Pair it up! Mardi Gras Edition

Yes, I know, Mardi Gras has already passed — it was this past Tuesday, February 17th.

But thinking about Mardi Gras earlier this week got me mulling over a couple of fun potential food pairings. N’Awlins fare and wine? Don’t mind if I do…

The muffuletta sandwich was created by Italian immigrants in New Orleans — it was said to have originated at the Central Grocery around 1906. Combine Italian meats and cheeses with a marinated olive salad filling and boom — muffuletta. The GoNOLA site has a recipe that pretty much approximates the original.

The trickiest component wine-wise is the olive salad. Adventurous? Try a muffuletta with some dry sherry from Spain. Otherwise, try something like the 13th Street 2012 White Palette, which brings the aromatics of Riesling and Gewürztraminer with the crisp citrus of Sauvignon Blanc and the richer red apple notes from Chardonnay. This wine’s raciness will cut through all those delicious sandwich fillings.

It’s tough to imagine New Orleans fare and not think of chicken gumbo. Toss in some okra, some andouille sausage and some veggies, and in no time (well, a few hours actually, based on this recipe) your pot will be simmering with flavours from the Big Easy.

You could go sweet to counteract the spice of the gumbo — and the Kacaba 2013 Riesling from the Niagara Peninsula would be a good place to start. There’s loads of great ripe apple and stone fruit notes, as well as a hint of spice and the balance of sweetness (it’s off-dry) and acidity to get it done.

Rather do a red? Try a well-structured, fruitier Pinot Noir such as the Upper Bench 2012 Pinot Noir from the Okanagan Valley.

There are so many more New Orleans dishes out there just waiting for a killer pairing: jambalaya, crawfish, shrimp, beans and rice, etc. So fire up the brass band, grab your beads and have fun.


Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson is the wine columnist and literary editor for the Winnipeg Free Press. He’s on Twitter and Instagram at @bensigurdson.

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