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Moules Marinières and Klein Zalze Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc

Walking along the Seapoint promenade (again!), I suddenly had a craving for mussels. Possibly the salty air brought it on, not to mention the sight of thousands of them growing on the low-tide-exposed rocks. I mentioned my craving to my husband, and the idea, once planted, was firmly embedded and impossible to shake loose.

So mussels it had to be. We hot-footed it to the nearest supplier, and purchased our mussels. I looked up a suitable (and quick to execute) recipe in a book: Leith’s Fish Bible 1995. My adaptation is shown below.

Such a grand meal deserved an equally grand wine, so we opened a bottle of Klein Zalze Family Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010.

Once again, I forgot to take a photograph, so you will have to take my word for it that we had mussels and the KZ Sauvignon Blanc. The plates of shells and the empty glasses and bottle don’t make for a picture as enticing as the original: the plates piled high and steaming, the garlic infusing our eager senses with delight.

An added beauty of eating mussels is that they are considered acceptable to eat by SASSI (the South African Sustainable Seafood initiative), meaning that the mussel population is healthy, and mussels are not currently on the list of endangered species.

The wine was sublime – possibly amongst the best Sauvignons I have had the privilege to taste. The beauty of Sauvignon Blanc is that it is mostly quite affordable, so when you do push the boat out and spend a little more, you can discover something quite special.

The book recommends a Muscadet with the mussels, so possibly my pairing was ill-judged. However the Klein Zalze Sauvignon Blanc is a full-bodied and richly flavoured wine and it held up well to the saltiness of the mussels.

A wine-pairing website recommends the following wines with Moules Marinières:
Pouilly-fumé White

I am still a bit shy of putting my own impressions down in print, in the event I may get something hopelessly wrong, but I smelled and tasted gooseberry, pears and golden delicious apples. My one reservation was that I think we drank it a bit too young. The acids could have been a bit softer, and to me it could have done with a year or two more in the bottle.

The Klein Zalze website reads: “A wine with a balance of tropical green pea and fig flavours backed with full floral herbaceous undertones on the palate. This full bodied Sauvignon Blanc shows a good balance of the characteristics of the five different terroirs”

This wine has won more awards than I can mention here. See Klein Zalze Awards for more details.

Moules Marinières

1 large onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley
200 ml water
200 ml dry white wine (I couldn’t bring myself to cook with the Klein Zalze, so I opted for something more modest here)
1 kg prepared mussels
50 g butter
Pepper (the recipe I used also stipulates salt, but the mussels and butter are salty, and I regretted adding it. Go wild with the pepper though)

Simmer the onion, garlic, parsley, wine and water for about 10 minutes.
Add the mussels, cover and steam for just a few minutes, until the shells open and they are heated.
Remove the mussels by pouring into a colander – with a bowl underneath it to catch the sauce (I will blondely admit that I once lost a lovingly prepared stock by pouring the solids into the colander whilst the good stuff went down the drain), discarding any that did not open.
Return the sauce to the pan and reduce it a bit.
Stir in the butter and season with the pepper.
The recipe did not specify any lemon, but I think a squeeze of lemon juice wouldn’t hurt at this juncture.

Serve in large bowls with lots of crusty bread to mop up the sauce.