Challenging Wine Pairing: Red Beans and Rice

By LaGayle ~ October 5th, 2010.

Red beans and rice is a favorite “Louisiana” dish. It is a traditional Creole dish; however, over the years, it has become very generally used by everyone. It is just as popular in restaurants as in homes.

Red beans and rice originated out of the need for an easy meal on “washday” in the Creole community. So, on Mondays, the usual day for doing laundry, it was easy to put on a pot of red beans and let them simmer while the chores were being done. Ham was a traditional Sunday meal, so the leftover ham bone was thrown into the pot along with the beans. Then at mealtime in the evening, it was just a matter of preparing some white rice and possibly some sausage, and dinner was ready!

There are just about as many recipes for this dish as there are cooks who prepare it because flavors can be tweaked to the desired tastes. The most common ingredients along with the beans and ham are onion, bell pepper, celery, and a variety of seasonings. Andouille sausage is often used; although, any smoked sausage will do. Some people serve the sausage on the side while others slice it and put it directly into the pot with the other ingredients. For the most part, the dish itself is mild, so hot sauce such as Tabasco is often put on the table as a condiment.

Our red beans and rice meal for this month’s challenging wine pairing included the red beans and rice with ham and Andouille sausage all included in the mixture, broccoli, red onion, and green olive salad with a yogurt dressing, and jalapeno cornbread muffins. I know, I know…jalapeno cornbread with a Creole dish? I just could not help myself; I had to throw in a little spice! And, they went great with the meal.

In selecting the wines to pair with this meal, once again, I referred to my favorite book, What to Drink with What you Eat by Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page and decided on a Zinfandel and a Gewurztraminer. With the red beans and rice, we enjoyed the 2007 Trio Vintners Zinfandel from Pheasant Vineyard in Washington’s Wahluke Slope AVA and the 2008 Sineann Gewurztraminer from Celilo Vineyard on the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge AVA. (Note: Sineann Winery is located in Newberg, Oregon.) Both wines, as you will see in the tasting notes below, are excellent; however, the unanimous choice as the best pairing with the red beans and rice was the Gewurztraminer.

We’d love for you to share in the comments what you would have paired with this meal. And, as always, we welcome your suggestions for challenging wine pairings for us to try in the future.

Bon Appétit!

2008 Sineann Gewurztraminer (Celilo Vineyard, Columbia Gorge, Washington): Pale, straw yellow in color. Very aromatic with pear and green apple on the nose. More pear, citrus fruits, honey, and white peach come through on the palate. Dry and medium-bodied with lively acidity. Well-balanced with a long, refreshing finish. Gets even better with food.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Received as sample, suggested retail $18; Available elsewhere, $19 to $22

2007 Trio Vintners Zinfandel (Pheasant Vineyard, Wahluke Slope, Washington): Deep, purplish red. Nice nose with aromas of buttered popcorn, leather, and red fruits. More red fruits, especially raspberry, and a hint of earth on the palate. Medium to full-bodied with lively acidity and medium to high tannins. Well-balanced and smooth with a long finish.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 5 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $26; Available elsewhere, $26

Filed under: American Wine, Challenging Wine Pairing, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Food & Wine, Gewurztraminer, Red Wine, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wines Over $25, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25, Zinfandel

Reader's Comments

  1. Valerie Chapman Stockwell | October 5th, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Interesting–I would have thought the zinfandel would be the preferred choice. Why did you like the Gewurztraminer better?

  2. Kori | October 14th, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    Prior to the tasting, I would have thought the Zinfandel would have been our preferred choice too. However, while both wines were good and both pairings would work, the Gewurztraminer just worked better. While both wines had lively acidity, the Gewurz had a bit higher level of acidity which I think worked well with the fat in the ham and Andouille sausage. You might find my post recapping a food and wine pairing seminar by Chef Jeffrey Saad interesting: Cheers!