What is Cassoulet?
Traditionally, Cassoulet is a a dish from the Languedoc region of France. It consists of white beans, and various meats such as duck, ham hocks, garlic sausage and goose, which are slow-cooked to allow the flavours to harmonize.
For many, this hearty stew is a favourite cold-weather dish and is akin to many as chilli is to Texas. Everyone has their own recipe, and for some, it may take days to make, whilst for others, all they need is a few hours on a cold and rainy November afternoon.
Best Wine With Cassoulet
Cassoulet is a dense food due to the meat and starchy bean content. This requires a red wine with solid tannin balanced with a crisp acidity such as a Cahors, Châteauneuf du Pape, Shiraz, Côtes du Rhône, or Irouléguy.
- Cahors AOC Red
- French Red Wine, like a Shiraz or Madiran AOC
- Châteauneuf du Pape
- Côtes du Rhône
- American Syrah and Zinfandel Pairings
For the holy grail of food and wine pairing, we recommend pairing Cassoulet with an AOC Cahors. This Malbec based wine from south-western France is just mellow enough to not overwhelm the harmonized flavours that the cook spent hours to days trying to perfect. Meanwhile the solid tannin and crisp acidity have no issue cutting through the rich bean and fatty meat flavours. Plus the amazing velvety texture and savoury ripe red fruit and black cherry flavours of a Cahors just make this combo a marriage made in heaven.
Another amazing pick from the south-west region of France. Irouléguy red wines feature a blend of Tannat, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon that are quite structured and medium bodied. The richness of a cassoulet softens a Irouléguy as astringency, bringing out its fruity sweetness. On the same path, the astringent tannin cuts through the starchy beans and drives right to the heart of the meaty flavour, creating a wonderful burst of heaven for your taste buds to enjoy.
Look for an Irouléguy blended with Cabernet Franc. The hint of vegetal greenness this grape brings to the wine dance well with any herbs used in the cassoulet.
Châteauneuf du Pape
A well aged Châteauneuf du Pape is full-bodied enough to complement a rich cassoulet, and just enough personality to play well with all the savoury meat flavours.
Côtes du Rhône
This blend of Syrah and Grenache are easy drinking and food loving wines that will pair nicely with a Cassoulet. For the most part, Côtes du Rhône is meant to be enjoyed upon release, so you don’t have to worry about picking up a bottle and having to age it for years before enjoying your meal.
American Syrah and Zinfandel Pairings
In a pinch, a gusty Californian Syrah or Zinfandel will deliver the goods with a Cassoulet. We get it, the learning curve to understanding French wines is quite steep, and sometimes you want a wine that is easy to pronounce, find, and figure out. You can’t go wrong with these two wines. Food and wine enthusiasts may cringe that an American wine is being paired a classic culinary French dish, but they can scold me about it in comments below while you enjoy a beautiful pairing.
Can I pair Beer with Cassoulet
Sure you can! Here’s a few we recommend:
Belgian Strong Dark
This deeper style beer will draw out the rich flavours of Cassoulet. For picks, we recommend not going too fruity, as it will change the structure of the dish. Gouden Carolus Cuvee Van de Keizer Blauw would be a good choice. Along the same principles, a Belgian Strong Pale, like Duvel or an American Barelywine (such as Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot), or Beaus’ Belgain-style Black ale (pictured above) would pair just as well.
Cassoulet is not only heavy with the starch of the beans and the richness of the duck, goose and pork, but it’s also incredibly flavourful. An Abbey Dubbel has just enough carbonation to lift those rich flavours while injecting enough of its dark flavour into the mix to complement the dish.
If you’re not in the mood to match the richness of a Cassoulet, try something bright to lighten up the dish like a Flemish Sour. The acidity of this beer offers a nice contrast which brings a nice finesse to this pairing.
Cassoulet & Altbier
The snappy hop finish of Altbier is a perfect foil to the dense bean-starch body of Cassoulet. This beer can saw right through the beans, along with the richness of the duck, goose and pork. The slight fruity flavours of this beer go amazingly well with the meats within the Cassoulet.
French Bière de Garde and Cassoulet
Saving the best for last, Bière de Garde has enough bitterness and carbonation to explode through the starchy bean barrier and plow right to the meaty goodness. The biscuity like malt dances amazingly with the duck and garlic sausage. On the nose of a Bière de Garde, you’ll find herbal notes of anise and wood which pair well with any herbs added to your Cassoulet.
Do you have a favourite Beer or Wine and Cassoulet Pairing? Let us know in the comments below!