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La Motte - The Power of the Sauce

With food and wine pairings at the order of the day on blog posts and as an activity on wine estates and in restaurants, many of us know that finding the perfect food and wine combination is about more than white wine with fish and red wine with steak.

The way the dish is cooked, the spices, the side dishes and the sauce greatly contribute to the ideal food and wine combination.

Mushroom sauce is a very popular accompaniment to steak, but how does it influence your wine choice? The earthiness of mushrooms generally work well with a wine that has an earthy character, but often there is not much left of this earthiness when all the cream and pepper and even a bit of sherry or brandy have been added to a traditional mushroom sauce.

What do to?

We recommend a wine with a good tannin structure, such as a Cabernet Sauvignon (try the 2012 La Motte Cabernet Sauvignon) that will not be intimidated by a creamy sauce. It would also be the best choice if your cut of meat is quite fatty.

When the mushrooms are served grilled rather than in a cream sauce, a wine with earthy undertones such as a Pinot Noir or a more fruity red with spicy notes, such as Shiraz or Syrah (of course we suggest the 2012 La Motte Syrah) might work very well. In this case it would however be better if the meat is not too fatty – think fillet with grilled mushrooms.

Why not try this lovely recipe for a Mushroom Ketchup from our Cape Winelands Cuisine Cookbook – a great alternative to the creamy mushroom sauce!

Mushroom Ketchup

Makes: 3 cups (750 ml)

This recipe was found in an eighteenth-century Cape cookbook and has been adapted for the modern palate. Serve with grilled steak or roast beef.


4 medium onions

2 Tbsp (30 ml) coarse sea salt

3 Tbsp (45 ml) Olive or sunflower oil

1kg flied mushrooms or brown mushrooms, chopped

½ cup (125 ml) balsamic vinegar

¾ cup (190 ml) red wine vinegar

1 cup (250 ml) sweet sherry

1 Tbsp (15 ml) brown sugar

1 Tbsp (15 ml) honey

1 sprig fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh marjoram

1 tsp (5 ml) ground allspice

1 tsp (5 ml) ground coriander

½ (2.5 ml) freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp (5 ml) smoked paprika (optional)

2 tsp (10 ml) chopped anchovy fillets


Preheat the oven to 180 ˚C (350 F).

Place the onions on the coarse sea salt on a tray and roast for about 20 minutes until tender. Chop finely and set aside.

Heat a large saucepan, add the oil and cook the mushrooms over a high heat for 3 minutes.

Add the remaining ingredients, including the onions, and cook for 30minutes over a low heat.

Blend or chop the mixture coarsely, return to the saucepan and reduce until thick.

Place in sterilised jars.

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