the heat. The result is a more complex wine profile if you put the two versions together in one mouthful. Mind. Blown.

Bonus: if you’ll remember from our chat about romantic clam dishes, shellfish taste best in cooler weather. They have a cleaner profile which is best when you have uncomplicated dishes like this one. October is perfect for this because you’re not quite ready to say goodbye to summer’s seafood bounty, but the waters are definitely chilly. So mussels abound!

Do you get the theme here? I’m gently transitioning you into the season before I pull out the big guns!

As an aside, this recipe can be personalized. Play around with the spice level, herbs, garlic, or even omit the wine altogether and use chicken stock if you’re one that doesn’t partake in alcohol. (However, this dish really is divine with wine, so I might be kind of sad if you do that) It’s a loose outline, so I like to think that it allows you to harken back to those early childhood days in the kitchen, or make-shift lab for those fellow nerds out there, where a sprinkle of this or a dash of that are used liberally rather than precise measurements. Go crazy! And happy Wine Wednesday of course.

Mussels with White Wine, Shallots, and Parsley

2 pounds fresh mussels

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

4 large cloves of garlic, minced

3 medium shallots, thinly sliced and then roughly chopped

A pinch red pepper flakes

Kosher salt

Black pepper

1 cup dry white wine

Large handful parsley leaves, roughly chopped

Crusty bread, for serving

  1. Clean the mussels. Gently scrub them under cold water and remove the beards (those stringy things that hang out of the shells). Discard any mussels that do not close if they are open upon gentle probing or those with broken shells. Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a tall-sided pan (or a large pot) that has a fitting lid over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic, shallots, and red pepper flakes. Add a big pinch of salt and a few cracks of black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and fragrant, but not browned. About 3-5 minutes.
  3. Increase the heat to high. Add the white wine to the pan and reduce for several minutes. Add the mussels, half of the parsley, stir quickly, and put the lid on the pan. Heat for 5-8 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through, until all of the mussels open. See the notes from the clam pasta, but discard any mussels that do not open. Take the pan off of the heat.
  4. Add the remaining parsley to the pan and season to taste. Divide between bowls and serve with loaves of crusty bread and a glass of wine. Enjoy!

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