What is Muscadet wine?Muscadet is one of France’s best-known white wines. French store shelves are packed with bottle after bottle of Muscadet, funny-shaped bottles bearing terms like “Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine” or “Muscadet Sur Lie”. The French know Muscadet to be a fantastic food wine, and they often use it for cooking too. Let’s take a step back and establish a few facts about Muscadet, shall we?
Did you know?Muscadet wine is produced from the Melon de Bourgogne grape variety.
Where does Muscadet come from?The wine we know as Muscadet is French, and comes from the Loire Valley. This area may be more famous for the Sauvignon Blanc-based wines of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, yet more Muscadet is made here than any other type of wine. There are four separate appellations for Muscadet wine:
Muscadet AOCThis is the generic appellation for Muscadet wine, and it covers the entire region authorised to produced Muscadet. Wines simply labelled as “Muscadet” will be the simplest and, usually, cheapest examples of the style.
Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine AOCThis appellation covers a slightly smaller part of the growing area than the generic designation, though accounts for around 80% of all Muscadet produced.
Muscadet Coteaux de la LoireThis small appellation is located in the north-west of the growing region, and is at its best during warmer vintages. In colder years, its northerly situation can lead to problems in achieving ripeness in the grapes.
Muscadet Côtes de GrandlieuThis is the newest Muscadet appellation, and is located in the south-west of the region, around the Grandlieu lake.
What does Muscadet taste like?As with all things in wine, it depends. Generally speaking though, Muscadet is a bone-dry wine, very light in body and with very high acidity and flavours of citrus fruit, minerality and some salinity. Generic Muscadet AOC wine will be the lightest and simplest tasting example, while wines from the more specific appellations may show more individual character reflecting where they’ve come from.
Muscadet sur lie:Some quality Muscadet wines are aged “sur lie”, in contact with the dead yeast cells left over following alcoholic fermentation. These wines are more complex in flavour, and have developed the sort of yeast flavours you might find in Champagne.
Food pairings for Muscadet wineIn France, Muscadet is cheap and plentiful. Its cool, refreshing flavours are perfect for hot summer days, eating virtually whatever you like al fresco. Its light body and strong acidity make it a very versatile food wine, so there are very few combinations that actually won’t work. Perhaps the classic pairing here is for Muscadet and oysters, though any seafood that you can get your hands on will work well. The wine’s slight saltiness and tingling acidity are perfect with prawns, lobster and crab meat.