Cajun and Creole are two terms that are often used interchangeably. The similarities of these two cuisines offer plenty of opportunity for cross-over when it comes to wine pairing. In both you will find an immense depth of flavor, developed from a love of bold seasoning with fresh, local herbs, rich, buttery sauces, and a base of chopped onion, celery and green pepper. These rich, bold flavors are going to be better matched to white wines, which will bring balance and refresh the palate, but there are some instances in which red wines will work, too.
Best Red Wine with Cajun & Creole Food
Reds are not the best match with this cuisine, due its tendency to lean towards spice, but if you prefer red wine, choose light, fruity red that is low in tannins.
- Pinot Noir: light, fruit-forward red; very food-friendly.
- Grenache: floral with strong berry flavor and notes of citrus.
- Lambrusco: a slight bubbliness with strong berry notes.
- Zinfandel: fruit forward red wine with moderate tannins and acidity.
Best White Wine With Cajun & Creole Food
White or Rosé wines will be your best bet when it comes to the rich, and oftentimes, spicy dishes that embody Cajun and creole cuisine.
- Oaked Chardonnay: dry, buttery and with moderate acidity.
- Sauvignon Blanc: dry, highly acidic, fruity, and herbaceous.
- Rosé: bright, crisp acidity with strong berry flavors.
- Riesling: Very food-friendly. Light, sweet, and highly acidic.
Pairing Wine With Etouffee
The ever-popular Etouffee is a Louisiana staple. Etouffee means ‘smothered’ and this quintessential southern dish consists of a roux, the holy trinity (onion, celery and bell pepper), tomato, hot sauce and garlic. Throw in some shrimp, crawfish or chicken, pour it over rice and you’ve got yourself an Etouffee. Now for the wine:
Wine With Shrimp Etouffee
Shrimp is probably the most common Etouffee. For this a crisp Riesling will be the perfect complement to elevate your meal. A Pinot Blanc is also a good choice. Albarino is also excellent due to the salinity and acidity in the wine, which pairs perfect with the shrimp and Etouffee sauce.
Wine With Crawfish Etouffee
A slightly sweet and fruity white will perfectly balance the spice in this dish while also complementing the crawfish. A Chenin Blanc or Pinot Grigio will do nicely, or try a bright sparkling wine. If you prefer red, a Grenache would also work well.
Wine With Chicken Etouffee
For Chicken Etouffee, we recommend a nice lightly oaked Chardonnay to match the richness of the dish. If you do not care for oaked wines, however, a Viognier is also an excellent choice.
Wine With Jambalaya
Jambalaya is a Louisiana classic that combines rice, peppers, sausage and, usually, seafood or chicken.
Wine With Creole Jambalaya
Creole Jambalaya has tomatoes, so a medium-bodied, acidic red such as Zinfandel or Rioja is a perfect pairing. If you prefer white, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc will also pair nicely.
Wine With Cajun Jambalaya
This dish does not have tomatoes and will do well with a Beaujolais, but you could also easily go with a Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling, as well.
Pairing Wine With Various Cajun & Creole Dishes
While Cajun & Creole do have some shared similarities, and both have roots in the state of Louisiana, and New Orleans, specifically, they are ultimately two distinct groups. In terms of cuisine, Cajun food tends to be more rustic. Its origins can be found in the bayous of Louisiana and is a unique blend of Southern and French cuisine. Creole food, on the other hand, is more multicultural. Having found its identity in the heart of New Orleans, Creole food takes on aspects of European, Native American, and African cuisine.
Wine With Shrimp Creole
Shrimp Creole is a rich, hearty, tomato-based stew filled with spices and served with rice. The tomatoes and spice can make wine pairing a challenge, but an off-dry white wine is a great complement to a complex dish like this. Try a Gewurztraminer or Riesling.
Wine With Boudin Sausage
This spicy pork and rice sausage will be well matched with a Sauvignon Blanc or Grenache, if you prefer red wine.
Wine With Cajun Fries
It doesn’t get better than Champagne with Cajun Fries. The high acidity will cool the palate from the spiciness of the fries while also cutting through the salt and fat.
Wine With Crawfish & Seafood Boil
An effervescent sparkling wine or bright Riesling will be the perfect match to this downhome classic stew.
Wine With Red Beans and Rice
This New Orleans classic can go red or white for wine pairings. A Pinot Noir will complement the meaty profile of the beans, while a Chardonnay complements the starch-heavy dish.
Wine With Gumbo
Gumbo is a full-flavored dish that can pair with a red or white. For white, a Sauvignon Blanc will be your best choice. For red, a low-tannin red like Pinot Noir will pair nicely.
Wine With Muffaletta
A popular dish by Italian immigrants in New Orleans, Muffaletta is a charcuterie and a spicy Creole olive salad. The default choice here would be an Italian Lambrusco. An earthy Rioja will also stand up to the strong flavors of cured meats and olives in this sandwich. On the other hand, a crisp Rosé can offer sweet fruit flavor to balance all of the salt and fat.
Wine With Andouille Sausage
A Riesling or Rosé will have the right amount of acidity to cut through the spice and fat of the sausage making either wine a great match.
Wine With Blackened Chicken
You could pair blackened chicken with a white, but a Pinot Noir or Zinfandel will really complement the smoky, earthy flavors of this dish.
Wine With Okra Creole
The citrus-focused Grüner Veltliner complements the okra well and the acidity balances the spice.
Wine With Catfish
Pinot Grigio or Chenin Blanc will do well with Catfish, regardless of its preparation. Cava (a Spanish sparkling wine) is also a great choice to drink with catfish.