What To Pair With spicy food?

Spicy foods can be tricky to pair with wine, which is why Margaritas and Sangria are usually served with spicy Mexican food. But it is possible to pair wines with spicy foods.

Let’s dive into why it’s a little more challenging to pair a wine with spice.

Spice, like the kind from chili peppers, will increase the bitterness one perceives in the wine and increase the heat sensation from the alcohol. It will also decrease fruit flavors and sweetness one tastes in the wine.

These effects can have a detrimental impact on a wine if the wrong one is chosen. In fact, the spice has the potential to cause a really fantastic wine to taste terrible. Thus, here are a few tips to avoid this experience…

  • Opt for white, fruity wine or red fruity wine because the fruit will help moderate the spice and hold up to the spice
  • Wines that are slightly sweet will pair well because they will often help ease the spice. Additionally, since spice reduces the amount of sweetness perceived on the palate, the sweetness in the wine will less perceptible.
  • Avoid wines that have a lot of tannin, like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah. The spice in the food will make these wine styles taste bitter.
  • Avoid high alcohol wines because the alcohol will increase the burn you experience from the spice in the food (of course, some people like this)

A few recommendations…

  • Sparkling wine (off-dry or sweet)
  • Riesling
  • Chenin Blanc
  • Albariño
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Off-Dry Rosé/White Zinfandel
  • Beaujolais/Gamay
  • Rioja
  • Pinot Noir (young and fruity from California)