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Wine Pairings With Spicy Food

Few things are more satisfying than finding the perfect wine pairing that takes your dish to the next level. It gets a bit tricker when it comes to matching wine with spicy cuisine. 

Today, we’re tackling some core guidelines for matching wine with spice and giving you a few popular examples of some of the best spicy food and wine pairings. 

Wine Pairings With Spicy Food Infographic

Best Wine for Spicy Food

If you’ve ever had a spoonful of honey after eating something spicy, the same logic applies here. This is why off-dry wines with slight sweetness are often the best choices for curbing the effects of your spicy dish. Wines with even just a tad more residual sugar left after fermentation are perfect for balancing the effects of spice. 

An aromatic white wine like German Riesling, with lemon, pineapple, apricot, and stone fruit notes, is a popular choice for many hot foods. Lower-alcohol wines are also favored as they are easier to sip more of to quench your thirst. Serving this at a cold temperature is ideal, as the icy chill mixed with the bright, slightly acidic wine becomes that much more thirst-quenching. 

If your spicy dish has a fried or fatty component like fried chicken, calamari, or Korean pork, sparkling wines will cut through the fat with acidity, while the bubbles are perfect for balancing spice on the palate. 

As always, there are a few exceptions to the rule, and the perfect spicy food pairing will depend on the dish’s ingredients. 

Below are the best wine pairings for four popular spicy cuisine categories. 

  1. 1. Best Wine to Serve With Chicken Curry

Depending on the spice level in your chicken curry, you will either want a dry wine or something sweeter. Off-dry to sweet German wines like Riesling and Gewürztraminer, with their grapefruit, rose, and lychee notes, are a great choice for curry.

If you have a green curry, try something with more lemon and grassy notes, like a dry Riesling or New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. 

Other options like Rosé and Prosecco are just the zesty, light-bodied, and acidic wines that will pair nicely with any spicy curry dish. 

Spicy curry dish

  1. 2. Best Wine With Thai Food

Thai dishes are delicious and complex, with a seemingly endless array of flavors ranging from spicy to sweet to sour to salty. Hands down, a cold German Riesling is the best overall option for spicy Thai food. 

If your dish packs an extra spicy punch, turn up the sweetness with Moscato d’asti boasting stone fruit, orange blossom, and honeysuckle notes.

Other bright and aromatic alternatives for Thai food and wine pairing include Pinot Gris, sparkling Rosé, Prosecco, and Grüner Veltliner are wonderful for their zesty, juicy, and semi-sweet flavor.

Thai shrimp dish

  1. 3. Best Wine With Chili

Light lagers and sweeter ciders with spicy chili are often the most ideal pairing. However, when it comes to wine, Riesling is still an easy choice. A crisp Chenin Blanc will also make for a palate-pleasing pairing. But if your chili is more robust with heavy meat, a light-bodied, low-tannin red wine like Pinot Noir could be the match made in heaven you’re looking for.

Grab your cornbread and a light-bodied wine, either red or white, and savor the sweet pairing at your next chili cookout. 

Bowl of spicy chili

  1. 4. Best Wine With BBQ

When it comes to spicy barbecue, choosing a red wine with jammy flavors and fruit-forward notes is an easy pick. Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Zinfandel, and even a bolder red like Shiraz could all be excellent pairings for hot and spicy barbecue meat. Just make sure to be careful if your red has a higher alcohol content. But usually, in these cases, the jam-like characteristics of the wine can bring more balance to wines with higher ABV, making things a little smoother for spicy and fatty meat. 

Plate of barbecue ribs

Get Creative With Spicy Food and Wine Pairing

When you ask wine experts about pairing wine with spicy food, they will often advise you to sip crisp wines with a lower ABV and slight sweetness to counteract the heat. As you can see, there are a few exceptions, as sometimes you can pair a low-tannin, light-bodied, jammy red wine with hearty meats packed with spice. 

It’s all about balance and trying new things while using the foundational principles to guide you as you gain further experience in the complex yet fun world of food and wine pairing. 

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