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May 4, 2007 12:38 PM

What to serve w/ shrimp and grits?

I'm preparing an old New Orleans staple, a gouda-inflected shrimp and grits, for a dinner party tomorrow. I have a really nice, albeit young, Storybook Mountain Zinfandel I was planning to serve with it, on the theory that the fruit and general boldness of the zin will pair well with the bacon and cheese of the shrimp and grits (I do not envision preparing the dish particularly spicy; there will be several kinds of bell peppers but nothing hotter than that).

BUT, as I know not everyone enjoys zin, and I want to provide plenty of variety, any other thoughts on what might pair well? The most obvious thing that came to mind was another blunt-force type of wine like California chardonnay, but I was hoping to find something with a bit more subtlety. Ideas I considered included a fuller-fruited red Burgundy, or a Chateaunneuf du Pape, or perhaps some kind of a white.....

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  1. Shrimp, cheese, cream, mild corn flavour from the grits, vegetal flavours from the peppers, smokiness from the bacon: YYMV but it all screams white to me. Though some prefer to go with the flow, to pile rich on rich, my palate would beg for contrast and relief, so I'd incline toward a dry, minerally, acidic white that had seen little or no oak, an unoaked Chardonnay; a Vermintino or Verdicchio or similar Italian; a restrained Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire, Bordeaux or California; etc.

    FWIW, my usual version of S&G, which includes jalapeno peppers, lime juice and cilantro and no pork, is a certifiably great match for New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

    1 Reply
    1. re: carswell

      If true to NO cuisine standards, there will be no cilantro or jalapeňo. OTOH, your recipe sound great! In that case, a SB should pair well. Many vintages ago, Sanford (back when he and Benedict were still together, maybe 1997) did a Central Coast SB, that had wonderful jalapeňo notes. I bought all of that vintage, that was still on shelves in Denver, but those elements have not appeared in that wine since - maybe because of the partnership split, and some limitation to access to the Benedict vineyard. Even though they are working together again, it's just not the same.


    2. If you like the zin, you should serve it. Period. Pairing wine and food should be fun.

      However, if you really want to get analytical, I would say that you’re right in pairing a bold wine with boldly flavored foods. If you were adding spice/heat to the dish, I would hold off on the zin since many bottles are in the 15+ alcohol range and that alcohol will intensify the spiciness.

      A chardonnay would work, but make sure it’s not a butter bomb; you need a wine with ample acidity and fruit to compliment the food.

      Other options… a tempranillo from Spain (Rioja, Ribera del Duero), dolcetto from Italy or a grenache from the southern rhone. My first pick since the weather is warmer and these wines are just being released is a rose; preferably a rosato from Italy, but any will do and they pair brilliantly with wine.

      Relax and have fun!

      1 Reply
      1. re: vinosnob

        agree with vino on the last point, rose was what was I thinking about

      2. Chardonnay was what came to my mind.

        I am curious to know how the zin goes with it though. Please let us know if that is the way you chose to go.

        1. Are you preparing it ith a tomato-based creole sauce? I had a wonderful plate of that over the weekend. I agree that a chardonnay would pair well. And it would give non-red drinkers an alternative.

          1. I'd go with a Viogner or other non-Chard white. Or, at least, I'd look for a Chardoney without any oak. I think the oak wouldn't work well with the shrimp. Sauvingon Blanc is often a good choice, as would be a Chenin Blanc. Perhaps a white from the Sancerre region (almost entirely Sauvingon Blanc grapes) which often do very well with seafood but have enough body to stand up to the grits.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ccbweb

              Considering the taste profiles provided by the bacon, why would you go with an un-oaked Chard? To me, bacon has a smoky element and the oak in a well-made, albeit oaked, Chard works well with this, as do very many domestic (US) PNs. Because of the toasting of the oak barrels, a good bit of this element is transferred to the Chard.

              Just curious,

              1. re: Bill Hunt

                Basically, I'm not a fan of oaked Chards with food because I think it rounds off the corners too much and makes everything rather smooth. I prefer more acidic wines with food because I feel the flavors are more highlighted and that the cleansing effect on the palate from the wine helps enhance the flavors in the food. The dish in question is one that has a lot of roundedness and buttery mouth feel to it already, so I would look for a contrast when pairing wines.