Navigating Mardi Gras for the Wine Lover


March 9, 2022

Words by: Chris Bodnar

Creole is a whale of a cuisine to match wines with - it typically combines multiple intense flavors that can really cause havoc with your taste buds if your beverage is not in alignment.

Here we will explore some options to pair well with a specific segment, but the biggest rule to know of all is this: the spicier the food, the lower your alcohol and higher the residual sugar in your wine needs to be.

Telmo Rodriguez “Mountain Blanco”
Malaga, Spain

Telmo Rodriguez, of Remelluri and Bodega Lanzaga fame among others, is revered for his journeys around Spain working with, at times, obscure vineyards to make interesting wines. As far as our Canadian market goes, this white from the mountains north of Malaga would certainly count as one of these obscure examples. 

100% Muscat de Alexandria: this is a very interesting juxtaposition between sweet apricot fragrance and characteristics of piercing acidity, underripe peach, and a focused minerality. An interesting herbal note of olive carries the nose to a place we rarely go.

As far as pairing with Creole cuisine, this is the wine to pair with your fattiest dishes to let the acid to cut through the fat of the dish.

~$22, Sherbrooke Liquor,

Bedrock Old Vine Zinfandel
Sonoma, California

Many regions around the world can play havoc with consumer recognition of exactly what is in a wine. Much of Europe is region-designated rather than varietal, for example, for a fun geography lesson each time one picks up a bottle. California has its own devilish tricks where a wine can be labeled as a single varietal such as this, if it contains a minimum of 75% of the named varietal. So this Zinfandel is actually only *mostly* Zin, with the rest a blend of Carignan, Petite Sirah, and others.

What this does is balance what can be a fickle wine to make. This has a lovely acid tension not often found in Zinfandel. An earthy, herbal character weaves throughout, with citrus peel and smoke rounding out the palate.

It is this citrus and smoke duo that should accompany Creole staples unexpectedly well – just stay away from any overly spicy dishes, as the higher alcohol will exacerbate the heat and provide a type of punishment that is not soon forgotten.

~$40, Fine Wines by Liquor Select,

M Chapoutier “Chante-Alouette” Blanc
Hermitage, Rhone Valley, France

White burgundy gets all the attention – not to mention the eye-watering price tag – but for a comparable experience, Hermitage blanc can be a revelation. This wine is made from 100% Marsanne, but is a blend of prestigious designated sites on Hermitage hill, from one of the major names in the Rhone valley – Michel Chapoutier.

This wine is peaking right now – dense yet restrained; concentrated but not flabby. What starts as quince, apples and pears on the nose broadens to include hazelnut, white blossom, and some earth and vanilla on the palate.

This has sneaky alcohol at 14% so avoid spice. However, for your rich Creole white fish dishes that need some stuffing without any spice, this will make a marvelous accompaniment.

~$70, various retailers

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