Admit it, when you think of Mardi Gras you think of New Orleans, beads, and debauchery. And while you’re not entirely inaccurate, there’s more to it than that.
If you’re heading down there or closer to Galveston Island, (catch some beads for us!) or even if you’re celebrating at home, there are a few traditional dishes that you’ll want to add to the menu along with a wine or beer pairing that will really highlight the flavors of Cajun cuisine.
When pairing wine with the rich, buttery, spicy flavors of Cajun dishes you’ll want to avoid big bold reds as they tend to come off metallic and ruin the flavors of the meal. Instead, you’ll want to look for crisp, cool whites as their versatility pairs well with the myriad Cajun flavors. Not to say you should avoid all reds as a Shiraz or Pinot Noir are suitable choices as well.
This rich, spicy stew is a Cajun go-to and pairs well with a Chenin Blanc. The spicier the gumbo, the sweeter you’ll want the wine.
You’ll want a beer that stands up to the gumbo’s heavy flavor palate. For this we recommend sticking close to the source and pairing it with a local NOLA brewery. (This brewery is 30 miles north in Abita Springs, LA). The Abita Turbodog is a dark brown ale with a rich body and sweet chocolate like flavor.
Red Beans & Rice
To balance the meat, seasonings, and spices that accompany the beans, you’ll want a wine that complements the bit of spice typically found in the dish. A Gewurztraminer is an excellent choice.
A good brown ale plays backup to the dish without overpowering it. Maybe it’s something in the water, but we’re going with another Louisiana local! Great Raft Brewery in Shreveport, LA, makes a wonderful brown ale that goes great with red beans and rice – Creature of Habit Coffee Brown Ale
Shrimp & Grits
A simple sounding dish with complex yet light flavors making it suitable for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. As such it pairs perfectly with a Chardonnay, or if you’re feeling fancy, you can’t go wrong with some bubbles!
A pale ale is refreshing enough to let the flavors shine, while the hops complement any additional spice you might come across. The Abita Hop-On is a juicy pale ale that works well with this dish.
Assuming you’ve burned off all the rum on your foster, a Sauternes will pair up perfectly. It’s a rich and honeyed dessert wine from Bordeaux.
A vanilla-infused beer is an excellent way to play up the sweetness of this dish by pulling the flavors of the vanilla ice cream forward and pairing perfectly with the brown sugar in the sauce.
Now that you know what to eat and drink, it’s time to Laissez les bons temps rouler!