What exactly is Mardi Gras? Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) is the last day before the Christian season of Lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday, when followers traditionally fast, refrain from eating meat or give up selected indulgences.
In the US, New Orleans is the Mardi Gras capital. The colorful celebrations and raucous parades held on the bead-strewn streets of the French Quarter have an almost spiritual purpose. With its Cajun, Creole and French influences, New Orleans is one of the most exciting cities in the world when it comes to food. This is a city laden with Absinthe houses, Hurricane cocktails and Sazeracs and great dishes to pair with wine.
Creole Gumbo is probably New Orleans’s most famous dish. This Louisiana stew has long served as a metaphor for the Big Easy’s rich culture, influenced by the Creoles, Cajuns, French, Spanish and African-Americans who have occupied the city over its 294-year history. This dish can include chicken, shrimp or seafood and is flavored with tomatoes, filé powder, okra and plenty of richly-flavored stock. It is typically served over rice.
Try serving gumbo with M. Chapoutier Côtes du Rhône Blanc Belleruche a Côtes du Rhône blending of 60% Grenache Blanc, 20% Clairette, and 20% Bourboulenc from the South of France. This fresh and well-balanced white offers up aromas of green apple, hawthorne, citrus and exotic pineapple.The flavors follow the nose and offer hints of kiwi, pineapple, a touch of green herb flavors, and a nice fat dollop of stone fruit and minerals. This wine has a fatty richness that seems almost oily as it coats your palate, yet it retains lots of acidity. The finish is long drawn-out elegance. Mid- to full-bodied this wine to stands up to gumbo, grilled fish or blackened chicken.
Creole Jambalaya is a rice dish filled to the brim with chicken, Andouille sausage, shrimp, tomatoes, vegetables and a whole ‘lotta spices! This Louisiana favorite is definitely a “party on a plate.”
A good wine for Jambalaya would be Murphy-Goode Fumé Blanc. This Sauvignon Blanc has a hint of Semillon for floral notes and a touch of oak for that smoky, intriguing “fumé” personality. The wine is light- to medium-bodied, balanced, and very easy going. The first aromas you notice are Bartlett pear and fresh green grass followed by bright citrus and super lush tropical fruit. The flavor profile is green pear, white peach, hints of grapefruit, honeydew and melon rind with a gentle touch of minerality. The finish is dry and subtle and it makes for a gentle foil to jambalaya.
Shrimp Po Boys. What could be better than fried shrimp, fried oysters, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and remoulade sauce slathered on a soft hunk of French bread? A Po Boy paired with Alexander Valley Vineyards Zinfandel Sin Zin! This steamy sinful red has lots of leather notes, black cherries, spice and smoky oak wafting up to your nostrils fromthe glass. Up front there are bold blackberry flavors followed by tasty vanilla and plum with toasty oak flavors through the finish. This Zin has the classic spicy, bold tannins Zinfandels are known for and it won't disappoint with this dish.
No Mardi Gras celebration would be complete without a King Cake. This sweet yeast bread is shaped into a ring and frosted with gold, green and purple icing or sugars. A dried red bean or a figurine of a baby representing the Christ child is baked inside. Tradition says that whoever gets the slice with the figurine inside bakes the King Cake the following year or hosts the Mardi Gras party. Pair this sweet with Errazuriz Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc from Casablanca, Chile. This late harvest Sauvignon Blanc contains a small percentage of Gewürztraminer grapes, which add a delicious layer to the wine. The racy floral aromas and textural richness of citrus, apricots and papaya, are melded with elegant floral notes and ginger tones. There is an impressive creaminess that balances the lively acidic crispiness so that the fruit is fresh on the palate. The finish is smooth elegant and delicious.
What better way to celbrate Mardi Gras than with these pairings?
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