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Surprise! Pairing Spicy and Savory Dishes with Sweet Bordeaux #Winophiles #Sponsored

 This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the event sponsors.
Complimentary wine was provided for this post and this page may contain affiliate links.
However, all opinions expressed here are my own. 

Hosted by Linda of My Full Wine Glass. You can read her invitation here. Also, thanks to Jeff of Food Wine Click! for arranging samples for the group.

If you are reading this early enough, feel to join the live Twitter chat on Saturday, November 21st at 8am Pacific time. Follow the hashtag #Winophiles and be sure to add that to anything you post so we can see it. In the meantime, these French Winophiles posts will go live between Friday, November 20th and early on Saturday, November 21st.

Sweet Bordeaux - Surprise!
For this event, the sponsoring wineries sent examples of different appellations all of which undergo botrytis - or noble rot - which is a beneficial mold that grows on ripe grapes under specific conditions. Wines made from these grapes have a rich, honeyed character.

About a year ago, I took part in a tasting of Sweet Bordeux wines. You can read my post Golden Bordeaux as 'Natural Cocktails' + Spiced Citrus Almonds. That experience completely debunked my assumption that sweet wines needed sweet pairings. So, for this event, I was determined to pair the samples I received with some spicy, savory dishes.

On the day that my wines arrived, we were leaving for a weekend trip to the redwoods. And we were picking up take-out Chinese food on the ways so we could set up camp and not worry about having to cook after set-up. So, I decided to pair the Château La Rame Sainte-Croix-du-Mont 2016 with take-out Chinese.

A single varietal wine, this is made from 100% Sémillon grapes. The grapes are harvested completely by hand and are then fermented for three to six weeks before being aged for two years before being bottled. Suggested retail is $35.

In the glass it pours a rich straw color and has notes of honey. On the palate there is a nice balance of tropical fruit and moderate acidity that offers both a freshness and a richness.

While the wine was passable with the chow mein, broccoli beef, and moo shu chicken, the only dish that I would say really complemented the wine was the spicy Mandarin chicken wings. I will have to try to replicate that recipe at home soon.

I did pour the wine again with Spiced Cheese Wafers made with Cotwold cheese.

The second Sweet Bordeaux that I poured was the 2018 Château Tanesse Palissades Moelleux. That wine was a blend of 85% Muscadelle and 15% Sauvignon Blanc with a suggested retail $16. I opted to pair it with a vegetable curry because it was fairly fruity on the palate with a decent acidity.

This pairing was not a favorite, unfortunately. Jake thought we should try the Château Tanesse with a seafood dish. So, you might see that soon, but I didn't have time to squeeze in that pairing before the French Winophiles event.

The Château du Cros 2014 Loupiac is one I've enjoyed before. It comes from a tiny region in the heart of the Right Bank and retails for $13 for a 375mL bottle. Though less sweet than what I think of as a Sauternes, this wine has the same honey character. But it's tempered with an earthiness that leans to the woodsy and nutty side. On the finish, I get a tinge of bitterness like orange peel with dried fruit sweetness. Remembering my Spiced Citrus Almonds from last year's Sweet Bordeaux pairing, I opted to make some spiced pecans and mixed in some dried cranberries. This was a nice after-dinner nibble.

In the Glass

But the bottle I am pouring with the recipe I'm sharing is the 2019 Chateau La Hargue Moelleux Bordeaux Semi-Dry with a suggested retail of $15. The name 'moelleux' means 'soft' in French and this is definitely a mild wine that bridges that gap between semi-dry and semi-sweet. I get honey on the nose with a bit of floral. But it's the citrus on the finish that intrigued me the most. I decided to pair it with bouillabaisse. 

In the Bowl

Bouillabaisse is France's classic Mediterranean fisherman's stew. From what I read, to be considered a classic bouillabaise the fish needs to be fresh, local, and at least five different kinds included. I love that the broth has orange peel, saffron, and fennel. 

  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, diced with fronds reserved for garnish, approximately 2 C
  • 2 leeks, white parts only, trimmed and diced, approximately 2 C
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes
  • 5 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup white wine (I used the leftover 2018 Château Tanesse Palissades Moelleux)
  • 2 small bay leaves
  • peel from 1 organic orange (I used a Cara Cara)
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • pinch of chili flakes or cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 pound clams (I used Littleneck)
  • 1 pound squid, cleaned
  • 3/4 pound salmon (I used wild Coho)
  • 3/4 pound mussels
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • fresh herbs for garnish (I used parsley and the fronds from the fennel)

In a Dutch oven or heavy lidded pot, melt butter in olive oil. Add in the fennel and leeks. Sweat until they are tender, but not browned, approximately 15 to 18 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until they begin to lose their shape, approximately 5 minutes. Pour in the wine. And bring to a boil. Boil until the liquid is reduced by half, then pour in the stock and water. Add in the orange peel, bay leaves, saffron, and chili flakes. Bring to a boil again, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Now, add in the seafood: first, the salmon; then the mussels and clams. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes before adding in the squid and shrimp. Simmer until the shrimp is just cooked through at the shellfish is open. This took about 10 minutes total from adding the salmon till the clams opened. Stir in the lemon juice and adjust seasoning to taste. You may think it needs more salt, pepper, and chili flakes.

Remove from heat and ladle into individual serving bowls. Garnish with parsley and fennel. Serve immediately.

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*Disclosure: I received compensation in the form of wine samples for recipe development and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the organizer and sponsors of this event.


  1. Your bouillabaisse broth sounds delicious and I can see it with that wine. Curious if you'd do anything different to the dish to pair it with this, or perhaps a sweeter wine in the future?

    1. Maybe just a splash of a licorice liqueur (Aquavit, Sambuca, or something like that)!

  2. Another one in the savory column! And totally agree that the mandarin chicken wings sound like a winner with these wines.

  3. I am making notes on both your bouillabaisse recipe and the one for the citrus almonds. They are already making me hungry!

  4. Oh my....I wonder if I could get Frank to eat that bouillabaisse. It sounds so wonderful

  5. That Bouillabasse sounds delicious! How did the wine do with it? I see that you said if you did this again you might add a licorice note. Did you find a hint of that in the wine? Or did you find the wine accentuated the fennel in the dish?

  6. Lots of good experimenting! I thought it might have worked better with the Chinese takeout than you report.

  7. I still have several of my bottles to open and you've given me so many good ideas. I have to admit that I never would have thought of Bouillabaisse with one of these, but I'm very intrigued! Also, now jonesing for those Spiced Cheese Wafers,

  8. Citrus almonds?! Literally my two favourite things in one - Thai lemongrass almonds have competition. Thanks for the idea!

  9. I can totally see the La Hargue with Bouillabaisse Cam. This was such a great theme. I just wish the wines were not so challenging to find...especially the Moelleux!


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