Cuba is a country with a diverse culture and a long history Being largely influenced by the Spanish colonizers, Cuban recipes are a mixture of Spain, Taino and African flavors with just a touch of Chinese influence.
Being an island as well, the dishes are often made with seafood, lots of tropical fruit, root vegetables and rice.
Traditional Cuban Food Ingredients
The base of Cuban dishes are often rice and beans which can be cooked together or apart. There are a lot of different recipes with rice or beans and this shows a lot about Cuban food and their culture as well. There is always a protein involved in the dishes and this can vary a lot but quite often it is chicken, pork, fish or seafood with beef being one of lesser used sources of protein.
Best Red Wine With Cuban Food
Cuban food is quite rich with starchy vegetables in the base of the dish. Most often containing rice or beans and a source of protein, the red wine choice would be influenced by the protein in the dish. We would suggest sticking with light to medium bodied red wines with low to medium tannins. Acidity should be medium to high and the alcohol should be medium leveled to avoid increasing the spicy sensations of the dishes.
Pinot Noir from USA – Traditional rice and black bean dish with chorizo and bacon called Congri
Gamay from France– Cuban pork chops are a good recipe with this low tannin red wine
Malbec from Argentina – Pulpeta is meatloaf made from a mix of minced meat with lots of herbs cooked on a stove
Tempranillo from Spain – Ropa vieja is a Cuban national dish made from rice and beef, and it pairs nicely with a Tempranillo or Rioja blend based on Tempranillo
Best White Wine With Cuban Food
The fact that Cuba is an island means that there is quite a lot of seafood or fish in their national dishes. Other than that, the dishes are mostly made to be fresher, with rice or beans in the base. This means that white wines with their lighter body, higher acidity and freshness pair perfectly with Cuban dishes.
You can start off with light white wines but even full-bodied white wines will pair nicely.
Riesling from Germany – Platanos Maduros are made with butter, oil and salt and then fried, with a touch of sweetness.
Sauvignon Blanc from France – Arroz Imperial is a dish made from rice, cheese, mayonnaise, bell peppers etc.
Chenin Blanc from South Africa – Lechon Asado is a milk piglet cooked over a fire and it pairs well with an acidic, creamy Chenin Blanc
Chardonnay from Australia – Arroz con Pollo is a classic, rich dish with rice and chicken, seasoned with saffron.
Pairing Wine With Traditional Cuban Recipes
Arroz Con Pollo Wine Pairing
Chardonnay from Australia would be a great pairing with Arroz con Pollo. Arroz con Pollo is a rice dish with chicken, which can be quite rich and nutritious, seasoned with saffron. An Australian Chardonnay with oak aging is a perfect match.
Pulpeta Wine Pairing
Malbec from Argentina is a great pairing for a meatloaf with lots of herbs. The wine is medium bodied with blue and black fruit aromas and a bit of chocolate aroma to complement the Pulpeta.
Congri Wine Pairing
Congri is a rice and black bean dish, also known as moros and cristianos. The dish is starchy, made with bell peppers and herbs to add flavor, which pairs well with the green, vegetal aromas of Pinot Noir.
Lechon Asado Wine Pairing
Lechon Asado is a roasted pork dish made in Cuba. The pork is marinated in citrus and garlic, with a bit of herbal seasoning and it needs a smoky, citrus fruit oriented wine with a high acidity to cut through the pork. Chenin Blanc from South Africa will be a perfect pairing
Ropa Vieja Wine Pairing
Ropa Vieja is a dish consisting of pulled beef cooked with onion, bell pepper and tomato based sauce and rice. This dish needs a medium bodied red wine to balance the beef and tomato based sauce.
Cuban Sandwich Wine Pairing
One of the most popular Cuban meals in the United States is a Cuban Sandwich, or a Cubano. Cubanos originated from Tampa Bay and Key West, Florida where large communities immigrated to. A traditional Cubano is made with deli-sliced ham, French bread, swiss cheese, pickles, mayo and mustard.
The ingredients all make a pretty delicate balance of sweet, salty and tangy and can overpower some lighter wines. However, the sandwich can also be easily overpowered by bolder full-bodied wines. So we recommend something in the middle, even towards the lighter side of things. A Vinho Verde for a white wine and a Pinot Noir or Gamay for a red wine would all be great choices. You can also drink with a nice glass of rosé which complement the sandwich perfectly, and also be nice on a hot day outside.
Pairing Wine With Cuban Desserts
Cuban desserts tend to be a bit lighter with lots of different recipes. With the lighter desserts that have a bit of citrus flavors try going for late harvest Riesling or Botrytized wines with a good acidity. With desserts having chocolate or guava, go for a ruby port wine.