Who doesn’t love sitting down to a big bowl of mussels steamed in their own briny liquid, piled high in garlic and white wine broth? When it’s this simple the answer is easy to find a wine to pair with. White wine is the best option, and, in most cases, there is white wine in the broth so it’s a double win!
Top 5 Wines For Mussels:
- Sauvignon Blanc (Sancerre, Pouille Fume or New Zealand)
- Chablis (or unoaked Chardonnay)
The white wines that pair the best with classic steamed mussels are dry, light bodied, crisp, citrussy, higher acid, mineral driven wines. Mussels are delicate and so is the classic preparation so you want a clean and delicate wine which will not overpower the dish.
Sauvignon Blanc is a top contender for the classic preparation, it is a crisp light bodied white wine with citrus notes of lemon zest, grapefruit pith, gooseberries, guava, and peaches. It’s known for high acidity and herbaceous notes which pair well with salty mussels. The minerality of the wine will match the brininess of the mussels and bring out the flavours in the broth. BC offers many great options here in both the Sancerre/Pouilly Fume, France style and the vibrant New Zealand style.
Picture yourself here – enjoying fresh mussels steamed in white wine, garlic and parsley. You’re sipping a glass of cold, crisp Trebbiano from a nearby vineyard….. You are a rockstar.
Other wines that work well originate in Mediterranean countries like Italy and Spain. You can find some of these varieties at certain wineries in BC too:
- Albarino (Terravista Vineyards, Stags Hollow Winery)
- Trebbiano (Hester Creek Winery)
- Gruner Veltliner (Culmina Estate Winery)
It’s worth mentioning the most famous wine to pair from France is Muscadet with its briny Atlantic Ocean influence and minerality. Picpoul and Chablis also from France as they work well and always helpful to know tips if you are travelling in Europe. Many Italian white wines fit such as Vermentino, Falanghina, Garganega, Arneis, Cattaratto, etc.
“If you were to change the classic preparation to a spicier sauce such as Thai green curry broth, then Riesling or Gewurztraminer would be a better match”
If you were to change the classic preparation to a spicier sauce such as Thai green curry broth, then a Riesling or Gewurztraminer would be a better match. The sweetness will offset the spice and even though Gewurztraminer doesn’t have the high level of acidity of a Riesling, it has exotic lychee fruit notes that will marry nicely with the curry heat, lemon grass and galanga.
If you serve a mussel & clam pasta with a white wine butter sauce, then a Chardonnay or Viognier will match the increased fat from the butter but also the weight of the pasta as they are fuller bodied white wines.
Now, if you wanted to add tomatoes to the broth then this could call for more than a white wine, perhaps moving in the direction of a light to medium bodied red wine such as a Pinot Noir. It is a good option because its red fruit profile works with the tomatoes and the higher acidity is a great match with the brininess in the mussels.
Any heavier red would have tannins and they will overpower the delicacy of the dish but also the tannins will collide with the brininess in the mussels creating a metallic taste in your mouth. There are some winning combinations here so have fun experimenting. Enjoy!
Katherine McEachnie DipWSET