4 Wines That Pair With Spicy Food

Drink wine with all food, every day

My lockdown hobby has been wine. It started around the Tiger King era, with a good case. Then, around Ozark time, I purchased a book that taught me the basics. After that I completed my level two WSET qualification (Selling Sunset). I am obsessed. The best (and maybe the most obvious) revelation I’ve had was that you can pair wine with everything. Any kind of food or indeed occasion – there’s a wine for that.

Side bar: I was just trying to remember the various popular TV shows that marked the different stages of the quarantine, and one of the most popular search terms is ‘What is the most sexually graphic program on Netflix/Amazon Prime’. Desperate times. Especially as apparently Orange Is The New Black is one of them. Just Google ‘porn’!

Anyway, a common misconception is that you can’t enjoy wine with spicy food. Whilst I wouldn’t recommend pairing that really fancy wine that you were given as a gift with a vindaloo, you can have wine with cuisine that brings the heat. Thus maximising your wine drinking time! Now, who wouldn’t want that?

Cabernet Sauvignon
A combination of procrastination and anxiety about writing for the first time in a while has got in the way of me posting this. I started it in summer and lead with Cab Sav because it is the ultimate easy pair with BBQ. Versatile and punchy enough to stand up to a variety of foods, it is a great staple rouge. You can expect pronounced black fruit (think blackcurrant, black cherry) and herbaceous flavours (green pepper or mint) with high acidity and tannins. It’s an excellent all-rounder, you can spend a bit of money or go for a more moderately priced bottle depending on the occasion. At this moment in time I’ve had luck with French ‘Vin De Pays’ classifications as they tend to be good quality and inexpensive. As well as pairing well with spicy BBQ, Cab Sav is great with umami and spice dishes like ramen or anything with a miso base.
Try – Cab Sav and Japanese food

Grenache / Garnacha
Is Rioja your go to wine? You’ll enjoy Grenache as something a little different. Grenache can either be a single grape wine or come as part of a blend with other grapes, as well as being red, white or rose. In Spain it is referred to as ‘Garnacha’ and everywhere else (typically France and Australia) it’s called ‘Grenache.’ Look out for it on the label. Otherwise, some well-known regions are Languedoc-Roussillon, Aragon, Rhône wine region, Maresme and Priorat. It’s typically fruit forward and tastes like strawberry, red plum and red cherry with a hint of white pepper. These flavours compliment food that bring heat, particularly curries.
Try – Grenache / Garnacha and Indian food

If you like cocktails with rose flavoured liqueurs or tonics, you’ll be a fan Gewürztraminer. Gewürztraminer is an aromatic wine that typically features floral flavours with notes of stone fruit (such as peach and apricot) and tropical fruit (lychee). It tends to be medium to low in acidity, so it is less tart than your average white wine. It pairs well with fragrant spicy food, like Thai food. I think of it as the wine equivalent of jasmine rice. It tends to be a sweeter wine, so it will stand up to a fair amount of heat.
Try – Gewürztraminer and Thai food

For those of you that enjoy white wine a bit more on the tart side and tend to drink Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño is an excellent option. It is mouthwateringly acidic with bright, clean and citrussy flavours on the palate. The freshness of Albariño is a match made in heaven with lime, crunchy veg and fresh coriander (foods like soft shell tacos or Som Tam salad). If you’re in the mood for cuisine that’s a little more comforting, Albariño cuts through the creamier spectrum of spicy (Thai green curry or Tex-Mex) as a refreshing palate cleanser between bites.
Try – Albariño and Mexican food

Tell me your favourite pairings…