Mardi Gras is known for the wild celebrations and the overabundance of food! Louisiana’s creole cuisine blends ancestral influences to create a delicious mix of dishes that feature staple ingredients like rice, meats, fresh seafood, and mouthwatering creole seasonings with a kick. Traditional dishes like gumbo and jambalaya typically have one thing in common if nothing else: SPICE! Authentic creole dishes often boast flavors of cayenne, paprika, and pepper sauces to get the perfect amount of heat and flavor. When looking to pair a wine with these spicy traditional meals it can be difficult but once you find the perfect wine it won’t just pair with the food, it will compliment and enhance both the food and wine!
The there are a few key things to remember:
- Look for a wine high in acidity, and low in alcohol like a crisp, cool white. High alcohol content can accentuate heat, while a high acidity will enhance the spice and buttery richness making the flavors of the dish “pop”.
- Try off-dry whites that feature aromatic fruit flavors to contrast and balance the flavors in spicy cuisine.
- Avoid heavily oaked wines that dominate spicy flavors rather than enhance them.
- Avoid red wines that are high in tannins and alcohol content, like Cabernet Sauvignon, which can over power/compound the spicy flavors and can make the wine taste bitter.
Traditional Creole Cuisine Wine Pairings
Gumbo is the official signature dish of Louisiana and with good reason. Whether you prefer it with sausage, shrimp, or chicken white wine like Sauvignon Blanc tends to be the most versatile pairing while red wine low in tannins like a flexible Pinot Noir can do the job.
Jambalaya is another classic dish that’s representative of Louisiana’s classic creole cuisine. Like other spicy dishes, it calls for a wine with a hint of sweetness and acidity that will cut through the spice but not over power it where something high in tannin content will compound that spicy flavor.
Cajun Cuisine features rich, buttery, flavorful spices that often require a crisp, cool white like Sauvignon Blanc to cut through the dish’s spice.
Cajun Seafood Entrées can be loaded with shellfish, catfish, shrimp creole, crayfish, and other seafood. Refreshing wines like a traditional Riesling or Gewürztraminer are perfect matches as they compliment both seafood and spice.
King Cake is the traditional dessert served during Mardi Gras. With festive sugar and frosting on top, this brioche style baked bread can have a plethora of filings. Pairing a these sweet cakes with sweet sparkling wines is almost always the go to. Spanish Cavas or sweet Moscato d’Asti make the perfect pair and it’s best to avoid dry sparkling wines.
Pairing spicy foods and wine can seem incredibly intimidating but if you remember the helpful tips we listed earlier, you’ll be a pro in no time!