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Jul 28, 2009 10:34 PM

Pairing with Cassoulet

My lovely wife is going to make me a traditional cassoulet with duck confit, pork shoulder and lamb for my 30th birthday. This is quite the undertaking and I truly appreciate her effort; she makes THE BEST cassoulet. We will be serving a small green salad with a simple O&V dressing and a crusty bread to round out the meal.

I am looking for a wine that will compliment the cassoulet and allow the cassoulet to be the star of the show. Preferably red and affordable enough to be able to serve to a dozen people.

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  1. Any medium-weight red wine will do.

    In all honesty, the best pairing takes its lead from type of meats/poultry in your cassoulet. The stew varies widely, and the pairing for a cassoulet that is pork heavy -- with smoked pork, sausage, and pork fat -- will differ slightly from a cassoulet with lamb, and one with duck confit, pheasant, etc.

    I adore the stuff.

    The last two times I've made cassoulet, I've paired it with Cabernet Franc, and that's worked well. But I'd open up any number of reds and see how they worked. This is a gentrified peasant stew, so many wines will work.

    Read more here about cassoulet ingredient variations:

    1. Go for wine from the same region : Madiran, Cahors, Gaillac, ... all should be quite affordable.

      1. As Max says, red wines from southwest France work best. I think it's their unique combination of ripe but not exuberant fruit, fat-cutting tannins and acidity, and local savour that does the trick.

        Prepared an ultra-traditional cassoulet (pork shoulder and shank, duck confit, Toulouse sausages, tarbais beans) for a crowd this winter and opened a wide range of southwest wines to go with it. All were good. The most popular was a somewhat austere 1995 Canon-Fronsac (Château Grand Renouil, 100% Merlot). An aged Madiran (the Cuvée Prestige from Château Montus, mostly if not all Tannat) was imposing. A young Fronsac (the Cuvée Don Quichotte from Domaine Le Roc, 60% Negrette and 40% Syrah) had immediate appeal. A young Irouléguy (Domaine Ilarria, 70% Tannat and 30% Cabernet Franc) was sterner but really quite special.

        4 Replies
        1. re: carswell

          just remember the oil and vin dressing will kill whatever wine you choose...

          1. re: Cam D

            Do you have an alternative suggestion?

            1. re: jpc8015

              Serve the salad as a separate course. We started our cassouletathon with canapés (e.g. toasted country bread spread with a herby sun-dried tomato and black olive tapenade) followed by an assortment of three or four salads (grated carrot, cauliflower in an anchovy mayonnaise, etc.), with glasses of white Gaillac, dry Jurançon and Fronton rosé. Then we moved on to the main event.

              1. re: carswell

                Good idea.

                Maybe we'll just scrap the salad and go with some crudite and assorted apps an hour before the meal and let the cassoulet stand alone.

                Then we can finish off the evening with an apple tart and some Hennessy XO before smoking Montecristo cigrs!

        2. Had cassoulet last with a glass of Fronton. Gotta have that again there soon.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Chinon00

            Oops. The Cuvée Don Quichotte mentioned above is a Fronton, not a Fronsac. 'Scuse the brainfart. And you're right, Fronton makes a great pairing for cassoulet, and an invariably affordable one, too.

          2. One of the hardest "tickets" in Napa Valley is an invite to the cassoulet dinners that a friend (and professional dietician) does every year . . . it's also some of the best cassoulet I've had *anywhere*, including France.

            While I absolutely agree with wine suggestions like Madrian and Cahors (not sure about Gaillac), what I will say is that the best matches that I've found are the wines of Côte-Rôtie and Hermitage . . . NOT necessarily the most affordable wines on the planet, but Syrahs in a Northern Rhône style (think Edmunds St. John, for instance; a very affordable option) also pair quite well. Not so for the big, over-the-top, Aussie-style of Syrah/Shiraz.

            1 Reply
            1. re: zin1953

              Cassoulet and Cote-Rotie. A battle of titans.