Petit Manseng is a rare grape varietal that may be hard to find but pairs very well with Asian food, particularly Southeast Asian food, if you do.
A Godforsaken Grape
Petit Manseng is mentioned in Godforsaken Grapes: A Slightly Tipsy Journey through the World of Underappreciated Wine by Jason Wilson.
The term comes from the notorious and now retired wine critic Robert Parker who essentially scolded those who recommended lesser known varieties of wine.
As Parker wrote in 2014:
Of course, they would have you believe some godforsaken grapes that, in hundreds of years of viticulture, wine consumption, etc. have never gotten traction because they are rarely of interest...can produce wines (in truth, rarely palatable unless lost in a larger blend) that consumers should be beating a path to buy and drink.
As someone who has never been a big Parker fan and his bold, overoaked palate, I am happy to be taste new grapes and venture into exciting new wine territory.
An indigenous French grape
Pronounced peh-TEE-Mahn-song, Petit Manseng is as Wilson writes, an
Aromatic, white grape from from southwest France, most notably from Jurancon and Gasgony, often found in blends with gros manseng, sauvignon blanc, and others.
Found in Australia and the US
I was lucky enough to find a single varietal Petit Manseng bottle from Savina Lane in the Granite Belt wine region of Australia where they call unusual varietals, strange birds.
Virginia is apparently making headway with the grape, since it apparently grows easily and is bulletproof in the vineyard.
Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles, CA sells bottles of Petit Manseng for a cool $50.
I wondered if people would be willing to pay that much for a relatively unknown white wine. Would you?
Winemaker Recommended Pairings
Speaking with Brad Hutchings, the winemaker and owner of Savina Lane, he said Petit Manseng pairs well with Asian food.
As a former chef himself, he further recommended pairing with seared kingfish or tuna on a bed of Asian coleslaw seasoned with wasabi, vinegar, cilantro, mint, and sweet chili sauce.
He further recommended a stir fry of shrimp with chili, lemongrass, ginger, and topped with cilantro.
A Riesling alternative?
As someone who nearly cries tears of joy when someone recommends a wine besides Riesling to pair with Asian food, I am exceedingly happy to find an alternative recommendation.
(I am not so happy about the scarcity of being able to find it.)
Pair with Southeast Asian food
Nevertheless, I can see why this wine is so amenable to Asian flavors.
Just as Riesling has a touch of petrol on the finish, especially an aged one, Petit Manseng has a herbal quality that is central to Southeast Asian cuisines that incorporate fresh lettuces, mint, and cilantro.
Specifically, I tasted rau rum, a Vietnamese variety of cilantro, that has a touch of licorice, anise, and muskiness to it.
In addition, it has lemongrass and tropical fruit notes of pineapple, mango, and kiwi.
Since it also light on the palate and refreshing, I think it is a better fit with Southeast Asian cuisines from Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia than Chenin Blanc.
Now, I just need to figure out how to smuggle more affordable Petit Manseng from Australia...
Explore Under the Radar Wines
To learn more about more these godforsaken grapes, check out these posts from the #winepw writers:
A North Macedonian Blend: Vranec and Plavec by My Full Wine Glass
An Ode to Godforsaken Grapes on Somm's Table
- An Unlikely Match: A Thai Favorite + A Qvevri-Aged Wine from the Republic of Georgia by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Cesanese, Schioppettino and More Interesting Wine to Try by Cooking Chat
Falanghina and Lagrein from California? Of course! by ENOFYLZ Wine Blog
- Godforsaken Grapes: The Book and Thoughts about Wine by Our Good Life
- Godforsaken Grapes: The Book, The Wine, The Pairing by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Pairing Blaufrankisch from Austria with Dark Soya Marinated
Chicken Legs by Chinese Food and Wine Pairings
- Pairing the Unpairable: Traditional Turkish Manti and Yogurt with Öküzgözü Rosé by The Quirky Cork
- Saperavi is Super with Khachapuri by Dracaena Wines
Southwest France: A Pool of Grape Diversity by L'Occasion
Tasting & Pairing Tannat - #WinePW Exploration of
Godforsaken Grapes by The Corkscrew Concierge
To Try in 2020: Paso Whites– Unexpected Grapes In an
Unexpected Region by Wine Predator
The Forgotten Grapes of Calabria: Gaglioppo of Ceraudo with
Salsiccia by Vino Travels
White Port: A Blend of Grape Varieties Unknown to Many by Grape Experiences
MARTIN D REDMOND says
I'm loving your tasting notes(in particular your comment about rau rum) Sounds like a great pairing. I can totally see Petit Manseng working with Asian food, and I can definitely emphasize with your feeling about a grape variety other than Riesling for Asian fare! Brava!
Linda Whipple, CSW says
Love your sense of humor and appreciate your sense of relief to know a Riesling alternative exists for Asian food, Variety is the spice of life. Viva Petit Manseng!
Pinny Tam says
What a great purchase you've made from Savina Lane! Glad you can use this bottle and educate us about Petit Manseng in this post. I don't see opah here in NJ. I guess I'd try kingfish and tuna per Brad's advice.
Nicole Ruiz-Hudson says
That meal looks fab. And could totally see it working with all kinds of Southeast Asian cuisines, per your rec. YUM. Also love the detail that Aussies call the offbeat grapes "strange birds."
Your photo of your meal looks incredible!! I have had Petit Manseng once before, but would love to try more.
I’ve only had sweet versions of this one, so will have to seek out some dry versions.
Wendy Klik says
I am going to have to be on the lookout for this varietal. We love Asian Food and your seared opah sounds and looks amazing.