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Wine for Jambalaya

brandygirl Jul 2, 2008 12:03 PM

Instead of our usual July 4th BBQ, I'm making Jambalaya with shrimp and sausage, along with a side dish of black beans and some corn bread. I'm thinking of going with a white wine, such as a Riesling Spatlese, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, or Viognier. Any thoughts?

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  1. h
    hungry_pangolin RE: brandygirl Jul 2, 2008 12:11 PM

    Certainly my first thought was Riesling or Gewurztraminer. I don't know which Spatlese you had in mind, but I was thinking Ontario or New York, as they're zippier, so more refreshing with the spices, and less likely to be overwhelmed. It depends on your jambalaya. If it's on the mild side, then SB or Viognier might be OK, but my instinct remains with a refreshing Riesling.

    My late stepfather loved jambalaya, and one night we drank sake with it. Weird, I know, but it worked.

    Have a delicious 4th of July!

    1 Reply
    1. re: hungry_pangolin
      brandygirl RE: hungry_pangolin Jul 2, 2008 12:32 PM

      Thanks for your reply. The jambalaya I'm making is pretty spicy. I have on hand a 2006 Becker Landgraf Riesling Spatlese from Germany.

      You're not the first to mention sake with jambalaya! I've heard it works well, but I don't have any sake and I'm trying to get dwindle down my overstocked wine supply.

    2. w
      whiner RE: brandygirl Jul 2, 2008 12:43 PM

      A Riesling Spatlese would work well. As would a Scheurebe Spatlese. Depending upon how spicy, a Champagne could be a great pairing (first thing I thought of) or if very spicy a Moscato d'Asti could work very well.

      1. d
        dkenworthy RE: brandygirl Jul 2, 2008 01:02 PM

        I think you should really consider a good single vineyard Zinfandel, not too over the top in terms of alcohol. This is one of my favorite matches with Cajun food in general, and Jambalaya in specific. Plus, it is very "American" for the 4th!

        14 Replies
        1. re: dkenworthy
          maria lorraine RE: dkenworthy Jul 2, 2008 07:17 PM

          You don't find that spicy jambalaya heat paired with Zin creates fire in your mouth?

          I love Riesling Spatlese with jambalaya. Classic pairing trick -- a little bit of sweet foils the heat. Tasty combo.

          1. re: maria lorraine
            Bill Hunt RE: maria lorraine Jul 2, 2008 10:20 PM

            Oops, you beat me to the punch with the heat/sweet (read fruit forward). I agree with you on the Zin. Though I love it, NOLA/So. LA cuisine is not where I'd serve it.

            For NOLA cuisine, we usually do the already mentioned Riesling, and then a PN that matches/pairs. Might be OR, or WA, or CA, or even FR (Burg), but PN does a wonderful job.


            1. re: Bill Hunt
              dkenworthy RE: Bill Hunt Jul 3, 2008 09:34 AM

              I eat a lot of cajun, and drink a lot of Zinfandel with it. It is important to stick to a Zin that is not over the top in turns of alcohol/pruney flavors. I like Ravenswood single vineyard Zins like Barricia or Monte Rosso or even Sonoma County. Also, Seghesio Sonoma County or Ridge Sonoma County are balanced to fruit/acid not alcohol/prunes. I agree that this is not the time to pull out Turley, but then, I seldom pull out block buster Zins. Also, I pour them at about 55-60 deg. F, which I think makes a big difference.

              1. re: dkenworthy
                vinosnob RE: dkenworthy Jul 3, 2008 11:28 AM

                Nalle and Scherrer also make food-friendly zins...

                1. re: vinosnob
                  maria lorraine RE: vinosnob Jul 3, 2008 12:18 PM

                  Food (with heat)-friendly?

                  1. re: maria lorraine
                    Brad Ballinger RE: maria lorraine Jul 3, 2008 12:49 PM

                    Pretty much. Nalle's wines tend to be reasonable with respect to ABV. Same with Scherrer. Tonight I'm making a grilled pork tenderloin with cascabel chile honey glaze. I've set aside a Nalle Zin to serve with it. I've served Scherrer with it before.

                    1. re: Brad Ballinger
                      maria lorraine RE: Brad Ballinger Jul 3, 2008 01:25 PM

                      It seems like the honey in the glaze is moderating the heat of the cascabel chile much like the sweetness of the wine would.

                      1. re: maria lorraine
                        Brad Ballinger RE: maria lorraine Jul 4, 2008 08:03 AM

                        Made the dish a gazillion times. Still plenty of kick. The fruitiness of the zins I pair works well.

                        1. re: Brad Ballinger
                          maria lorraine RE: Brad Ballinger Jul 4, 2008 01:14 PM

                          Good to know. I make a similar pork tenderloin dish, with a chipotle/honey/orange juice glaze. The flavors seem somewhat similar, though the cascabel (depending on quantity and individual Scoville-ness) may give your sauce more of a kick.

                          Having made this dish just shy of a gazillion times, and having been asked to bottle it for friends (let's just eat it straight out the jar, they say), the element of sweetness -- honey and fresh orange juice (reduced so that it's concentrated) -- go a long ways towards tempering the heat of the chipotle (and by inference, the cascabel) so that the pairing works. Far better, in fact, than if the sauce had no sweetness. I'm not sure either of our sauces without some sweetness would work as well pairing with red wine.

                          I drink Barbera with this sauce, sometimes a Grenache Rhone blend, even a Beaujolais. A Zin with the prototypical forward cherry fruit and snappy pepper kick pairs fairly well, though it seems a bit too heavy to my palate. The dense, extracted, high-alcohol, black- fruit Zins don't work at all ( too heavy/intense, and the higher alcohol increases the perception of heat).

                          Getting back to Jambalaya and the pairing for it: Since the dish itself does not have sweetness -- supplied by the sauce in our pork tenderloin dishes -- it helps the pairing if the wine does.

                          It's the same reasoning that goes into BBQ-sauce pairing: If, in the sauce, along with spice, there is also a little sweetness (traditionally brown sugar or molasses) it helps the wine pairing along. Not that you taste sweetness -- it's more like complexity. But the heat dampens the sweetness, the sweetness dampens the heat. Sort of a magic synergistic combo.

                          At least that's my reasoning and experience. Given a panoply of wines to try with Jambalaya (my own J is pretty darn tasty), or either of our pork tenderloin dishes, or BBQ, or Indian, or Thai, I'll always sample away and continue to see what works best with the dish, or what creates that Holy Grail "third" flavor.

                          Riesling Spatlese (sometimes even sweeter) with Jambalaya works best for me, though, as mentioned, I'm happy to try others to see if they'll beat its particular heat-sweet synergy with Jambalaya's spicy andouille sausage, ham, cayenne, "trinity," and Creole seasonings. It's sort of an Alsatian dish with a souped-up engine.

                          1. re: maria lorraine
                            Brad Ballinger RE: maria lorraine Jul 4, 2008 04:59 PM

                            Thanks for all that. Of course, I agree. I was initially responding to the zinfandel thing as it is, and not as a wine for jambalaya. Getting back to jambalaya, if I was there, I'd be glad there are plans to have plenty of beer.

                    2. re: maria lorraine
                      vinosnob RE: maria lorraine Jul 3, 2008 03:10 PM

                      Have you tried them?

                      1. re: vinosnob
                        maria lorraine RE: vinosnob Jul 3, 2008 06:50 PM

                        Yup. Nalle, in particular, and I go way back.
                        This may be a personal preference thing.
                        I don't like food-heat with wines that don't have RS.
                        The pairing doesn't seem resolved, at least, in my mouth.
                        Spicy becomes fiery: it's not enjoyable to me.

                        There is one exception: French Rose with Latina fresca.
                        That works.That works well.

                        But if you enjoy the pairing, please continue to do so.

                        1. re: maria lorraine
                          vinosnob RE: maria lorraine Jul 5, 2008 02:17 PM

                          Indeed I will.

                          The wine we drink the food we pair with it is without a doubt "a personal preference thing" IMO.

                  2. re: dkenworthy
                    Bill Hunt RE: dkenworthy Jul 3, 2008 07:29 PM

                    Not sure that I've tried any Zins with wife's NO/Cajun influenced dishes. That seems strange, to me, as I love Zins of all levels. I'll give this one a definite go, just to see.



            2. b
              Brad Ballinger RE: brandygirl Jul 2, 2008 01:05 PM

              Anything with some sugar such as the Riesling you mentioned, or a Champagne labeled Extra Dry. I'd prefer beer to wine with jambalaya, but you're the host...

              1 Reply
              1. re: Brad Ballinger
                brandygirl RE: Brad Ballinger Jul 2, 2008 02:08 PM

                We definitely will have plenty of beer on hand, as I think half of us will drink beer and the other half, wine.

              2. v
                vinosnob RE: brandygirl Jul 2, 2008 02:35 PM

                For me, I'd opt for the pinot gris or riesling. Gewurztraminer (from Alsace) could be nice as well as a rose. Dolcetto or lambrusco (dry or slightly sweet) could be fun too...

                1 Reply
                1. re: vinosnob
                  jadea3 RE: vinosnob Jul 2, 2008 07:24 PM

                  An off-dry riesling or an off-dry gewurz would definitely fit the bill.

                2. Bill Hunt RE: brandygirl Jul 2, 2008 10:12 PM

                  My wife is a NOLA native, and we are blessed with her NO cuisine. For whites, I always start with Riesling. The heat will usually dictate the level of ripeness.

                  That said, I am also a fan of Pinot Noir. With much heat, something from the Central Coast (Santa Rita Hills) might be in order. There is the acid from the tomatoes, so both Riesling and PN seem to work well, as both have a good base of acid. For me, heat usually calls for more fruit forward.


                  1. c
                    Chicago Mike RE: brandygirl Jul 2, 2008 11:49 PM

                    all of these recommendations are pretty interesting.... you just can't go too far wrong with riesling here.... kabinett to auslese, it all works....

                    1. z
                      zin1953 RE: brandygirl Jul 3, 2008 06:27 AM

                      I, too, would avoid the Zinfandel . . .

                      If you do go for red, go for Pinot Noir, or perhaps Grenache -- even better, Grenache Rosé. But I'd really echo the German/Austrian Riesling, or Alsatian Gewurztraminer recommendations you've already received, as well as add one more suggestion: Alsatian Pinot Gris (NOT Italian Pinot Grigio!).

                      1. penthouse pup RE: brandygirl Jul 3, 2008 01:14 PM

                        Chenin blanc on the off-dry side will work...and so do Tempranillo-based wines that are young...(jovens).

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: penthouse pup
                          Chinon00 RE: penthouse pup Jul 3, 2008 07:15 PM

                          double post - sorry

                          1. re: penthouse pup
                            Chinon00 RE: penthouse pup Jul 3, 2008 07:18 PM

                            As a fan of Vouvray I just don't think that Chenin Blanc has the dimensions to match up well with a spicy Jambalaya. Even off-dry it can still be an austere wine.

                            1. re: Chinon00
                              drumwine RE: Chinon00 Jul 4, 2008 12:27 AM

                              a friend of mine made jambalaya last year....I brought a 2005 Majella sparkling shiraz....was PERFECT.....combines the "put out the fire" bubbles with tangy fruit. Try it!

                              1. re: Chinon00
                                penthouse pup RE: Chinon00 Jul 4, 2008 12:53 PM

                                Agree with you on Vouvray--but lower end chenin blanc from S.Africa or even California can take heat...

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