Pairings: Tuna in mustard sauce perfect with pinot


If you’ve never seen a cluster of pinot noir grapes, you might not fully understand the name of our Wine of the Week, Roger Roessler Wine Cellars 2015 Black Pine Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($30).

Pinot noir clusters are shaped like unopened pine cones. And its French name translates as “black pine.”

Ahhh, now we get it!

The wine is a beauty, all the way from its packaging to its core flavors. The bottle is not one of the heavier ones often used today. It’s easy to hold even if you have a small hand. Against the black bottle is a black label, with the vintage screened back in glossy numerals and the wine’s identifying details on top in gold letters. The wine shimmers like liquid garnets in the glass, and its blackberry and black cherry flavors are deeply concentrated, woven through with threads of earth and spice. Tannins are long and smooth, but there is a depth to the wine, a richness, that will please those who dismiss pinot noir as too delicate.

The wine is ideal with duck, from rare duck burgers to seared duck breast smothered in sautéed black chanterelles. It’s delicious with olive risotto, rare lamb, rare beef, and the dark meat of chicken. Enjoy it with farro, too, topped with roasted beets and good olive oil. Pasta with red sauces that are not at all spicy and cream sauces go well with the wine, too, as does polenta with sausages braised in tomatoes and red wine.

For today’s recipe, inspiration comes from pinot noir’s home in Burgundy, where mustard is the king of condiments. Here, a rich blackberry-mustard sauce pairs with the beautiful fresh tuna we’re seeing right now. Add simple steamed farro alongside, seasoned only with salt, pepper, and good olive oil, and you have a delicious summer feast that flatters this lovely wine.

Grilled Tuna with Blackberry Mustard Sauce

Makes 4 servings

4 ahi tuna steaks, about 6 ounces each

— Kosher salt

— Black pepper in a mill

— Olive oil

3 cups fresh blackberries

1 cup dry red wine

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

3/4 teaspoon ground quatre epices (4 spice powder)

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, plus more to taste

1 tablespoon butter.

— Whole blackberries, for garnish

— Italian parsley, for garnish

Set the tuna steaks on a clean work surface or clean plate, season all over with salt and pepper and brush olive oil over all the surfaces. Cover with a sheet of wax paper and set aside.

If using an outdoor fire, prepare it before you make the sauce. If using a propane grill or an indoor grill, heat it after making the sauce.

To make the sauce, put the blackberries into a medium saucepan, add the wine, vinegar, sugar, and spices and simmer gently, until the blackberries break down and the sauce thickens a bit. Let cool slightly and either pass through a food mill into a clean pan or purée with an immersion blender, strain, and return to a clean pan. Set over low heat, add the mustard and season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside and keep warm.

Cook the tuna steaks, searing them for 1 minute per side for rare and 2 minutes per side for medium rare. Do not cook past medium rare.

Pour sauce into four plates and set a tuna fillet on tip. Drizzle with a little more sauce, season with salt and pepper, garnish with blackberries and parsley and enjoy right away.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date, including “The Good Cook’s Book of Mustard.” Email her at