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Wine & chicken/sausage gumbo

If you were invited to a gumbo dinner party, what wine would you bring?

I would love to stay under $30 a bottle and am open to red or white suggestions

Thanks in advance!

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  1. Bill Hunt is the wine board's NOLA cuisine pairing expert, so I'd certainly like to hear from him.

    I'd serve a Riesling with just a touch of sweetness. Will certainly fit your budget level, and goes well with the filé and spicy heat in the sausage. But I will admit this is not
    the cuisine with which I have the most expertise in pairing.

    1 Reply
    1. re: maria lorraine

      Oops, I was out of town and missed this one.

      Now, "gumbo," is a very personal thing. The recipes vary across the board from family to family, from area to area. Still, I think Pinot Noir for a red and Riesling for a white with most "gumbos," that I know.

      If one has more heat, then a fruitier PN, or a higher-level of harvest in a QmP Riesling would work best. Stay clear of some of my fav. PN's, because of their alcohol levels. Not a problem with QmP Rieslings.

      For my wife's spicy New Orleans Seafood Gumbo, I lean toward a domestic PN, though with a hint of Burgundian style - think OR, or WA State. Carneros can work with some heat, but check the ABV level. While I love the Santa Rita Hills PN's, most are too "hot" to pair well.

      So very much will depend on how spicy the sausage is and what is added to the mix.

      Hunt

    2. Champagne.

      That or an off-dry Riesling

      2 Replies
      1. re: whiner

        I'd want something slightly off-dry as well.

        I think anytime you chime in with champagne, which btw I agree with in just about all instances, I'm tempted to suggest a Loire chenin. I wonder if I can keep up... demi-sec vouvray, anyone?

        1. re: mengathon

          It would not have occured to me to reccomend a demi-sec Vouvray, but you are right, it might work. And you could easily find a good example well under $30.

          An off-dry Scheurebe would also be nice.

      2. If you want to change things up try a Torrontes from Argentina. Floral like a gewurztraminer on the nose but crisper and dryer on the palate. La Yunta or Zolo are both nice. For a red you can go light pinot noir like Castle Rock California Cuvee(they make 7 different pinots. Make sure it's the California cuvee(the lightest)). Otherwise if you can get it try a Zweigelt, a red from Austria. Zantho is a fun one. Depending on how spicy you're going should influence how fruity/sweet to go. Spicier equals sweeter, less spicy, less sweet.

        1. It's hard to miss with riesling, gewurztraminer, or scheurbe... any ripeness you like really, even up to some auslese, just depends on how thick the flavor layers of the gumbo are and what your palate likes...

          If doing these wines, serve a "nibbler plate" of emmental cubes, it matches the wine so nicely....

          As a twist, beaujolais can be fun too....

          1. I'd bring beer. But if it must be wine... Depending on how hot (spicy) the gumbo is, you will want wine with some residual sugar. That will do a couple of things. It will create the illusion of tempering the heat, and you'll also be able to taste the wine. Lower alcohol by volume is also a good thing since the alcohol tends to appear more pronounced when consumed with spicy foods.

            So... You have several recommendations for Riesling. I'd look to ones from Germany or Australia. Unless the word "trocken" or "halbtrocken" or "dry" appears on the label, there will be some residual sugar. Many Riesling wines from Alsace are vinified dry. They also tend to have lower alcohol levels.

            I also recommend Champagne, and id doesn't even have to be a demi-sec. One labeled Extra Dry will have more residual sugar than one labeled Brut, but the latter will still have some sugar depending on the bottling dosage.

            If you want to bring a red, keep an eye on the alcohol by volume level. Beaujolais is safe, and can also be served a little cooler, which will also minimize the pronouncement of alcohol in the wine.

            1. beer will definitely be served - not my turn to bring beer :)

              I appreciate the tips and will post back after the party tomorrow

              1. Thank you so much for all of your suggestions!

                I apologize for my delayed response and note of appreciation.

                I opted to try a variety of suggestions with several bottles of different types for everyone to make up their own mind. With my group, the Beaujolais was the definitive favorite. The whites all seemed to be too "sweet" for our tastes.

                I have to admit - by the time I got done stirring the roux, there wasn't enough sparkling wine left to share with the guests - but I thought it mixed perfectly with the smell of cooking flour :)

                Needless to say - beer was a big hit with several of the guests.

                Thanks again for all our help and insight!

                7 Replies
                1. re: chicaraleigh

                  Glad you got a good pairing. I'd probably have gone with a Morgon for the BJ offering, as it has similar body to my (tardy) suggestion for an OR PN.

                  Which whites did you serve, that were too "sweet?" Just curious.

                  Thanks for reporting back,

                  Hunt

                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    please forgive the tardy tardy response - I so wish I would have gotten your original response to the gumbo question re: PN

                    I've since hosted a couple of gumbo parties and have courted my favorite varietal - regardless of the ingredients of the gumbo, PN has not let me down. I'm not as well versed in PN as you - although I aspire to be!.

                    I tend to just trust my instincts & the label (meaning description) in regards to fruitiness, balance, earthiness, etc to match whatever type of gumbo I'm making. For some reason - and this is probably way TMI, my latest culinary fling has been gumbo. I've tried everything from pig to alligator and none of it has come out "bad". In every case, the PN has always been an excellent choice.

                    Guess that's why the Beaujolais was such a hit the first time around. I'd guess it's the closest to PN out of the other suggestions.

                    Thank you again for your insightful suggestion!

                    1. re: chicaraleigh

                      I tend to agree on PN's with the "gumbos," that I have experienced. Being married to a wonderful cook from New Orleans, and having lived in the NOLA environs, I've had many. If I do not know of a reason, not to, from a specific recipe, and had to pair blind, that would be my "go-to" red, and Riesling would be the "go-to" white.

                      Hunt

                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Do you think it's because you have an affinity to PN's?

                        Also - we did have a Riesling for my original tet-e-tet and we all found it too sweet for our liking.

                        The original post gumbo recipe was a dark roux (REALLY dark) based gumbo with chicken, andouille and shrimp. I used the same chicken to make the stock so, once the stock was done I shredded/chopped the chicken for use in the roux. No un-ordinary vegetables, just the trinity.

                        OH - this may make a difference to wine pairing - even though I made a dark, rich, roux - I added okra. I've read many differing opinions on this topic BUT from what I've read, a dark roux thickens less than a lighter one. With that in mind, I figured - what the heck, let's throw it all in the pot.

                        So, outside of the trinity - okra was the only added ingredient.

                        With those factors in mind - does your original opinion on a strong PN stand?

                        1. re: chicaraleigh

                          Obviously, my preferences for PN could come into play. However, I find them to be very food-friendly to begin with. There is usually a tad more acid, and their flavor affinities go with such a wide, and diverse, spectrum of foods. While there are other wines that have similar characteristics, PN seems to wrap a lot into one wine. They are also easy to find.

                          As to the Rieslings, they too usually have a bit higher acid level, as well as a lower alcohol level. As the "heat" goes up in a dish, alcohol can easily make both the wine and the dish seem "hotter." The levels of ripeness of the Riesling grape can contribute a perceived "sweetness," even if the actual RS level is not high. This fruit-forward perception of "sweetness," can cut through the heat. Do you recall which Riesling you found too sweet? Just curious.

                          Hunt

                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            oh boy - I was afraid you might ask that. I really should start a wine journal. The memory just ain't what it used to be....

                            thank you again for all of your input!

                          2. re: chicaraleigh

                            The darker the roux, the less it thickens. The solution is not to add Okra, but to increase the amount of roux you use. For a dark roux, try tripling the amount of flour and oil/bacon fat you use. For a medium roux, double the amounts. What you'll find, after the roux reaches the color you want, is that (because you've darkened the roux) it will no longer hold all that oil. So, skim off the excess oil, but use the roux as the original recipe called for...

                            I'm going to try the Auslese...

                            Laissez les bon temps roullet!

                  2. Don't know if it is too late but...I have recommended a nice Southern Rhone wine, such as Vacqeyras, to go with that Gumbo....The customer came back and said it was a fantastic match...

                    1. Greetings all....reviving this post. I'm still suffering from "gumbo fever" and I have a bumper crop of okra so...Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez

                      The original post was 2 years ago, so I'm hoping to get some updated opinions - especially from Bill Hunt - on wine pairings and the best PN's commerically available on the market today.

                      Fear not, beer lovers, we will have plenty of Dixie flowing :-)

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: chicaraleigh

                        Much will depend on the exact recipe. If not that hot, then I would look to some of the more Burgundian PN's from OR. The more the heat, the more fruit you will want on the front of the PN, so might want to then look to the Central Coast, Monterey, Santa Barbara, Santa Rita Hills, or similar.

                        Down-thread, I mention a Tempranillo, that went with a particular gumbo, but not sure how easy it will be to find.

                        Good luck,

                        Hunt

                      2. Proper gumbo will overpower almost any wine. Bring something for after dinner and enjoy a great beer with the greatest of all soups.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: McSooner

                          Tonight a fish-a-terian friend is making seafood gumbo, definitely without meat or chicken. He'll provide beer, and we guests are bringing wine. Do I need to go out and get a Riesling or Gewürztraminer, or do you think Verdejo would work? On hand, I have Garcia Révalo Tresolmos Verdejo, 2009, which is 13% alcohol. I will brave he snow and venture out to the wine store if this sounds like a bad direction. Thoughts? Thanks!

                          1. re: chowchienne

                            Depends on the spicyness of the gumbo. Have you had that wine before as my understanding is Verdejos can differ in acidity. If it is very acidic it will go fine with most versions of milder/savory gumbo that's not too sweet. If it's spicy (like Thai/Indian levels spicy), better to switch to a sparkling/riesling/Gewurztaminer.

                            Or bring beer!

                            1. re: goldangl95

                              That particular Verdejo has some nice pear notes so it will probably be fine. If the gumbo is spicy, I prefer a Riesling with a small amount of RS. The tiny bit of sweetness in the wine acts as a foil to the spiciness, and there's a delicious third flavor that's formed.

                            2. re: chowchienne

                              I agree with Goldang. It will depend, but I would think that a Riesling would be the ideal white wine pairing, or at least the most universal. Now, I am a big fan of German Rieslings, and almost never experiment with domestic (US) Rieslings, though some might work, too.

                              Good luck and enjoy,

                              Hunt

                            3. re: McSooner

                              I totally disagree. I have never encountered a gumbo, from light broth over seasoned rice with tiny shrimp, to gumbo so black and thick, that one had to eat it with a fork, and have a knife nearby.

                              Personally, I find that two varietals generally go quite well:

                              Pinot Noir - the lighter the gumbo, though short of that "broth gumbo," benefits from a lighter PN, such as from Burgundy, or OR (again, more Burgundian offerings). If one has "heat," then the "fruit-forward" aspect helps there, so long as the ABV is not too high also. I also find here, that many Zinfandels work well, so long as the ABV level (at least perceived ABV level) is not too high.

                              Riesling, and I am thinking mostly Germany here, though some Alsacian Rieslings can also work. The higher the heat, the later the harvest, working up to Auslese, though stopping short of a TBA.

                              I have been very fortunate to sample gumbos throughout the Deep South, and most of Louisiana, though one does not have to go to the South, if the chef knows their way around a gumbo. Just had an excellent one at NOCA (http://www.restaurantnoca.com/) in Phoenix, AZ. Now, Chef Matt Taylor did work with both Chef John Besh and Chef Donald Link, down New Orleans way. In the case of THAT gumbo, the Lioco Noco '09 Sonoma Coast went well, but then the Finca Villacreces Pruno '08 Tempranillo stole the show. Great pairing, and better than the lighter PN, due to the heat, and spices.

                              My wife, a New Orleans native, has two great personal gumbo recipes, and I pair wines with them all of the time, and usually for "New Orleans" themed dinners.

                              Also, on must understand that "gumbo" can be rather a catch-all. Like mole in Mexico, there are many, many variations, and it can get down to the family, as to what is considered "gumbo."

                              I could well be that one might encounter some ingredients in a particular gumbo, that does not work well with many wines. However, I have never encountered such in all of my years chasing gumbos w/ a bottle of wine in my hand.

                              Hunt

                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                We didn't get to try the Verdejo with the gumbo, because someone else brought German Riesling (8.5%) alcohol, which was absolutely perfect. We had the Verdejo beforehand, and it was delicious, but now I have confirmed for myself that Riesling is a fantastic choice. Thanks, all!

                                1. re: chowchienne

                                  With my wife's seafood gumbo (also featuring sausages), we do a QmP Riesling, and normally at the Spätlese level, though have been known to go to Auslese, should she get heavy-handed with the spices. We also almost always have a bigger Pinot Noir, for the red, and I encourage my guests to try each.

                                  Glad that you found what worked well. That is what is important.

                                  Hunt

                            4. Dry Riesling or Gewurztraminer

                              Elementary, my dear Watson.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: collioure1

                                By "Dry Riesling," do you mean one of the Rieslings, such as those that Ernst Loosen is doing, outside of his family's normal QmP Rieslings? Maybe you are talking about a different "Dry Riesling?"

                                If so, having had most of his portfolio, I would disagree. The fuller-body of the QmP Rieslings, even from the same vineyard, go better with the heavy spices, that I encounter with most gumbos. Gewurztraminer, while a favorite wine of mine, seldom has the body/heft to stand up to the richness of the gumbo, and for me, the spice-on-spice does not work there.

                                A matter of tastes.

                                Hunt

                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  With spice/heat I want a dry, fruity wine. Riesling or Gewurz from Alsace or West Coast US.

                                  Or I sometimes drink Beaujolais cru with New Orleans spicy shrimp.

                                  Always something to carry away the spice from the palate. No tannins, no sugar, just fruit.

                                  Obviously you are acquainted with a broader spectrum of wines than am I. I don't prepare anything that calls for a German Riesling. I don't think I've tasted one in 15 years.

                                  1. re: collioure1

                                    Oh, I agree with the Riesling, and that is why we most often feature a QmP Spätlese, most often, though have gone to Kabinet, or even an Auslese, depending on our tasting of the gumbo, prior to service.

                                    As many of my wife's (she is a New Orleans native) dishes do feature spices, and often many layers of spices, the GR Rieslings often come into play. To me, they are great, food-friendly wines, and offer so very much.

                                    Hunt

                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                      I just make one New Orleans dish - shrimp in a spicy butter. I bring back gumbo filé every year to make it.

                                      With it I drink dry Riesling, dry Gewurztraminer, dry Albarino or Beaujolais cru. It's like four variations on the recipe itself.