The French Loire Valley’s Muscadet is one of the most food friendly and versatile white wines on the planet. Not to be confused with the sweet wines made from the Muscat grape, Muscadets are almost always produced dry, Martini dry.

Like many great French white wines, Muscadet, which comes from the Atlantic end of the Loire Valley near the city of Nantes, is not so much fruity as it is textured, with a range of subtle aromas and flavors that don’t leap out at you but reward careful attention. It is made from the melon de Bourgogne grape; and good Muscadet, surprisingly, can age beautifully, sometimes for decades.

Muscadets that we most encounter in the states are bottled ‘Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie’. The Sevre & Maine are the two rivers that run through the appellation. The term ‘Sur Lie’ refers to the Lees or left over yeast particles that settle on the bottom of the cask after the fermentation process. In Muscadet it is a tradition to stir the lees which add a textural weightiness or increased body in the wine adding a greater depth and complexity of flavor.

Considered to be the perfect match with Oysters on the Half Shell, Muscadet is also an excellent choice as an aperitif before dinner or would work nicely with anything that would usually call for a crisp, un-oaked white.

And please, drinking the wine too cold will mute the subtleties of these wines. If you don’t believe me, try it straight out of the refrigerator. Then try it again after it’s had 30 minutes to warm a bit. You’ll find two different wines.

If you want to experience the joys of Muscadet first hand, you should head down to the Woodsman Restaurant which features an Oyster Hour daily from 5-6 pm in which you can save some money and enjoy an excellent selection of Muscadet by the glass or by the bottle.

Dr. Vino (Rory Olson) is the proprietor of Portland Wine Merchant located at 1430 SE 35th just off Hawthorne Blvd.

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