Cajun Cuisine is known for being rich, buttery, spicy and full of flavor. So when you are searching for wines to step up to the pairing challenge, traditional rules focus on crisp, cool selections that will not compete with the intensity and savory flavors of favorite Mardi Gras dishes. On the Indiana Uplands Wine trail, we have just the right wines to fit the bill, and maybe a few non-traditional choices that might surprise you.
Getting Specific: Going for Gumbo?
With a sizzling bowl of gumbo you'll love a lively Pinot Gris, such as the one that hails from the Huber vineyard, or perhaps Brown County’s Traminette. They will do their best to balance the heat of this classic Cajun soup. As for red wine selections, opt for a versatile Chambourcin, Pinot Noir, or blends such as Huber’s Generations, Butler’s Red Select, and Owen Valley’s Old River Red which aren’t heavy in tannins and have an easy-going palate presence that will sustain and complement a sizzling gumbo filled with shrimp, chicken or sausage. Also, French Lick’s Norton, a dark red with nice berry notes and lower tannins would be another option.
Opting For Cajun Catfish, Shrimp Creole or a Crayfish Entree?
If you are trying something seafood or shellfish-based, then try Cabernet Sauvignon! Usually its suggested you stay away from big reds, as shellfish are especially loaded with savory flavors which tend to make tannic red wines bitter and produce a metallic finish for some. However, keep a salt shaker and lemon wedge handy and sprinkle a little of either or both on the food, and voila, the tannins will be demonstrably subdued and you can forget about the bitter metallic finish. Cabernet Sauvignon is popular on its own or in blends with Indiana Upland Wine Trail wineries. Wineries with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc on their list include Oliver, Brown County, Best, Huber, Butler, French Lick and Turtle Run.
From a traditional standpoint, an array of white wines always seem to pair well, including Chardonel ( Best, Oliver, Huber, Butler, Turtle Run all have them), Vidal (French Lick, Owen Valley, Oliver, Best, Huber, Butler) to the blush Chambourcin’s (Butler, Best, Oliver, Turtle Run, Huber). Each winery also provides additional blush wines which are too numerous to mention here, but Owen Valley’s Valley Blush offers a tasty sweeter blush option to think about. These wines typically offer both refreshment and a brisk component in their structures.
We’ve given you a broad base of wines from which to choose, and a little tip on flavor balancing food with good ol’ lemon and salt to soften tannins.
The Wineries and Vineyards of the Indiana Uplands Wine Trail