Challenging Wine Pairing: Shrimp Creole

By LaGayle ~ October 12th, 2009.

Shrimp Creole paired with Viognier and Rosé of Sangiovese It’s time for another food and wine pairing challenge. As you have probably noticed, the Wine Peeps like spicy foods, so this time the menu called for a Creole/Cajun dish. As I planned the meal, I decided to prepare Shrimp Creole which I served with white rice and bayou coleslaw. If I do say so myself, it was fantastic!

Most often when someone thinks of Louisiana cooking, the thought is Cajun, but Cajun/Creole today is recognized by many to be interchangeable terms. In an article by Malcolm He’bert, “The Creole and Cajun Cooking of Louisiana”, the difference between the two is as follows:

“Many Creoles were rich planters and their kitchens aspired to grande cuisine. Their recipes came from France or Spain as did their chefs. By using classic French techniques with local foodstuffs, they created a whole new cuisine, Creole cooking.” And, “on the other hand the Acadians, later contracted to Cajun, were a tough people who tended to serve strong country food prepared from locally available ingredients. It was pungent, peppery and practical since it was all cooked in a single pot. Thus Cajun cuisine was born.”

Both styles are prepared with basic foods such as onion, celery, bell peppers, a hint of garlic, beans, sausage, rice, seafood, etc., but the key is the various spices that give it such oomph!!! For example, Shrimp Creole is a blend of onions, celery, garlic, bell peppers, cayenne pepper, tomatoes, spices, the ever popular Tabasco, and, of course, shrimp. Put that over rice, and you have a hearty, filling and flavorful meal. The bayou coleslaw was yummy, too. It was a broccoli slaw with green onions, red onion, and parsley tossed with a dressing consisting of mayonnaise, mustard, green olives, lemon juice, fennel seed, and seasoned sea salt.

The great thing about this menu is that it is an easy meal to prepare. Chop, dice, sauté, blend, simmer. And, while it’s easy, it is so flavorful!

Now what wines to pair with this meal? Oftentimes, the first thought with seafood is a white wine. However, the spiciness of Shrimp Creole could call for something other than white. I decided to try both a white and a rosé. For the white, my first thought was a Spanish Albariño, but instead I decided on a Washington Viognier which I find to be very similar. So, I selected the 2008 K Vintners Columbia Valley Viognier and the 2008 Barnard Griffin Rosé of Sangiovese, also a Washington wine.

Our conclusion after this pairing challenge was quite interesting. All four of us felt the Viognier was best with the overall meal; however, individually, the Viognier paired best with the Shrimp Creole while the Rosé of Sangiovese paired best with the coleslaw. I believe it was the fennel in the coleslaw which tipped the scale to the rosé.

This meal and the wines were great for a late summer dinner. Please let us know what you have found to be enjoyable dinners and wine pairings on wonderful late summer or early fall evenings.

Bon Appétit!

2008 K Vintners Viognier (Columbia Valley, WA): Straw yellow. Sweet citrus, peach, and apricot aromas. Citrus and peaches come through on the palate as well. Medium-bodied and lively with a long finish. Well-balanced and extremely smooth. A very fresh wine.
Quality: 4 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Winery, $20; Ultimate Wine Shop (New Jersey), $24.99

2008 Barnard Griffin Rosé of Sangiovese (Columbia Valley, Washington): Bright, hot pink color. Very aromatic with strawberry, mint, and floral aromas. Smooth and crisp with lots of bright strawberry flavors. Long finish.
Quality: 3.5 stars (out of 5)
QPR: 4 bangs for your buck (out of 5)
Where to buy: Esquin Wine Merchants (Seattle, WA), $11; Available elsewhere, $10 to $18

Filed under: American Wine, Challenging Wine Pairing, Food & Wine, Rose Wine, Sangiovese, Viognier, Washington State Wine, White Wine, Wines Under $15, Wines Under $20, Wines Under $25

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