February is marked by festivals, feasts and free-flowing libations all over the world. Whether you circle Mardi Gras or Chinese New Year in your calendar or not, this time of year offers a great opportunity to pair wines with unique foods and flavors. Celebrate the cultural melting pot that is America and raise a glass to experiencing something new to savor!
Mardi Gras Pairings:
Mardi Gras is a great time to enjoy Cajun cuisine, known for being spicy, richly flavored and comforting. Signature dishes for Mardi Gras include King Cake – a colorful, sugary braided pastry with cinnamon filling and glazed topping. Thousands of these popular cakes are consumed in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. The cake often features a small plastic baby, symbolic of the baby Jesus. The person who is served the slice with the doll is said to have good luck.
Pair this sweet celebratory cake with a glass of something bubbly, sparkling and fun!
N’awlins-Style Rice with Shrimp and Sausage Recipe:
2 tablespoons McCormick® Mixed Pickling Spice
1 lb smoked sausage or Andouille, cut into ½ inch pieces
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped onions
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
½ teaspoon McCormick® Red Pepper, Crushed
½ teaspoon McCormick® Thyme Leaves
1 cup long grain rice
3 cups chicken broth
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cans (14 ½ oz. each) diced tomatoes, undrained
Hot sauce, to taste
- Place the pickling spice in the center of piece of cheesecloth or coffee filter. Tie tightly with long piece of string.
- Cook and stir sausage, celery, onion and bell pepper in large heavy skillet on medium-high heat about 5 minutes or until sausage begins to brown. Add red pepper, thyme, rice and pickling spice bundle.
- Pour in chicken broth. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in shrimp and tomatoes. Cover and cook on medium heat 6 to 7 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Remove pickling spice bundle before serving.
- With a spiced, savory Cajun dish like this, you’ll need a bright, crisp and cool wine like a Sauvignon Blanc to pair with it. This varietal balances the heat and cuts through the richness of a classic gumbo-style recipe.
Chinese New Year Pairings:
Chinese New Year is an important holiday that celebrates the turn of the Chinese calendar. Chinese New Year is often referred to as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival. Families and friends gather on this holiday to decorate, watch fireworks and enjoy a family or communal meal. Chinese dishes feature a large range of flavors, from the tongue-scorching hot to sweet or sour. Red is considered the luckiest color in China, and red decorations are used for important events and celebrations. With this in mind, we’ve chosen our favorite red wine pairings to celebrate Chinese New Year.
For spicy, Sichuan-style dishes: Bold reds with enough tannins to shine through and not be overpowered by big flavors.
For rich dishes that are on the sweeter side: Reds that offer balance, not too sweet or too dry.
Szechuan Sweet & Sour Chicken Recipe:
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes,
- 1 medium green bell pepper, cut into thin strips
- 1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
- 1 can (8 oz.) pineapple chunks, undrained
- ½ cup Lawry’s® Szechuan Sweet & Sour BBQ Marinade with Sesame Oil
- Heat oil in large skillet on high heat. Add chicken; stir fry 5 minutes. Add vegetables; stir fry 2 to 3 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender-crisp.
- Stir pineapple and marinade into skillet; stir fry until mixture is heated through. Serve over cooked rice, if desired.