Gumbo is a delectable fall/winter-time dish commonly served in South Louisiana. The word Gumbo itself stems from the African influence and the Creole culture. I’m from South Louisiana, so for those of you who aren’t, Gumbo is basically a really delicious soup served over rice that can be made with seafood, wild game, or chicken combined with andouille sausage.
Pairing a wine with a soup can be confusing. Most of you have probably heard the old adage “red sauce = red wine; white sauce = white wine; dark meat = red wine; and light meat/fish = white wine,” but this isn’t always the case! Because gumbo can be made with different types of protein, you want to take into account the protein you are using. Last night, I made a chicken, duck, and andouille sausage gumbo, which is a light meat (chicken) paired with a darker meat (duck), so that old adage won’t work if we are trying to stick to it religiously. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great rule of thumb if you are just getting into wine and are worried about what to serve your guests. However, I also realize that many people are solely white wine drinkers or solely red wine drinkers, so I’m going to give you some great pairings, both red and white!
WHITE WINE PAIRING
White wine with gumbo is a FANTASTIC pairing because gumbo tends to be spicy. The heat and spice is well balanced by a dry white wine. This is because the acidity level in the white wine balances the spice and intensity of the heat you find in gumbo. Acidity is that “bite” or stimulation of the salivation glands; when you suck in, you need water and your tongue kind of puckers up like you’re devouring a handful of Sour Patch Kids candy. To balance that acidity, I would recommend sticking with a dry or drier white such as:
- Alsace Reisling (France)
- Gewurtzaminer (Germany)
- Viogner (France)
- Chenin Blanc (France)
- Fumé Blanc (France)
- Unoaked Chardonnay (California, Oregon, or France) (the higher the altitude, the better, i.e. St. Helena, CA)
RED WINE PAIRING
Red wine can be equally fantastic with gumbo, but BE CAREFUL here!!! You DO NOT want a big full bodied red wine because it will overpower the delicate flavors of gumbo. If you have delicate flavors, you’ll need a delicate wine, so steer clear of a Cabernet Sauvignon. So, if you are exclusively a red wine drinker, you’ll want to choose a light to medium bodied red, which should land you in the Pinot Noir section of the wine store. A lighter bodied red is good here because it has fewer tannins. Tannins usually come from the skin of the grape during the wine making process, and will generally give you the “tongue sticking to the top of your mouth” feeling (like when you feed your dog peanut butter). Tannins produce the darker flavors in a red wine such as a “nutty flavor” or a “dark chocolate,” “cinnamon,” or “clove” flavor. So, for red wine, keep it light and try one of these:
- Pinot Noir (Oregon’s Willamette Valley has my favorites!! My all time favorite Pinot Noir is Moises Pinot Noir from Oregon. The winemaker is a New Orleans native, and I have taken a wine class from him. He’s fantastic! His wine is SO SO SO delicious!!!)
- Chateauneuf du Pape (France) (this is a blend, generally 13 grapes you’ve probably never heard of. If you love red blends, this is a great choice for you.)
- Pinotage (South Africa) (this is a cross between the Pinot Noir grape and the Cinsault grape)
- Grenache or Grenache Blend/aka Côte du Rhone (France) or Garnacha (Spain)
FEELING DARING? TRY A ROSÉ
If you’re feeling really daring, you can also try a Rosé. If you’ve never tried Rosé or are serving guests, this is not the time to start experimenting with a new wine. But, if you want to hit the ground running, go for it! Rosé is one of my absolute favorite wines, and ANY one from Provence, France or made in the Provence style is a hands down winner. If you’re interested in going this route, stick to French Rosé, and look on the bottle for “Provence.” If you find a Rosé from California, look on the bottle for “Provence Style Rosé.” It’ll be dry, not sweet, but it will provide the same effect as the white wine with a great balance. Nonetheless, seeing as how gumbo is more of a fall/winter-time dish, I think sticking with a white or red is your best bet, especially if you are serving guests. You don’t want to present your guests with a wine they’ve never tried and risk feeling like a less-than-proper hostess.
WHAT I CHOSE
During the week, I try to keep the wine under $15/bottle. I was feeling more keen on white wine last night, so I went with the Joel Gott Unoaked Chardonnay from Sonoma, California (available at your local grocery store). This is an affordable choice at $13, and pretty damn good! It’s drinkable on its own, but great paired with gumbo. The “unoaked” part simply means that it is not aged in oak barrels, so you won’t get that big thick “buttery” flavor that often accompanies most Napa Chardonnays. Instead, the wine is aged in stainless steel which is going to impart a more “mineral-y” feel to it, which is a super win for my palate!
I’d leave you with a gumbo recipe, but I don’t cook with strict recipes. I usually just call my momma and say, “okay, what next?” If you’re interested in a great recipe, I’ll find one for you. Leave a comment, say hello, and/or let me know if you have any questions.
Now, go eat your GUMBO and drink some WINE!!!
Stay Glittery Winos!