As certain friend of mine likes saying, “I’m in a catch 22 situation”.

What do you do when you have made some spicy food for your friends/family and you do not know what wine to serve? I love spicy food but it is tough to pair with wine. Unbelievably tough. Sometimes the wine aggravates the bitterness and you are left tearing, huffing and puffing like a dragon.

Another problem is when the wine overpowers the spice. If you pick an overbearingly strong wine, you wont feel the spice on the food.

To avoid such nasty encounters, here are tips to consider.

  • Try a Bubbly wine. This gives a degree of contrast. The bright, juicy fruit and tangy acidity of a simple sparkling wine, especially a blanc de noir or extra-dry bottling, will cool powerful spices.
  • Avoid subtle wines.  Since fiery foods numb the taste buds and diminish all but the boldest fruit flavors, it’s a waste to serve old, elegant or complex wines with them.
  • You can’t go wrong with sweet wine.  Tame spices with wines that have some sweetness. The residual sugar in many dry and off-dry wines, such as Riesling and Chenin Blanc, and in many rosés will balance palate-tingling heat.
  • Chose fruity and low alcohol wines. Examples are Sauvignon Blanc and rosé for the spiciest dishes. Fiery foods make high-alcohol wines taste hotter, tannic reds more bitter and oak-aged whites more oaky.
  • Spicy goes with spicy. The bright berry spice of a Zinfandel or peppery Rhône blend will enhance the heat in red-meat dishes; Pinot Gris’s bite and bitterness will complement spicy greens.
  • Try Acidic wines.  Acidity boosts the layers of flavors in a dish while softening its extremes, whether of body, richness, fattiness or spicy heat.

You cant go wrong with this. I think it is up to you to find a balance but I am a huge Zinfandel advocate so I would definitely pair spicy food with a Zinfandel wine. There are many types of peppers with different spiciness . Just make sure that the wine does not overshadow the food.


September 20- 2014