I’m often asked ‘what kind of wine should I cook with’, to which I most often reply, ‘good wine’. While that may seem a bit trite, the point is; don’t spoil a dish by using wine that you wouldn’t offer your friends, or at least drink yourself. Here are a few things to consider when you are using wine as a marinade, making a sauce or using it to cook something in. Unless you are intentionally trying to punch up a dish with oak, avoid wines that have an over-abundance of it. For whites, try to stick with something dry, neutral, and with good acidity. Pinot Grigio and northern Italian whites fall into this category. The same goes for red wine: try to avoid any extreme tannins or oak flavours and try to use wines that are fruity and dry. Beaujolais, Valpolicella and lighter new world reds fall into this category. I’ll often use a ‘baby’ version of the wine I’m going to drink with the meal. For instance if I was going to drink a commune-level Pinot Noir from Burgundy with my Coq au Vin, then I would cook the chicken in Beaujolais or Bourgogne level AC Pinot Noir.
For this very simple presentation, I would cook the mussels in the same wine that I was serving with the dish. Some of the nuances in the wine are repeated in the ingredients.
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons finely minced shallots
2 Cloves finely minced garlic
½ Cup finely chopped green, red and yellow pepper
¼ Cup chopped cilantro
1 Cup Robertson Winery Sauvignon Blanc
1 pound of mussels per person (approximately 20 – 25 as a main course) washed, scrubbed and de-bearded – any opened mussels should be discarded
1 loaf fresh crusty white bread
In a large pot, sauté shallots in olive oil for a minute over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for another minute, stirring often. Add peppers and cook for an additional 2 or 3 minutes, then add the chopped cilantro and the wine. Bring liquid to a boil and carefully add the mussels to the pot, making sure not to break any of the shells. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. When the liquid has returned to a boil, remove the pot from heat and set aside.
Carefully remove lid so that the steam released away from you. Scoop mussels out with a slotted spoon and place into deep bowls, discard any mussels that have not opened. Return the pot to the heat and reduce liquid by half, then spoon liquid over mussels and serve with bread.
Serve with Robertson Winery Sauvignon Blanc.