Saturday, June 16, 2018

Alsace Rocks the Summer Grilling Scene #Winophiles

Welcome to the June 2018 Edition of the French Winophiles.  This month we are visiting (virtually) the Alsace region and the wines that it has to offer.  Our tour guide for this trip is Jeff of Food Wine Click.  You will learn so much about this area if you take a look at his information post.

I am sharing four different food and wine pairings with you today.  I am excited to tell you what I learned about these wines through the pairings.  Plus, I am sharing a great recipe for Mussels that you can prepare right on your outdoor grill.

I was provided with an Alsace "Pairing Challenge Flight" of wines by the good folks over at Teuwen to assist with this virtual tour celebrating Alsace Rocks.  You can learn more about Teuwen and Alsace Rocks at the links I provided.  I received no monetary compensation and agreed to share at least one food and Alsace wine pairing on this blog.  All opinions and content are strictly my own.

Since it is summertime here in Michigan we are grilling fools.  We grill from the moment the weather breaks until it gets too cold to stand outside.  I am sharing each pairing as I served it.

The first pairing was the Dopff & Irion Pinot Blanc.  I don't believe I have ever had a white wine made with pinot grapes.  Normally, if I'm drinking Pinot, it is a Pinot Noir.

I decided to open this bottle to serve with this Grilled Ratatouille that I served up celebrating Farmer's Markets and the bounty they offer. 

I had served up some chicken kebabs the day before and had some chicken left so that was reheated and served along with the Ratatouille.

The pinot blanc poured a beautiful, light, golden color.  It is citrusy and light with a hint of spice. It was almost like biting into a grapefruit.  I thought it paired very well with the Ratatouille that is seasoned with a splash of vinegar at the end.  I would say that if you like crisp, bright, white wines then you should try a Pinot Blanc.  It is a great summertime pour.


The next wine I chose to pair was a Gewurztraminer.  I was serving some Shrimp Spring Rolls and I know that sometimes a sweeter (off dry) wine pairs well with spicy foods.  I almost went with the Riesling here and now I'm glad I didn't.  More about that in a minute.

This was my first stab at Spring Rolls and it was quite the adventure.  Pop on over and have a laugh at my expense.  We sure did.

The Gewurtz, from Domaine Pfister, was aromatic and sipped more dry than I expected but then left a sweet aftertaste that lingered.  This wine is very mellow with not much acidity that I could detect.  It paired reasonably well with the Spring Rolls.  I enjoyed this wine more than I thought I would.

The third wine I opened was the Riesling from Charles Baur.  This was a most surprising pour.  I normally do not care for Riesling and never would have tried this wine had it not been supplied for this event.  I don't care for sweet wines so imagine my surprise when I took a sip of this nearly clear wine with just a touch of gold and found it to be bone dry.

I'm talking as dry as a Sauvignon Blanc but with more citrus.  Enough citrus that you nearly pucker.  I was so pleased.  I had made a simple supper of salad studded with fruit and cheese and topped with a grilled chicken breast.  This was one of my favorite pairings of the flight.

The final sample I received was a sparkling wine from Pierre Sparr.  This Cremant Brut Reserve was the perfect choice to serve when our daughter, Jessica, brought her new boyfriend over to meet us.  Julien is from France.  He moved to the USA in 2004 to pursue a career in movie production.  Michigan was offering film companies many incentives to film their movies/commercials/music videos in our beautiful State.  

It was a heyday for a while but then the Governor that had put the program in place left office and her replacement quickly removed a lot of the benefits given to the film companies.  Julien has been able to keep his dream alive though, here in the Detroit area, and Jessica is happy he has.

I decided to make grilled mussels for our first course.  Jessica loves mussels and she had told me that Julien was "very French" and loved wine.  I soaked the mussels in salt water and then gave them a good rinse before piling them onto a double sheet of aluminum foil.  Add a couple of tablespoons of butter and quartered up a lemon.  Then I sprinkled on some of the Riesling that I had left in the refrigerator from the previous night.  Wrapped them up and put them on the grill. 

While the mussels steamed, I made a white wine reduction with onions, garlic and butter.   When it was time to serve I poured the mussels into a bowl, drenched them in the wine reduction (again using the Riesling) and served them with the Brut Reserve and a good baguette.

We enjoyed these and visited while we waited for our baked potatoes to get tender so we could throw on steaks and Asparagus with Lemon Butter.  I explained to Julien that I was a food blogger and that was why I was taking photos of all the food.  I told him that I had received this Alsace wine as a sponsor gift. 

Julien said that he had never had a sparkling wine from Alsace prior to this.  He said that in France they always go to Champagne for the sparkling wines.  He went on to say that he was very impressed with this Cremant Brut and that he thought it paired very well with the mussels.  He said "I'm no expert or anything, I just know what I like".  I think that he is going to fit into our family very well.

Julien further said that he had never had wines outside of European wines until coming to the USA.  He has taken a liking to our reds which was good because I served up a California Cab with the steaks.

Please join our chat on Twitter Chat - whether you posted or not. We love visitors and happily chat and answer questions. Simply tune in to the #winophiles hashtag on Twitter this Saturday, June 16 at 11 am EST. You can also check out the #AlsaceRocks hashtag for more Alsace fun during and after the chat. Here's a list of great Alsace wine suggestions from our Winophiles

#Frenchwinophiles, #winophiles, #Frenchwines, #winepairing, #mussels, #firstcourses, #appetizers, #grilling, #seafood,
Seafood, Appetizers, First Courses, Grilling
Seafood, Grilling
Yield: 4-6 as appetizersPin it

Grilled Mussels with a White Wine Reduction

These mussels make a wonderful start to your casual backyard get together. Cooking them on the grill lets you be outside with your guests enjoying a pre dinner cocktail or iced tea.
prep time: 15 minscook time: 20 minstotal time: 35 mins


2 lbs. farm raised mussels
kosher salt
1 stick butter, divided
1 c. dry white wine, divided
1 lemon, cut into quarters
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2  small Vidalia onion, cut into small dice


Place the mussels in a large bowl filled with salted water.  Let stand for 15 minutes.  Rinse thoroughly and sort through, discarding any mussels that won't close when tapped and placing the remainder onto a double sheet of aluminum foil.

Place 2 Tablespoons of the butter on the mussels and sprinkle with 1/4 cup of the wine.  Squeeze the lemon over the mussels, place the squeezed fruit on top of the mussels and seal the aluminum foil into a packet, leaving room for steam.

Place the remaining butter, wine, garlic and onion in a cast iron (or other grill safe) skillet.  Put the mussels packet onto the grill and allow to cook for 15-18 minutes.  Place the skillet on the other side of the grill over high heat, cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced and slightly thickened.

Pour the mussels and any juices into a large bowl.  Discard any mussels that did not open.  Pour the wine reduction over the mussels and serve with good bread to sop up the sauce and juices.
Created using The Recipes Generator


  1. As always Wendy, I enjoyed your family stories as well as your food and wine pairings. The mussels sound amazing and have me wishing for a grill! Cheers!

    1. Cheers Lauren. Thank you for the kind words and for sharing my post on social media.

  2. I am so glad you discovered that not all Rieslings are sweet. In fact, most Alsace Rieslings are dry. And dry Riesling is one of the greatest pairing wines in the world. Keep discovering Riesling you will be surprised at the diversity and wide availability of dry expressions.

    1. I can't wait to try more from this region. Thanks Michelle.

  3. I had to smile at your response to the Riesling. My wife Julie shares your distaste for sweet Rieslings. She was shocked when we visited Alsace to find most of the Rieslings bone dry and perfect to her taste (she's a huge Sauvignon Blanc fan). Glad to see you enjoyed it!

    1. It made me very happy too Jeff. Your wife has good taste.

  4. Hi Wendy, those mussels look great indeed. It’s one of my favorite dishes! Cheers!

  5. All your pairings sound delicious, but both you and Jeff got me on the mussels with the Crémant. Sounds like your future cooking could turn very French indeed!

  6. I'm glad you discovered the magic of dry Riesling! But that mussels dinner really grabbed me as did the lovely story behind it of meeting your daughter's bf.

  7. Thank you for the mussel recipe! I had not thought about doing those on the grill and now I will. I bet it went beautifully with the Crémant. It sounds like you may have created another Alsace fan in your daughters French boyfriend! Congrats on that!

  8. Looks like you had a great time with the pairings and learing about Alsace Wendy. Cheers!

  9. Fun to have someone from France part of your Alsace tasting! Interesting to hear that he hadn't tried a Cremant from Alsace.

    1. Yes, it was interesting but I guess it's not that much different from many people in the US that have only had wine from California.


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