Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Cajun and Creole: Difficult Pairing of wine with food (PB)

Tonight my wife suggested “Carribean Night” so Carribean night it was! Pina Coladas with big butterflied shrimp seared in olive oil with Cajun spices and broiled bread with butter lightly spiced again with Cajun spices was served up for a "tide me over." In the background was playing steel drum music from the Atlantic Clarion Steel Drum band. This later gave way to some indigenous Soca music from the Island of St. Maarten from a previous trip to this Carribean paradise.

We had some left over Sauvignon Blanc we needed to use so it was the sipper with the aforementioned appetizers. (This was not a good pairing but then it was just a way to not have to dump some aging wine.) I don’t suggest this tact for the record...

But the main course was another story. Normally I enjoy flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to cooking; nothing ventured, nothing gained; no guts, not glory. But tonight I consulted with Emeril–the master of Cajun cuisine which is very similar to Carribean in some respects.

So I decided to try the potato crusted fish (catfish in this instance) with a roasted pepper sauce, sweet corn and Zatarains rice and red beans for a side.

The fish was spiced with cayene pepper, and all those wonderful Creole seasonings which make wine pairing a bear. But I had just read an article in “Food and Wine” about pairing wine with Chinese cooking. Several options were mentioned from Gewurtztraminer to Pinot Noir.

So applying the principles I gleaned from this article, I thought I would try a sweet wine but one with a good acid structure and solid flavors. I needed something to stand up to the “hot” spices of creole yet something that would enhance the flavors of the sauce and delicate fish.

I selected a Late Harvest Riesling from Covey Run 2003 ($11) and it was spectacular! (See previously entered review of this wine)

First, the food was really very nice but with the odd flavors of the rice and beans, which was VERY spicy, and the delicate flavors of the roasted pepper sauce and catfish, I had concerns but it worked and worked really, really nicely.

So if you are struggling about the dish which is spicy and or hot, think about a well made sweet Riesling, Gewurtz, Semillion or even a Viognier. It will probaby work! Now raise a glass and a fork!

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