It’s not just for dessert!

It’s not just for dessert!


picture courtesy of The Second Glass

Just back from Bordeaux and so much to talk about! One of my favorite stops on my tour was the left bank town of Sauternes. We stayed at a lovely hotel set right on the vineyards of Chateau d’Arche that produces some of the area’s finest Sauternes.

The wines of Sauternes are sweet wines made mostly from the Semillon grape that are created when  grapes are affected by what we call “noble rot” or botrytis. This fungus grows best in climates where misty fall mornings fade into sunny afternoons–this describes Sauternes to a T!

Botrytis concentrates the sugars and makes the grapes shrivelled, as shown in this picture.  To complicate things, the grapes in each bunch are affected at different times so it is necessary to harvest in waves where pickers select each berry one by one. This is one reason why these wines are usually not inexpensive.

Wine Tube & Bottle…paired with the Monkfish and Shrimp course!

While Sauternes is sweet it also has amazing fruit flavors and relatively high acidity which prevents it from seeming overly sweet or what we wine geeks call cloying. This combination of fruit, sugar and acidity also makes it a great pairing for a variety of foods not just dessert. To prove this point, our dinner at Chateau d’Arche paired each course from appetizer to dessert with a wine from Sauternes. Some of my favorite pairings included a spicy sausage appetizer made with wasabi covered sesame seeds and a main course of monk fish and shrimp with a lime infused sauce. Of course it went great with dessert but it was wonderful to taste how it can be used in so many other pairings including spicy foods, Asian foods and, of course, with very rich dishes like seared foie gras.
Another light-bulb moment that occurred was when we were all introduced to the new packaging that many wineries in Bordeaux are experimenting with – Wine in Tube. Winemakers are bottling their wines in these 10 cl tubes (a little over 3 oz.)  to be offered to consumers for smaller portions or used in retail stores as a lower cost way to sample wines. The tube is pictured here by a bottle of Sauternes  and with the shrimp & monkfish dish. I think there is real promise for these tubes and I was told by the wine makers that these were approved for carry-on to planes. Guess who was sipping Sauternes on her way back to America? I can’t wait till these are available in the US–Now that would be totally tubular!