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Jamaica is an island located in the Caribbean sea with a long history and rich cultural heritage. The island was influenced by a lot of different cultures which can still be noticed in the ingredients and the dishes that are found in Jamaica. The slaves brought from Africa brought their fruit Ackee and their style of cooking, the Spanish brought Escabeche to the island, the Asian influence can be found in dishes like roti and curry goat.

Traditional Jamaican Food Ingredients

Jamaican food is quite rich with lots of different ingredients and spices. You will always find a typical African fruit called Ackee in Jamaican cuisine, lots of spices such as curry powder and allspice which consists of pimento. Cod fish is often used as well and it is served with fried dumplings, cassava bread, breadfruit and bread.

Best Red Wine With Jamaican Food

Red wine pairs well with meat dominated dishes like oxtail, jerk chicken or Jamaican beef. However one should always be careful with choosing red wines for Jamaican food as it is quite spicy and high alcohol wines can bring the heat up. Look for red wines with lower tannin level with a low to medium body. Acidity should be higher to be able to balance the salty dishes and flavor profile should be red fruit oriented with a bit of sweet spices. Pinot Noir from USA – Jerk pork will pair well with a Pinot Noir from Oregon Gamay from France – Jerk chicken is seasoned in the same way as pork, although it’s a bit lighter. Zinfandel from USA– Oxtail is a good pairing for a slightly richer Zinfandel

Best White Wine With Jamaican Food

Since Jamaican food is considered to be very spicy it pairs better with white wine. There are also a lot of seafood or fish dishes, which is quite expected for an island culture. One of the Jamaican national dishes is Ackee and Codfish, which is a great dish for white wine. There is a wide variety of white wines that you can drink with Jamaican food. Try having a dry to off-dry white wine with a light to medium body. Acidity level should be on the higher level to add freshness and balance the salty dishes. Riesling from Germany – Pepper Shrimps will work well with an off-dry Riesling as the sugar will balance the heat of the dish. Chenin Blanc from France – Ackee and Codfish are a great pairing with an acidic Chenin Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc from France – A vegetal, herbal wine will complement Callaloo perfectly. Chardonnay from Australia  – Grilled Snapper Escovitch is a great dish with an oak aged Chardonnay.

Pairing Wine With Traditional Jamaican Recipes

Callaloo Wine Pairing

Callaloo is a green leafy vegetable cooked with onion, garlic and tomatoes. The leafy, vegetal flavor pairs perfectly with a Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé  Sauvignon Blanc.

Pepper Shrimps Wine Pairing

This classic Jamaican dish is quite fresh, flavorful, as it is cooked in broth with onion, garlic, Allspice. We would recommend having an off-dry German Riesling as the sugar level will balance the heat but the acidity is still quite high and refreshing.

Ackee and Codfish  Wine Pairing

Chenin Blanc from France would make a great pairing with Ackee and Codfish. Ackee is a slightly nutty flavored fruit which complemented the salted codfish. The acidity of the Chenin Blanc will balance the saltiness of the dish and match with the nuttiness of the ackee.

Grilled Snapper Escovitch Wine Pairing

Aussie Chardonnays tend to be on the fuller bodied side. The ones produced in Margaret river are a fresher style Chardonnays with a bit of oak influence. This will pair nicely with the fish, and the acidity of the wine will cut through the snapper.

Oxtail Wine Pairing

A traditional Jamaican oxtail dish has soy sauce, brown sugar, bell pepper and butter beans. A wine with higher tannin level and a spicy bouquet will complement the dish perfectly. Zinfandel is a great pairing for oxtail.

Pairing Wine With Jerk Chicken

Jamaican Jerk Chicken is probably the most popular Jamaican dish eaten outside of the island (and probably within the island as well). Chicken is a light meat and easily overpowered, but the seasonings are strong and spicy. The chicken is most often grilled too, so there isn’t a whole lot of fat content on it. Pick a wine that is low in alcohol, but also a wine that won’t easily be overpowered by the strong seasonings. If you want to get adventurous, a Syrah Rosé would be amazing with this dish. It is also nice on hot days, which are common in Jamaica. A Gamay or Pinot Noir would also be very good if you would like a red wine instead. For a white wine with jerk chicken, try a Riesling, which will have sweetness to counteract the spiciness in the dish, but also has the body to stand up to the strong seasonings and flavors.

Jerk Pork Wine Pairing

This pork dish is made with vinegar and soy sauce which influences the dish quite a lot. The vinegar increases the acidity of the dish and the soy sauce needs a red wine to match it. Pinot Noir from the USA has just the right tannin level with a good acidity to match the dish.

Pairing Wine With Jamaican Desserts

Most popular Jamaican desserts have coconut, rum and banana in them. The best wines to match these flavors would be late harvest rieslings, Sauternes or Tokaji or maybe even Oloroso Sherry.