Simple Pleasures

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When we think of great food our imagination can be forgiven for conjuring up images of sizzling, perfectly cooked steaks, or the memory of a sublime creation with exotic ingredients and a stunning sauce from the kitchen of a magical restaurant visited on a past journey. But few of us are able to eat meals like that everyday, and even if we could, I do not believe many would choose to.

muscadet wine and salmonInstead, we enjoy much simpler pleasures on a day-to-day basis. Simplicity in no way diminishes the beauty of a perfectly toasted piece of bread slathered with butter. Just the smell of it not only makes the mouth water, but can also conjures up so many comfortable memories stretching back to childhood. I would say that qualifies as great food.

The same goes for a humble piece of fruit, just picked and running with succulent juices. Or a salad, thrown together with items from a backyard garden, so fresh that they are still redolent with the smell of the rich earth that produced it. All very simple, yet remarkably available every day, and intensely pleasurable.

Wines can be the same way. We look for huge flavors and aromas. Complexity is equated with quality. But just because a big complex wine is a quality wine does not mean that a simple wine is unworthy. After all, wine is an exceptionally simple beverage basically created from a single, simple ingredient, grapes.

As I live in a part of the U.S. that is warm almost all of the year, hot for well over half of the year, and un-Godly hot for at least 4 months of it, I tend to drink a lot of crisp, refreshing white wines. One of my favorites is a very simple, bright tasting wine that a lot of people haven’t heard of.

Muscadet is a dry wine made from the Melon de Bourgogne grape. This grape was originally grown in the Burgundy region but found a home in Loire after it was ordered destroyed in it’s home region. Muscadet is most produced in the Nantes region of the Loire Valley.

This is one of those wines that does not have the greatest reputation. In the past many of these wines earned a reputation for being thin and weak tasting. This is not so great for the producers, but it is great for wine lovers, as the prices are usually low.

Muscadet has a crisp, citrusy taste that makes it the perfect accompaniment for seafood dishes. It is left to ferment on its lees which adds a slight bread-like complexity and imparts the slightest amount of fizziness. Try this with a plate of mussels or some simply cooked fish and you will probably become a big fan. I find it to be a light and refreshing drink on hot days, as well.

Simple wine paired with simple food can be a wonderful experience.