Mussels taste like the sea and are slightly sweet, salty, and mild in flavour. Thus, for simple preparations, you’ll need lighter white wines to not crush the mussel’s delicate flavours. For mussels in stews, soups or pasta, you’ll have a lot more opportunity to get creative with your wine pairings.
For Steamed Mussels, crisp and steely wines like Muscadet, Chablis, Pinot Grigio, Vermentino, or Sauvignon Blanc. Sparkling wines like Champagne, Cava or Prosecco work as well, as these neutral wines will not overpower the subtle mussel flavours. With Mussels in a broth, feel free to pull out acidic red wines like Pinot Noir, Rosé, or Beaujolais.
Muscadet and Steamed Mussels Pairing
Muscadet is a bone-dry, and light-bodied white wine from the Loire Valley of France. Made with the Melon de Bourgogne grape, Muscadet is lean and green, with a salty citrus taste that makes it perfect with Steamed Mussels. You’ll also find green apple and pear notes in this wine, that further elevate this pairing.
Steamed Mussels & Chablis Pairing
Mussels taste like the sea and have a mild taste to them. Chablis, which is an unoaked Chardonnay from France, has a chalky mineral flavour to it, combined with an apple crispness. When paired with Chablis, you’ll taste both the wine and meat on the finish, while the chalky flavours of the wine complement the salty mussel flavours, and the apple notes of the wine elevate this pairing.
Sauvignon Blanc & Steamed Mussels Pairing
Sauvignon Blanc is a steely and crisp white wine that has herbal and bittersweet grapefruit notes. It’s wonderful with seafood in general as it provides an electrifying acidity that amplifies the mild flavours. You’ll want to stay away from oaked Sauvignon Blanc (which isn’t all that common), and stick to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a Sancerre.
Sancerre is known for underlying flavours of gunflint, smoke or steeliness with intense notes of peach and gooseberries. When paired with Steamed Mussels, we just love how the steeliness of the wine interacts with the ocean kissed flavours of the mussels. In a pinch, a Pouilly Fumé will work just as well.
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is a little more pungent, with an herbal quality on the nose. If your steamed mussels have anything green sprinkled on them, such as Dill, Thyme, or Rosemary, you’ve found your perfect partner in crime.
Vermentino and Fried Mussels Pairing
Vermentino is a light-bodied white wine aromas of pear, peach, lime, grapefruit and crushed gravel. The crushed gravel flavours complements the the subtle salty-sea like flavours of fried mussels, while the fruit flavours electrify the mild taste.
You’ll find two styles of Vermentino, which are floral and zestier, and another style where you’ll get an almost oily or buttery/creamy sensation on the tongue. Both are exceptional with Fried Mussels in their own way. The zestier version is a nice contrast against the fried flavours, while the buttery Vermentino style complements the fried dish.
Pinot Noir & Mussels in a Tomato Broth
Mussels aren’t just enjoyed on their own, but can be enjoyed in a Jambalaya, in Tomato Broth, as part of a soup or as part of a stew or chowder. Still, their flavours or delicate, so you wouldn’t want to pair it up with a harsh red wine like a Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz that could crush the delicate flavours.
Pinot Noir walks right on the edge of having enough flavour, along with acidity, to handle most mussel dishes. We particularly love Pinot Noir with Mussels in a Tomato broth as the acidity in this red wine won’t taste flat against the tomato’s acidity. Meanwhile, the earthy yet bright and fruity flavours of Pinot Noir bring new factors to this food pairing equation. You’ll marvel at how the acidity makes the tender mussel meat shine, while the bright strawberry flavours of the wine carry through to the finish. Meanwhile, the earthy and barn-house notes of a well-made Pinot Noir add an incredible amount of playful mystery to your taste buds that make you pause mid-meal and say ‘wait a minute… why is this so delicious!”
Pinot Noir with Creole Style Jambalaya (containing mussels) is exceptional.