food.and.wine.pairing

(pairing wine with spicy foods)

Spicy foods can be difficult to pair because spice brings out the alcohol in wine making it sting your throat. For this reason, people have long shied away from pairing wines with spicier Mexican, Indian and Asian foods. However, there are some fairly simple things you can pair that will work quite well.

People often drink beer with spicy food, and this works well because the bubbles have the effect of scrubbing the spice out of your mouth. For this same reason, sparkling wines can work incredibly well. Sparkling wines with a touch of residual sugar, like a Sec or an Extra Dry Champagne (don't be fooled - "Extra Dry" is actually sweeter than Brut), work very well.

Both white and red wines will work provided that the wine has fairly low alcohol - anything over about 14.5% ABV and you may start to taste the fire. For white wines many people choose Gewurztraminer, but the acidity of a Riesling works even better, and the touch of sugar in many Rieslings will help to balance out the spice. Even some Sauvignon Blancs or a crisp Spanish Albarino can work nicely.

On the red front, you will want to stay with fruitier wines that are low in alcohol and low in oak. The oak tannins will also bring out the fiery spice. A young Nero d'Avola, Rioja or even a juicy Shiraz are all great choices (but particularly with the Shiraz you'll want to check the alcohol content on the label).