Quick Weeknight Meal: Cod Packets with Graves – #Winophiles

Graves on a Weeknight
I usually prepare in advance for our #Winophiles group. Study the region, find a recipe, purchase the wines, prepare the meal on Sunday, work on the post during the week, post on Saturday morning, then chat. I was all set this week with Jura wines, right on track. Wednesday I realized that our Jura visit is in October; OOPS. And I had an event on Wednesday evening. Time to sprint!

scrape together a meal

scrape together a meal

I had a Graves wine in the wine frig, more luck than prepared. We also had some fish and shrimp in the freezer, and the makings for a grill packet. Let’s see if we can pull it off!

Bordeaux wine region map. Courtesy of www.bordeaux.com

Graves is the region marked “South-West” on the map. Courtesy of http://www.bordeaux.com

Graves is in Bordeaux
On the Bordeaux map above, you can see that Graves is in the region marked “Southwest” in the lower left corner. Graves is actually the general name of the whole region marked Southwest with smaller named areas inside, including Graves proper. While there are some premier red wines made from the region, it’s best known for its white wines and sweet dessert wines.

The white wines are made from a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon grapes. They are crisp and acidic and may taste similar to Sauvignon Blanc or not, depending on how much Semillon is in the blend.

Graves - keep one in your frig at all times

Graves – keep one in your frig at all times

Château Graville-Lacoste Graves AOC 2014 ($20 at France 44 or online)
Eye: Clear, pale lemon yellow color
Nose: Initially flinty and mineral, citrus and herbal notes emerge
Mouth: A touch more body than a typical Sauvignon Blanc, but balanced with strong fruit and tart high acidity.

Cod packet with bonus shrimp on a lentil bed makes it French!

Cod packet with bonus shrimp on a lentil bed makes it French!

Cod Packets Cooked on the Grill
In an attempt to introduce a French element in the dish, I cooked up some lentils, how often do Americans cook lentils; trick question. Never. I love the flavor and texture of lentils, but they are just about the most boring food in photos, so I added some finely diced carrots for color.  Even with few spices, the combination of the shrimp, olives and garlic led to some big flavors, nicely balanced by the quieter lentils. The wine was just right, it had just enough body to go toe-to-toe with the flavors and the acidity to cleanse the palate, especially from the garlic!

Petit Guiraud Sauternes

The second wine from a top producer can be a killer deal!

Sweet Wines of Graves
Sauternes is the best known area for the sweet wines of the region, but it isn’t the only one. This particular area on the banks of the Garonne has perfect conditions for botrytis, or “noble rot” to form on the grapes in the fall. The weather needs to be just so: foggy evenings & mornings, sunny days and no fall rains until after harvest. The rot doesn’t form in every vineyard every year, but the grapes have plenty of time to hang and increase their sugars.  Many Sauternes are incredibly expensive, coming from vineyards which are reliably afflicted by noble rot virtually every year.  However, some lesser vineyards produce very pretty, enjoyable dessert wines that may be affected by varying degrees from year to year. So, if you see an inexpensive one, don’t hesitate to give it a try! For example, our Petit Guiraud is a second wine from a 1er Grand Cru Classe Sauternes winemaker.

Petit Guiraud Sauternes AOC 2013 ($13 locally or online)
Eye: Clear, medium lemon yellow
Nose: Clean, rich honey, lemons, oranges, something sweet and unctuous. Fun to just smell!
Mouth: Rich, creamy mouthfeel, ripe citrus fruit, bright acidity with a clean, long finish. Lovely with dessert or just by itself.

While we're at it, Sauternes is in the Graves region

While we’re at it, Sauternes is in the Graves region

Sauternes Pairings
Your first thought for Sauternes would be for dessert and you’d be right. I like to pair it with fruit and cream types of desserts. Interestingly, a bit of care is required, as the wine needs to be sweeter than the food or else it will take on a thin, astringent character in comparison. The grilled peaches and ice cream were a nice pairing, although I might stick with just whipped cream as the ice cream was borderline too sweet.

A fascinating alternative is the other classic Sauternes pairing: foie gras.  Served as an apertif or 1st course, the contrast of the sweet with the decadently rich foie gras is delicious.  P.S. You can even use a rich, smooth paté to similar effect.

French Winophiles Tackle Graves
Illustrating the best in food, wine and travel from these spots are the following writers and bloggers:

Jeff from Food Wine Click! gives us a Quick Weeknight Meal: Cod Packets with Graves

Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm offers A Gravelly Bordeaux

Michelle from Rockin’ Red Blog is Diving Into Bordeaux Wine with Winophiles: Graves

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla is having Pizza Night with a Lalande de Pomerol 2011

Jill at L’occasion we are celebrating Harvest in Bordeaux 

Join us Saturday, September 17th at 10:00 am central for a live twitter chat using #Winophiles and share your favorite food, wine and travel experiences featuring Graves and Entre-Deux-Mers.

Join us for our upcoming tours:

October 15th – Jura

November 19th – Cahors and Beaujolais

Graves Bordeaux wine with cod and shrimp

Cod Packets

This is a quick but flavorful weeknight meal with ingredients which are easy to keep on hand in the freezer and pantry. Served on a bed of green lentils with finely diced carrots and a side of grill-wilted swiss chard.


  • 8 oz. of fish filets, fish of your choice (cod, halibut, salmon are all great)
  • 6 oz. raw, peeled, deveined shrimp
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup of calamata olives, pits removed, cut in half
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


  • Pre-heat your grill to a high heat setting
  • Combine the tomatoes, olives, garlic, EVOO, and lemon zest in a bowl
  • Lay out two sheets of heavy duty aluminum foil (about 12″x18″)
  • Place half the ingredients from the bowl in the center of each sheet
  • Top with the fish filet
  • Place the shrimp on top of the fish
  • Roll and fold the aluminum foil into a tube, leaving a bit of room for steam
  • Pinch down and roll the ends to make a sealed envelope
  • Place the packets on the grill for about 15 minutes.  The packets will puff up from steam to let you know they are done.
  • When you open the packets (careful of the steam), place the fish first, then the shrimp, then top with the tomatoes and olives.

Fall comes early in Minnesota, break out the lights!

Fall comes early in Minnesota, break out the lights!

9 Responses to “Quick Weeknight Meal: Cod Packets with Graves – #Winophiles”
  1. Lynn says:

    Looks like your sprinting resulted in a nice ending! I hadn’t had but one or two white Bordeaux until last year. Dove into them and found several fantastic bottles including Clos Floridène, Château Carbonnieux/La Croix de Carbonnieux, Domaine de Chevalier, Les Haut de Smith Blanc (if a touch of wood is your thing, and more affordable than their other white). Thanks for an enjoyable post!

  2. Wendy Klik says:

    You amaze me. You just happen to be able to pull two wines from your stock and create perfect pairings without any prior planning. Who does that??

  3. Great quick pull together. I love that we had the same wine. Plus Sauternes…heaven! The meal looks delicious as always and I appreciate how you reveal your lighting. Great to have you this month Jeff!

  4. Even when you’re on the fly, your dishes and pics turn out beautifully! I think next time we should give you a Mystery Box full of strange ingredients. 😀

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