Cassoulet pairs best with savoury medium-bodied red wines with ample tannin and crisp acidity such as Cahors, Syrah, Bandol, Irouléguy, Côte-Rôtie and Corbières. Cassoulet is a slow-cooked dish consisting of white beans, duck, garlic sausage, pigs feet, and ham hocks. The magic of Cassoulet is that the white beans absorb all the meaty flavours while maintaining their creamy shape and texture. Cassoulet is a dense dish and requires acidity to cut through the rich carbohydrates and fats, along with tannin to deal with the protein.
Recipes vary for Cassoulet, and every chef will have their own recipe for this classic dish. If you are making Cassoulet at home, have fun with it! At the heart of it, Cassoulet is just a bean and meat stew, and it’s nothing to get your feathers in a ruffle when finding wines to pair with it. In fact, Cassoulet is a food-friendly dish. Garlic and perhaps tomatoes used in Cassoulet are the only difficult flavours you need to watch out for.
While French reds pair best with Cassoulet, due to centuries of evolving food and wine pairings, French wines aren’t always accessible, or they are flat out confusing to find. Furthermore, French wines have evolved to, and many do not resemble the same wines that French villagers drank with Cassoulet back in the 1800s. Thus, I have listed plenty of alternative red wines in the table below. If you are a French Wine and Cuisine purist, feel free to leave me a message about how outraged and offended you are in the comments. For the rest of us, well, we’ll keep enjoying our food and wine in the company of our friends.
Best Wine with Cassoulet
|Red Wine||Cahors AOC||Cassoulet|
|Red Wine||Bandol, Red AOC||Cassoulet|
|Red Wine||Irouléguy AOC||Cassoulet|
|Red Wine||Châteauneuf du Pape, Red||Cassoulet|
|Red Wine||Côtes du Roussillon, Red||Cassoulet|
|Red Wine||Cornas AOC||Cassoulet|
|Red Wine||Madiran AOC||Cassoulet|
|Red Wine||Côtes du Rhône, Red||Cassoulet|
|Red Wine||Costières de Nimes, Red||Cassoulet|
|Red Wine||Rioja Crianza||Cassoulet|
|Red Wine||Saint Chinian, Red||Cassoulet|
|Red Wine||Faugères (AOP)||Cassoulet|
|Red Wine||Corbières, Red (AOC)||Cassoulet|
|Red Wine||Fronton AOP||Cassoulet|
|Red Wine||Barbera DOC||Cassoulet|
|Red Wine||Rhone, Red Wine||Cassoulet|
Cahors & Cassoulet Pairing
Cahors and Cassoulet is a holy grail of food and wine pairing. Whenever we made Cassoulet in my restaurant, we’d always recommend a bottle of Cahors for its loud plum, chocolate, tobacco, black cherry and dried herb flavours. Cahors is a French Malbec from the southwest region of France and it features medium-high acidity and high tannin. You’ll want to age your Cahors for at least five years as young Cahors tastes course while older Cahors will be rich and velvety.
A feisty Cahors, with its supple tannin and vibrant acidity suit the flavours of duck and pork perfectly as the tannin blends in and softens with the meat. Meanwhile, the acidity of Cahors cuts through the fat and beans. While Cahors is powerful, it knows how to hold back enough to not overpower the hard-earned slow-cooked flavours of Cassoulet. This is because the high acidity in Cahors amplifies those earthy, meaty and herbal notes of the dish. Furthermore, the heavy protein of Cassoulet softens the tannin in the wine and draws out the velvety chocolate, plum and cherry flavours while the wine’s herbal and tobacco notes flirt elegantly with your taste buds.
An Argentinian Malbec will work well, but it won’t be a five-star pairing. Cahors comes across as more savoury and complementary to the Cassoulet’s flavours. Malbec from Argentina is much more fruit-forward and chocolaty. Argentinian Malbec is also more appealing to new-world taste buds and if you are serving Cassoulet at a dinner party where your guests don’t adventure very far in their wine preferences, Malbec from Argentina will be a bigger hit vs a savoury Cahors.
Château du Cèdre, Château Pech de Jammes, Clos de Gamot and Château Pineraie are just a few of the many wonderful Cahors producers.
Bandol & Cassoulet Pairing
A red Bandol from Provence, France is a blend of Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Grenache and perhaps Syrah and Carignan. What makes Bandol so lovely with Cassoulet is that it is that the wine is full-bodied with high tannin and medium acidity. The high tannin of the wine dances perfectly with the protein heavy meats and fat found in Cassoulet while the acidity cuts through those rich beans and fats.
Dried herbs, earth, leather, minerals, meat and spice are all found in this rich and velvety red wine and complement the savoury and rich flavours of Cassoulet. Notes of blackberries, chocolate, black cherries and plum work their magic on the nose and tongue and provide ample refreshment with each sip.
Favourite producers of Bandol include Domaine Tempier, Mas de la Rouvière, and Château Romassan.
Côte-Rôtie & Cassoulet Pairing
Côte-Rôtie is a Northern Rhone Valley red wine that is primarily Syrah, however up to 20% may be blended with Viognier. Côte-Rôtie has a lovely bacon and smoky smell that makes it amazing with Cassoulet. Côte-Rôtie also displays flavours of black pepper, earth, game, raspberries, spices, violets, white pepper and cherries, and plum. Thus, with Côte-Rôtie you’ll find a savoury wine to complement the rich slow-cooked flavours of Cassoulet. However, the wine also has enough fruit to provide refreshment.
Côte-Rôtie is high in tannin and medium with acidity and is rich, full-bodied and velvety on the tongue. My favourite producers include Chapoutier, Guigal, and Domaine Jamet.
As an alternative, any Syrah or Shiraz will work with Cassoulet. Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape, however, they refer to different styles. French Syrah will lean more toward the savoury and earthy side which makes it ideal with slow-cooked meals. Earth, black pepper, game and cold cuts are prominent on the nose of Syrah, as well as the various fruits.
Shiraz, on the other hand, is a new-world style and popular in Australia. In Australia, Shiraz is much more fruit-forward and jammy and appeals to North American taste-buds where we prefer fruit over savoury. Shiraz isn’t going to complement your Cassoulet as well as a Syrah or Côte-Rôtie, however, if you’re not into earthy or savoury wines, Shiraz makes for a wonderful alternative.
Irouléguy & Cassoulet Pairing
Irouléguy is a red wine from the south-west region of France that is a blend of Tannat, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. Cabernet Franc, in particular, adds a kiss of leafy greenness and herbaceousnesss that blends in wonderfully with Cassoulet.
With Irouléguy, you’re going to find a mellow fruitiness that doesn’t overwhelm the rich Cassoulet flavours. Instead, the proteins and fats of Cassoulet soften the wine’s tannin and brings out the joyous fruit flavours. Furthermore, you get firm tannin and a sharpened acidity that cuts through the fat, carbs and proteins to accentuate the Cassoulet’s slow-cooked flavours. Irouléguy and Cassoulet is a pairing made in heaven.