Dealing with Spice When You Pair Wine and Food
Part of the Pairing Food & Wine For Dummies Cheat Sheet
Really spicy foods can ruin the enjoyment of wine (or anything else you drink alongside), but mildly spicy foods can be paired effectively. When your dishes include a lot of spice, follow these tips to ensure you find a pairing that works:
Choose low-moderate alcohol, off-dry or sweet wines. These wines lessen the burn.
Serve wines (even red wines) chilled. Cool liquids provide some temporary temperature relief.
Select ripe, fruity, higher alcohol wines that have the body and implicitly sweet fruit flavor to handle spice. Because capsaicin, the compound responsible for the burn in chiles, is soluble in alcohol, choose wines up to 14 percent alcohol. Wines with alcohol higher than 14 percent increase the burn, however.
Avoid really oaky, tannic wines. Spice exaggerates oaky flavors, and tannins become more astringent and mouth-drying, neither of which are positive changes.