Provençal Pairings: Wine with Food

Muscat Love

by David Scott Allen

Winery: Vidal-Fleury
Cuvée: Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise
Appellation: Beaumes de Venise
Type: White
Vintage: 2010
Grape Varieties: Muscat à petit grain (100%)
Alcohol: 15.0%
Average Retail Price (375ml): U.S. $17.50, France €16.50

It’s been twelve months of Provençal wine and food pairings now, and I imagine you have seen some patterns.  I love pairing special meals with special wines, and sharing the experiences with special people.  Which makes me chuckle when I think of how the French use the descriptor “special” in not so nice a way.  «Ouai, ça c’est très special…» But, I digress…

Special, to those of us in the United States, is indeed special. Like the cake I recently made to celebrate our friend Barbara’s 60th birthday.  A Gâteau Saint-Honoré is a special occasion cake, and my mother once made one for my birthday.  At some level, I needed to find out the lengths to which she went for me… After making the cake, let’s just say that choosing a companion wine was much easier than making the cake!

Provence is rich in dessert-appropriate wines, and I opted for a bottle of Muscat de Beaumes de Venise from Vidal-Fleury.  This delightful wine from the Rhône region is strong enough to hold its own against intense cheeses and dark chocolate.  Now it would need to hold its own with a significant amount of cream.  On the nose, we all sensed pear and citrus.  The first taste – prior to trying the cake – was distinctly of honey and Comice pear; the word “nectar” is the best way to describe the taste and mouth feel.  A little further tastebud exploration brought out green apple and honeysuckle – an incredibly unctuous and luxurious mouthful.  After first bites of the Gâteau – a bite that included puff pastry, choux paste, crème patissière, and crème Chantilly – the honey and pear remained the strongest notes.  When we got to the outer edges of the cake – cream-filled choux paste balls dipped in dark caramel – the wine took on a smokey tone that we all loved.

It shines alongside creamy confections, such as my gâteau (you can find the recipe on Cocoa & Lavender), and pairs beautifully with a flourless chocolate cake served with fresh berries.  This terrific dessert wine also works well as an apéritif.  For cheese pairings, I suggest sweet Gorgonzola, Explorateur, and aged Parmigiano-Reggiano.  This wine is also lovely with seared fois gras and all variety of liver pâtés and mousses.

PS – the title of this post is for those of us who remember (with regrets) the song Muskrat Love by The Captain &Tenille

Post and Photos by David Scott Allen


  1. Hello David! You’re really a “Provençal convaincu”…
    Tennille said (Toni Tennille Show 1980) about “Muskrat Love” : “Every time I sing this song, I think of Henry Kissinger…” (?)
    Pierrot from Manosco, with Muskrat, Zinfandel, Muscat & Gewürztraminer love…

  2. Merci, Pierre! I do love my Provençal wines, you know.

    And, I actually know the Kissinger story to which you referred. When the Captain & Tenille played for the White House in the late ’70s, Henry Kissinger was in the front row, a little more than a meter away from her. Throughout the entire performance, he sat there, with his arms crossed, staring up at her, with a very grumpy/sour look on his face. Thus, every time she sings it, she thinks of him!

    Much love to you and Muriel.

  3. I refuse to remember Muskrat Love but do love the article. As usual, you have not shied away from the challenge of making a très intimidating gâteau. Hopefully I can locate a bottle of this for the festive season – for either the foes gras or dessert. Thank you for the recommendation and happy holidays!

  4. The cake and the wine sound excellent!

  5. Thanks, Terri! You will love them both!

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