It’s Mardi Gras … time for a spicy, meaty Jambalaya paired with a cool,crisp SB

Pairing:  Jambalaya and 2013 Sea Fog Sauvignon Blanc from the Napa Valley

Food:  Mardi Gras in New Orleans is a really big deal … parades, floats, costumes, revelry … and food (and drink!) and lots (excess?) of it! This “Carnival” is celebrated in places throughout the world and held on the day before the start of the liturgical season Lent leading up to Easter. Lent is a time observed, in part, by fasting and denying oneself of favorite foods and beverages. So, Mardi Gras/ Carnival is a last chance to consume such favorites, including meat. Jambalaya is one of the most common food traditions during Mardi Gras. Basically it is rice and vegetables flavored with Cajun spices with one or more meats added to it, usually some combination of chicken, ham, andouille sausage, and shrimp. We use all four (gotta get that meat in before Lent!).


Wine:  When one is talking about the Napa Valley wine region just north of San Francisco Bay, the topic is usually the famed Cabernet Sauvignon. And rightfully so … the Cabs here are often the benchmark for the world’s most popular red wine. But, Napa is a great place for growing other wine grapes. Sauvignon Blanc is one of those varieties that often gets overlooked among the vast expanse of Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards. Sea-Fog Sauvignon Blanc is made by The Grade Cellars in the Calistoga district in the northern part of Napa. Calistoga is noted for, among other things, its hot springs and spas.


Tasting Notes:  OK … imagine yourself on a breezy day in June, out by the clothesline with the dry sheets billowing in the breeze. Your nose presses up against the sheets as you take them down off the line … and a clean, fresh smell caresses your senses. Nearby, the honeysuckle is in full bloom and you get the lovely honey-scented fragrance of them on the breeze. That’s the best way to describe the nose of this utterly delightful golden yellow wine. The palate extends these clean, crisp qualities added to the gentle flavors of green melon and white flowers. These clean, fresh tastes are a perfect foil to the spicy Jambalaya. Wonderful pairing, but this wine is great, too, all by itself.

Other Wines That Pair Well with Jambalaya:  Pinot Grigio (Italy), Albarino (Spain), Sancerre (France), Chenin Blanc (South Africa)

Other Foods That Pair Well with Sauvignon Blanc:  Fried Chicken, Grilled Shellfish, Raw Oysters, Raw Tomatoes (to name just a few foods that go well with this food-friendly wine)

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Enchiladas and Sauvignon Blanc … Mexico Teams Up with New Zealand

Pairing: Creamy Enchiladas (Enchiladas Suizas) with Chicken, Tomatoes and Green Chile paired with 2014 Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc

Food: Our “go-to” source for Mexican cuisine is Rick Bayless. This recipe for enchiladas is from his cookbook, Mexico, One Plate at a Time. It calls for using shredded leftover roast chicken, but I’m sure any cooked chicken would work just fine. As  Bayless points out, these Enchiladas Suizas “… pay homage to a distant land where cream rules” (i.e., Switzerland). It’s a fairly involved sauce recipe which I won’t try to duplicate here. Suffice is to say, the recipe for the sauce makes a lot and freezes beautifully. The picture below shows leftover sauce from about 6 months ago made into fresh enchiladas. Once you have the sauce, the enchiladas are a snap. Here is a link to Bayless’s recipe for Enchiladas Suizas. It is well worth the effort. Positively delicious!


Wine:  Yes, I know … why wouldn’t you pair this meal with a nice Mexican beer?  It’d be perfect. But this blog is about finding a good pairing of wine with most any meal. And, believe me, the cool, crisp, fresh taste of this Clifford Bay Sauvignon Blanc will surprise you with how well it goes with the creamy, spicy enchiladas. This wine comes from the Marlborough region of New Zealand which is the northern most part of the South Island. It is the largest wine-growing region in the country, and though they make other wines there (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, etc), Sauvignon Blanc is king. It is often described as one of the best places in the world for growing this grape.  And the price … $10. Terrific!


Tasting:  Pale yellow in color. A delightful, clean, fresh smell on the nose, with clear notes of lemon and grapefruit. A crisp, clean lemon flavor continues on the palate and really works as a terrific complement to the spicy, rich flavors of the enchiladas. On the finish, one gets some grapefruit entering the profile. Very, very nice!

Other Wines That Pair Well with This Food: Gruner Veltliner, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Beaujolais.

Other Food That Pairs Well with This Wine:  Jambalaya, Fajitas, Fish Tacos, Taco Chips and Salsa.

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