Jambalaya: Tapping Into Louisiana’s History
In the late 1700s, Louisiana was under Spanish rule. The French were desperate to make paella but were unable to source saffron. So, they made do with tomatoes to come up with what we know as the Creole Jambalaya. When tomatoes became scarce, they improvised the recipe further, and what we got was Cajun Jambalaya. Jambalaya is a famous New Orleans or Southern special consisting of rice, meat, vegetables, spices, and seasoning. The proteins come from chicken, pork sausages, seafood, or even a combination of these meats and you can customize the level of spice according to your liking.
Jambalaya started as a staple at church fairs, but as the dish went mainstream, it became a common fare at family gatherings, weddings, and public events. This spicy dish can be cooked in a single pot over an open fire. The Creole Jambalaya is also called red jambalaya, getting its deep red color from tomatoes. The recipe also includes onion, celery, and bell pepper. The Cajun Jambalaya has a smoky flavor as the smoke from the wood infuses the meat with greater depth and texture.
What Wines Pair Well With Jambalaya
One great thing about jambalaya is that the dish has several variations, with no fixed recipe. So, there is immense scope for pairing this dish with a range of wines. The wine you select depends on two factors in the jambalaya: whether it is Creole/ Cajun, and what type of protein is added. If you’re using white meat like chicken, goose, or fish, you may want to pair your Jambalaya with a glass of chardonnay. The wine provides a fresh, crispy addition that you need to balance out the dish whereas the jambalaya will enhance the flavors and aromas of your wine.
Sauvignon Blancs pair especially well with Creole Jambalaya. Fruity and light Chenin Blanc goes remarkably well with the flavor of fish, chicken, and lean pork and spices. If you’re thinking of red wines, it’s a no-brainer that Cajun Jambalayas pair best with Rioja. This is because the wine greatly complements any kind of meat present in the dish, given its oaky spiciness along with hints of chocolate, berries, and tobacco. Also, the spices of the jambalaya neutralize any excess oakiness from the wine. Another option would be to go for a Zinfandel, which is great with Cajun Jambalaya given its full-bodied and balanced flavor.
Best White Wines With Jambalaya
El Enemigo Chardonnay
- Winery — El Enemigo
- Country/Region — Argentina, Mendoza
- Type — Argentinian Chardonnay
- Aroma — Apple, Pear, Peach, Lime, Orange Blossom, Smoke, Vanilla Spice, Cassis
- Grapes — Chardonnay
- Taste — Peach, Apricot, Nectarine, Brioche Bread, Toasted Wood, Pepper, Curry, Ginger
- Alcohol Content — 14%
- Sugar — Dry
- Pairing — Jambalaya, Seafood, Shrimp, Halibut, Roast Chicken, Camembert
Pushing the Boundaries
The El Enemigo Chardonnay is a stunning aged chardonnay from the vineyards of Mendoza in Argentina, one of the most stunning regions in the Argentinian State. Originating from the winery, El Enemigo, meaning “as the enemy,” symbolizes the journey of winemaker Alejandro Vigil and historian Adrianna Catena. Given its rich background and varietal profile, Vigil envisioned this chardonnay to push the boundaries, along the lines of a Fino Sherry.
El Enemigo Chardonnay is aged under flor and as such has a complex palate with hints of yeast, oak, and flor. There is a saline, yeast-like taste that ultimately ends in a tapering long flavor finish, as you detect hints of lemon and apple. Aromatically, it contains a melody of these tones with varietal aromas from the barrel highlighting the attractive profile of the wine. Based on Argentinian Chardonnay, the wine is vinified in French oak barrels of five-hundred liter capacity, for forty days at the Vineyards in Gualtallary, Tupungato (Valle de Uco) and then aged for nine months.
Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc – Viognier
- Winery — Pine Ridge
- Country/Region — Napa Valley, California, United States
- Type — Californian White Blend
- Aroma — Pineapple, Citrus, Apple, Honey, Pear
- Grapes — Viognier, Chenin Blanc
- Taste — Peach, Strawberry, Green Apple, Pear, Grapefruit
- Alcohol Content — 12.5%
- Sugar — Dry
- Pairing — Jambalaya, Grilled Cheese, Creamy Salmon, Sea Bass
Full of Character
A vivacious and veritable wine from the valleys and vineyards of the Sacramento River Delta, the holistic elements of this wine compose and distill a distinct flavor profile, making it the best white wine with jambalaya. Made in Pine Ridge, with Chenin Blanc grapes, this US wine is based on the “Californian White Blend.” The process involves the core of the blend, the Chenin Blanc, it is harvested at low sugar levels which allows the retention of the wine’s crisp character and vibrancy.
A small portion of twenty percent Viognier (white wine grape variety) is harvested at a higher sugar level to accentuate the aroma profile and added to the blend. As a result, the wine has a peachy and floral taste profile with crisp tones. It contains a mix of varied tones of orange blossom, white peach, jasmine tea, and honeysuckle – a medley of refreshing tastes and textures and a long clean finish with a hint of lime.
Hans Greyl Sauvignon Blanc
- Winery — Hans Greyl
- Country/Region — New Zealand, South Island, Marlborough
- Type — New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
- Aroma — Kiwi, Nettle, Blood Orange, Lime, Fresh Straw
- Grapes — Sauvignon Blanc
- Taste — Gooseberry, Lemon, Elderflower, Pear, Tropical Fruit
- Alcohol Content — 12%
- Sugar — Dry
- Pairing — Jambalaya, Goat Cheese, Shellfish, Fried Calamari, Chicken Salad
A selection from New Zealand, Hans Greyl Sauvignon Blanc is made in South Island, Marlborough region at Hans Greyl vineyard. The grapes are assorted and then moved through further stages of fermentation in a temperature-controlled environment.
Post-fermentation, the wine is aged for a few months before bottling. The wine is golden in color with a hint of green. It is dominated by a tropical aromatic profile including pineapple, pear, and white flowers. On the tasting palate, hints of gooseberry and tropical flavors are quite evident. A classic take on the popular Marlborough style, the wine gives a refreshing and clean palate finish with a juicy, fruity taste.
Best Red Wines With Jambalaya
La Rioja Alta Viña Alberdi Reserva
- Winery — La Rioja Alta
- Country/Region — Spain, Rioja
- Type — Spanish Rioja
- Aroma — Cherry, Raspberry, Plum, Honeysuckle, Violet, Charred Wood, Cinnamon Spice, Paprika, Tobacco
- Grapes — Tempranillo
- Taste — Blackberry, Prune, Grapefruit, Lemon, Cedar, Cassis
- Alcohol Content — 12.6%
- Sugar — Dry
- Pairing — Jambalaya, Fried Chicken, Roast Pork, Pigeon, Venison, Chorizo, Iberian Jamon, Manchego
A Traditional Spaniard
A traditional blend made from Tempranillo grapes, the La Rioja Alta Viña Alberdi Reserva is a wonder on the palate. It is a Spanish Rioja Red wine, made in La Rioja Alta, Spain. Viña Alberdi is particularly notable for its versatility in being paired as a companion to different foods, especially for being the best red wine with jambalaya.
The Rioja Wine blends are typically formed by blending fruits from three sub-regions, Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa, and Rioja Oriental. From the vineyards in Alavesa, and Rioja Alta, located at higher elevations, the fruits produced are both juicy and tender. The warmer and drier Rioja Oriental produces wines with a deep color, rich texture, and great body.
La Rioja Alta Viña Alberdi Reserva is made from Tempranillo grapes, harvested from the Mayorita, Rebollar and Bardal Vineyards. The wine is produced in the Bordeaux style. After fermentation, the wines are aged for two years in barrels made from American oak.
The wine carries a classic taste profile, with hints of spices, leather, and fruits. Even with new wood, hints of oak are perfectly blended into the wine. A slight hint of tannins is also evident, giving it that perfect balance. On the aromatic end, there are hints of caramel, vanilla, coffee, prune, and red fruit jam.
Michael David Winery Earthquake Zinfandel
- Winery — Michael David Winery
- Country/Region — Lodi, Central Valley, California, United States
- Type — Californian Zinfandel
- Aroma — Cocoa, Vanilla, Coffee, Spice, Oak
- Grapes — Zinfandel
- Taste — Blackberry, Cherry, Plum, Dark Chocolate, Vanilla, Oak
- Alcohol Content — 15.5%
- Sugar — Dry
- Pairing — Jambalaya, Ribeye Steak, Roast Pork Loin, Lamb Chops, Beef Burger
The Earthquake Zinfandel is a fun take on hard-hitting flavor profiles. The wine is made at the Michael David Winery from Zinfandel grapes grown in California. The winery is named after siblings Michael and David Phillips, who are fifth-generation winemakers.
The wine carries forward the Phillips family legacy of making quality wines with fun, quirky labels. The wine has a clear, daring, and concentrated flavor profile. Aromatically layered with blackberry, espresso, and spices, this appealing red ruby wine is flavorful and layered and leaves hints of black cherry and dark chocolate on the palate. Its complex flavor makes it an excellent jambalaya wine pairing.
The wines listed above make for the perfect jambalaya wine match, whether you serve it alongside or use it as an ingredient. So, the next time you plan to have Jambalaya on your menu, make sure you also stock up on a bottle of the best wine with jambalaya for an unforgettable gastronomic experience. Bon Appetit!