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Wine Advisor Express:
Quenching fiery fare with bubbles

Let's face it: Cajun food isn't really a wine-friendly cuisine, and if you ever go to K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen in New Orleans (or his sister Enola's place in Lafayette, La., which may be even better), you will find only cheap red, white and pink wines on the list. Most people will be drinking ice-cold beer out of long-neck bottles.

If you really want to serve wine with a Cajun dinner, though, here's a surprising suggestion: Go with a cheap sparkling wine! Avoid cheap U.S. sparklers, which are a bleak lot, but consider one of the under-$10 Spanish bubblies like Freixenet or Codorniu. Serve it ice cold, and it will work as well as a beer to quench the heat of your jambalaya, gumbo or blackened redfish. The problem with most dry wines is not that they're too tasteful for Cajun, it's simply that the alcohol in table wines turns the otherwise tasty heat of hot spices into something less pleasant.

The same goes, by the way, for all the world's fiery foods, from Cajun country to Mexico, the Caribbean, India and Southeast Asia: If you want to match hot stuff with wine, go for the bubbles. If you don't insist on having wine with every meal, choose a cold, quenching beer ... or even a dairy-based drink, which is actually the most effective way of all to douse the flames of hot chile peppers. Got milk?

Express Notes:
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This is Wine Advisor Express, the new, quick daily edition of The 30 Second Wine Advisor, distributed Tuesdays through Fridays. To change your E-mail address, switch from daily to the weekly (Mondays only) distribution, or for any other administrative matters, E-mail wine@wineloverspage.com.

Friday, May 11, 2001 Copyright 2001 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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