Muscadet (“muss-kuh-day”) is a bone-dry, light-bodied white wine from the Loire Valley of France that is made with Melon de Bourgogne grapes. Muscadet is loved as an excellent food pairing wine due to its minerally, citrus-like taste and high acidity. The appellation, Muscadet Sèvre et Maine, is the largest and most important region for high quality Muscadet.
Guide to Tasting and Pairing Muscadet Wine
Muscadet (Melon) is a wine for those who love anything-but-fruity wines. They are lean, green, and have a fascinating almost saline-like quality to the taste. In fact, the Muscadet vineyards closer to the sea receive more of this salty note due to salty sea breezes! It is common to see these wines aged on the lees (labeled “sur lie”) which is a process of aging wines on suspended dead yeast particles (called lees). Lees-aged Muscadet attain an almost lager-like taste with a creamy texture and yeasty flavor. The longer on lees, the richer the texture; many producers will age their best wines 2–3 years in this fashion. You will find a touch of fruit in these wines in the form of almost pithy citrus flavors and subtle unripe apple or pear notes.
Expect to Spend
- $14–$16 for a decent basic Muscadet Sèvre et Maine with green apple, citrus and mineral notes
- $20–$25 for a serious Muscadet Sèvre et Maine with extended lees aging (2–3 years) with aromas of fresh bread and preserved lemon.
If you like Muscadet (Melon) you’ll find it tastes similar to Pinot Blanc, Aligoté, Auxerrois, Piquepoul, Sylvaner and even unoaked cool-climate Chardonnay such as Chablis.
Food Pairing with Muscadet Wine
Light-bodied white wines like Muscadet are perfect palate cleanser wines due to their natural high acidity. They will happily stand up to zesty vinaigrettes and other high-acidity dressings. However, Muscadet’s true calling is matched with seafood, particularly if you’re a fan of bivalves (mussels, oysters, and the like). In Nantes, a favorite regional dish, called Moules Frites, is made by flash cooking mussels in a splash of Muscadet wine and tossing them with shallots and green herbs and French fries (literally “French!”).
- Mussels, Oysters, Whelks (sea snail), Scallops, Bay Shrimp (Crevettes Roses), Jumbo Shrimp, Pike, North Atlantic Salmon, Perch, Sander (very light flaky fish of the Loire river), Pan-roasted Chicken, Fried Tofu, Tempeh, Seitan
- Beurre Blanc, Fondue, Grilled Cheese, Gruyere, Swiss, Raclette, Brie, Parmesan, Gouda, Farmer’s Cheese (Queso Fresco)
- Tarragon, Chives, Thyme, Parsley, Savory, Chervil, Garlic, Shallots, Ginger, White Pepper, Nutmeg (Mace), Allspice, Turmeric
- Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichoke), French Fries (vegetable?), Spring Onions, Summer Squash, Zucchini, Turnip, Parsnip, Kohlrabi, Celeriac, Corn
A Favorite French Cooking Wine
Muscadet is the original white wine in beurre blanc sauce (white wine butter sauce). The perfectly emulsified sauce was invented by Chef Clémence Lefeuvre in the early 1900’s at her restaurant La Buvette de la Marine close to Nantes, France. Chef Lefeuvre said she had intended to make sauce bearnaise but forgot to add egg and tarragon. Beurre blanc is now a standard in French cuisine.
A Cool Climate Grape
Melon de Bourgogne (the Muscadet grape) originally came to the Loire Valley from Burgundy. It is a child of Pinot Noir and the nearly extinct Gouais Blanc and is related to Chardonnay, Gamay Noir, Auxerrois, and Aligoté (among a few others).
It grows well in cool climate marine areas and, because of this, Melon has been planted experimentally in regions such as the Puget Sound AVA (next to Seattle, WA) and the Willamette Valley AVA in places like the Van Duzer Corridor that receive cool breezes.
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