Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > New Orleans >
Dec 1, 2008 12:50 PM

Wine pairings with N.O. cuisine?

Any suggestions on what wines work best with the classics like gumbo, jambalaya, etouffee, etc.?

(Paging Bill Hunt ... the wine selections you mention in your restaurant reviews are superb! You appear to be a Burgundy fan, as are we ... are those good bets with local dishes?)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. My first "go-to" varietals with NO cuisine are"

    Riesling (I'm mostly a GR QmP fan, but also like some of the Alsacians)
    Pinot Noir (can be Burgundian, all the way through to Santa Rita Hills, predicated on the exact recipe and level of "heat."). For an inexpensive PN, I have been pairing the Acacia Carneros (not Burgundian, as it's much more "fruit-forward") with some gumbos. With most, it works well. However, if available, I'll usually head to a Nuits-St-Georges, or similar, because of the increased complexity and elegance.

    That said, I like a bit of tartness, when the seafood is much simpler - there, I often go with a Sauvignon Blanc, or a lighter Chardonnay, like a Chablis. The acid carries this pairing for me.

    About the only bigger Chard, that I would consider would be a Meursault, unless one has a fairly heavy cream sauce. The Meursault usually has more acid, and can cut through the butter in many of the seafood preparations. I love my Cortons, but the dish would have to be right, before I'd go there. Of course, I could use it for the cheese-course...

    I've found myself doing more CA Syrahs with NO-inspired dishes too. Many of these have been bigger, though you have to watch the alcohol levels if there is any "heat."

    Can be the same for Zinfandels. Fruit-forward examples seem to go better, but again, watch the alcohol level, as the "bigger" ones are also very alcoholic. I love these, so long as they are balanced, but just a little "heat" and the alcohol lights a fire on my palate.

    One white that has some universal appeal for me is the (Caymus) Conundrum. It's a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier and Muscat. In recent years, the Viognier and Muscat levels have fallen a bit. It has good acid, but also more of a "fruit-forward" aspect, than some of the more austere Sauvignon Blancs. I think of them, when I want a "twist of lemon." In earlier vintages of Conundrum, I could take one whiff and be instantly transported to a Southern Spring evening with the mimosa, gardinia and jasmine in bloom. Now, it is less evocative of that, but still good.

    Two reds that are often off the radar screen for NO cuisine are Cru Beaujolais and Côtes du Rhone.

    Côtes du Rhone blanc (usually Marsanne and Roussanne) also works with a lot of the food.

    If one has a strong tomato element (I'm thinking both the jambalaya and the étoufee here), I'd *think* that a good Sangiovese would work well. The acid pairs with that of the tomatoes and works beautifully with Italian dishes with a tomato base. With the exception of Picchetti (Santa Cruz Mountains), I have found far too few good domestic examples and almost always look to IT for these.

    Last, Champagne, especially a Brut Rosé, can pair wonderfully, and work throughout most of the meal.

    There are probably many more, but am keeping the list to just what I have tried (the Sangiovese is an exception) and really liked. I'm sure that others will fill in the blanks with their personal favorites.


    1. what BH said, but also Pinotage from S.Africa pairs well with much of our cuisine, particularly turtle soup, gumbo and anything duck.
      Ferrari-Carano has a Fume Blanc that wants to be a Chard that is also worthy of our cuisine.
      a Rose' can be great with our seafood dishes.
      and then there is the universally suited Champagne or Sparkling.
      for dessert or cheese courses, I like a Petite Syrah.

      3 Replies
      1. re: edible complex


        Thank you for mentioning a full-bodied Rosé. We HAVE done a few of these, both imported (usually Tavel from FR) and domestic. Beckman's Grenache Rosé is one of these.

        I had forgotten. I am always quick to try and get people to embrace the right "pink wines."

        I've not had THAT many Pinotage wines, that impressed me, though a few have. I have never tried one with NO cuisine, but will do so. Are there any producers, that have impressed you?

        I do agree about the F-C Fume. Though Sauvignon Blanc, it does "think that it's a medium-bodied Chard." Well made wine. I also like their Reserve Chardonnay, though it would be more useful in a heavier white-sauce prep. [Side Note: I lost a bottle of their '93 Reserve Chard in my cellar. Found it a few years ago, and assumed that it was long gone. It turned out to be such a wonderful wine and with about 12 years of cellar time. I tried to buy more at the winery from their library wines, but they had just sold them all to the staff. I went from saying last rights to wishing that I had lost a case of this wine!] Good wine and wine maker.


        1. re: Bill Hunt

          Graham Beck Pinotage has paired well, but I have mostly bought it for home imbibing and home cooking.
          Can't remember who has it on their wine lists here locally. I'm sure their distributer could share where.

          for domestic "pink" stuff, Peju Provence, Ledson Sonoma County Rosé, and Deloach Rosé.

          another white that works well is Sokol Blosser Evolution.
          and a great red is Veramonte Primus.

          1. re: edible complex

            Thank you for the recommendation. I have not had this. Several good friends are from SA, and I do not recall any of them serving it. Will check out the distribution in the PHX Area.

            I did not even know that Deloach did a Rosé. Michael Deloach is an acquaintance of mine, though the family sold some years back. IIRC, he was still involved, after the sale. I am so glad that more US producers are exploring the Rosé avenue. The Central Coast Region (I know that it's very big and includes many sub-apps) has been doing some nice "pink wine," over the last few years. Unfortunately, most people never encounter these, as they are not widely distributed. Maybe that's one reason that I go to France, with the Tavel Rosé so often - I can actually buy it in boutique wine shops in PHX.

            With the climate of NOLA, and the cuisine, I think that it is a wonderful compliment. However, too many people turn their noses up at it, just because of the color. More for me, but they have no clue, as to what they are missing.

            Appreciated, as always,


      2. Thanks, Bill and EC! Much appreciated. We're looking forward to our trip (12/23-12/30) and reporting back!