Ever since I began studying for the Certified Specialist of Wine (“CSW”) exam, I have been obsessed with trying new and different wines. Even with wines that I’ve previously tried, I have such a greater understanding and appreciation of the wine, the region, all the way down to the terroir. Despite trying to fit it in with lawyering, Thing 1 and Thing 2, and everyday life, I have enjoyed learning about wine from all around the globe. Of course one of the first countries covered is France. And while I feared learning all that was France, Italy about made me pull my hair out. And while I have just about committed the entire Bordeaux map to memory and even bought my first ever Bordeaux futures, I’m still delving into all of the wines. Each week, we are encouraged to try a wine of the week, but I happily supplement that with other wines as well.
One of our early wines was Sauternes. I mean who knew that duck truffle mousse and bleu cheese with honey were magic when paired with Sauternes?! OK, yes I know lots of people knew, but now I know.
And that it’s also fantastic with sautéed apricot and verbena ice cream which I discovered while dining at Le Jules Verne in Paris.
And I had no idea that such bargains could be had for white Bordeaux, particularly this one from Entre Deux Mers which was another one of our CSW wines of the week. Aside from the great price point, I was also surprised at how much I really enjoyed the wine and have now started buying Bordeaux Blanc. I even learned from a knowledgeable #winefriend that this particular wine was made by Pierre Lurton who also manages the famed Cheval Blanc and Chateau D’Yquem. Always learning.
But aside from special meals or just hanging out trying wines, I’m also on a quest to pair my newly discovered wines with foods we eat on a regular basis. There is no way I’m getting Thing 1 and Thing 2 to eat fois gras or blue cheese. So when I’m deciding on a dinner that everyone will eat, I also want to make something that will pair well with various wines. Given that The Husband is from south Louisiana where Cajun and Creole cuisine reign supreme, we eat our fair share of foods influenced by this region including okra, crawfish, red beans and rice, etc. Many people associate such foods with New Orleans, but these foods are known throughout small towns in Southern Louisiana.
Enter the cold weather and the need for some gumbo. It’s a tough dish to pair as it has a lot going on – a creamy roux (gravy to you) with okra, crab, shrimp, chicken, and sausage in addition to the rice that it’s served with.
While we drink mostly reds, I couldn’t think of one that would work here. And then I had an epiphany and thought about some of the Bordeaux Blancs I’d been buying of late. I found a 2012 L’Esprit de Chevalier Blanc, Pessac-Léognan, which was 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Semillon. If you’re going to have some Bordeaux Blanc, it’s hard to go wrong with wines from the Pessac-Léognan appellation.
I don’t mind drinking wine with a thicker soup like gumbo as I don’t feel like I’m drinking two liquids. If this was chicken noodle soup or something brothy, I don’t know that I’d drink wine at all. The key to pairing wine with a hot dish like a soup or a stew is to ensure that the wine is not too cold. While you shouldn’t drink your white wine ice cold anyway, I drank this one a little warmer than I usually would drink a white wine. Additionally, I wanted something that was both slightly oaked and slightly acidic. Oak to provide some creaminess to pair with the richness of the roux but I also wanted some acid to cut through some of that richness at the same time. This wine with both Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon fit the bill. It was crisp, with nice citrus and mineral notes but also had richness and complexity from the oak. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it paired with the gumbo.
So yes I’m ecstatic that I now have a new go-to for my gumbo. The Husband gets his South Louisiana cuisine and I get my Bordeaux. A happy marriage indeed.