Even without the parade, Mardi Gras is still a day to celebrate. In fact, it’s easy to put together a Mardi Gras fête at home that honors the rich culinary traditions of New Orleans.
Cajun cuisine is beloved for its heat and smothered sauces. When you pair Mardi Gras favorites with the right glass of wine, you’ve got yourself a party.
This week, we’re spicing things up with a wine pairing guide for our favorite Louisiana Creole and Cajun dishes. Laissez les bon temps rouler!
Hot Tips for Cajun and Creole Pairings
While Cajun and Creole dishes are made in a variety of cooking methods, they are generally somewhat spicy. Regardless of the type of protein, you want to consider the level of heat when picking a wine so you don’t set your palette ablaze.
In general, when it comes to Cajun and Creole dishes, you can’t go wrong with an aromatic low-ABV white wine or a rosé.
Alcohol will exacerbate heat, so be sure to stick with a low-ABV varietal when enjoying spicy dishes. A wine you can chill is also a plus, since a cold beverage makes a good companion for hot foods.
When it comes to dishes that are not necessarily spicy, but heavily spiced or salty, a slightly sweet wine is usually a good choice. That’s why an off-dry Riesling or Gewürztraminer will work well across the board.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t pop open a bottle of red. Just be sure to stick with a light- to medium-bodied varietal with mild tannins, like Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, or Malbec.
9 Wine and Cajun and Creole Pairings
Made with sausage, shrimp, or chicken, gumbo is a classic Cajun dish. This boldly flavored soup pairs well with a light and crisp white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or Albariño. Red wine lovers can go with a low-tannin red wine like Pinot Noir.
Smothering, a technique similar to braising, is popular in Cajun and Creole cuisine and imparts a ton of flavor. With caramelized onions, fresh herbs, and a kick of cayenne, crawfish étouffée uses this technique to pack a flavorful punch. Since it’s usually spicy, choose an aromatic white wine like an off-dry Riesling, Viognier, or even an oaked Chardonnay. You could also go with a light-bodied red wine like Beaujolais or a Garnacha rosé.
This popular Creole rice dish made with a combination of shrimp, andouille sausage, and chicken is an excellent main course at any Mardi Gras gathering. Enjoy this flavorful favorite with an off-dry Riesling or an aged Rioja – a Spanish red wine with soft tannins and a slight earthiness.
Shrimp Creole or Cajun Catfish
When it comes to broiled or smothered seafood entrees, your best bet is going to be a white wine. An aromatic, slightly sweet white wine like Riesling or Gewürztraminer will pair nicely, or you could go with a dry light-bodied wine like Sauvignon Blanc.
Red Beans & Rice
This Creole classic is now a staple in many Louisiana restaurants. Keep in mind that this is not always a vegetarian dish. Often doused in hot sauce and infused with the rich flavor from a ham bone or smoked sausage, this dish pairs well with a medium-bodied white wine like Gewürztraminer or Chardonnay, or a light-bodied red wine like Pinot Noir or Beaujolais.
Whether it features fried jumbo shrimp or fried redfish, a po-boy is always a crowd-pleaser. With crunchy lettuce, pickles, and a creamy remoulade, this tasty sandwich pairs well with a light-bodied sparkling wine like Cava or Champagne.
Another popular New Oreleans sandwich, the Muffaletta is typically made with meats like salami and ham, sliced cheese, and olives. Enjoy this southern favorite with a medium-bodied slightly earthy red wine like Rioja or Schiava – an Italian red with notes of strawberry and smoke.
On a hot Louisiana spring day, a crawfish boil is a real treat. While you might think that a steaming pot of corn, potatoes, and spicy crawfish needs an ice cold beer, the truth is that certain wines are just as refreshing. The trick is to go with a light-bodied wine you can chill. Go with a sparkling wine like Prosecco, a sparkling rosé, or an off-dry Riesling.
Finally, no Mardi Gras celebration is complete with a king cake. This sweet brioche cake pairs well with a sweet sparkling wine like Moscato d'Asti, or a sweet white wine like Moscato. If you go with another sparkling wine, just be sure to look out for “demi-sec” or “doux” (meaning sweet) on the label, and avoid anything “brut” (meaning very dry). When it comes to dessert, you always want your wine to be sweeter than your sweet treat.
In Vino Finito
We hope you enjoyed these Marti Gras wine and food pairings! Is there another Cajun or Creole dish you love to make at home? Email us and we can help you find the right wine to pair with it!