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In Good Taste

Wine Pairings With Spicy Foods

Wine Pairings With Spicy Foods

You Bring the Heat, We’ll Bring the Wine!

 

Wine and food are one of those quintessential, match-made-in-heaven experiences. Any good dish can be elevated into something truly exceptional when paired with the right glass of wine. We all know of a few cuisines that become something really special with delicious wine – charcuterie, pizza, pasta, and savory steak are some top contenders that may come to mind. Our mouths are watering already just thinking about it!

While it’s fairly simple for the casual wine hobbyist to pair wine with those tried-and-true cuisines, it may be more difficult to find wines that pair with unconventional wine dishes – specifically those that are bold and spicy. However, this doesn’t mean that it won’t be any less of a delicious experience! Today, we’re going against the grain to explore some overlooked food and wine pairings. Spicy food lovers, rejoice because we’re about to explore wine pairings with some of your favorite spicy cuisines from around the world, and we’ll even talk about spicing up the wine itself!

Pairing Spicy Foods with Wine

Pair Your Favorite Spicy Cuisines with Wine

Typically, when we think of spicy dishes, we think of cuisines from countries around the world that are usually outside of the traditional wine-producing regions. These nations are better known for dishes that showcase an avalanche of bold, spicy flavors, making wine pairing a challenging, yet fun task. This is one instance where we’re throwing the old saying “if it grows together, it goes together” out the window. Spicy dishes call for an unconventional pairing approach, so we’re breaking the rules. How rebellious! 

That being said, we’ve got quite a few countries to visit today, so let’s get to it! 

Indian Food with Wine

Indian

There’s nothing quite like the bold, unapologetic nature of a delicious Indian dish. These cuisines are characterized by strong, spicy flavors that typically take the starring role in a dish. You can expect to encounter curries, chutneys, a healthy dose of heat, and a heavy emphasis on spices in good Indian food. 

The best wines to pair with these dishes are wines that are simple, straightforward, and that balance the spices and complexity of Indian cuisine. It’s also a good idea to keep the ABV low, as a wine with high alcohol content can enhance the perception of spice and take away from the flavors in the dish. German Riesling, Prosecco, and Rosé are all excellent pairing options to reach for to complement your Indian dish. Their low ABV, light body and acidic, zesty notes make them all food-friendly options that will bring out the best qualities of a flavor-forward Indian cuisine. 

Ethiopian Foods and Wine

Ethiopian

The next cuisine on our list takes us to the Horn of Africa, to the country of Ethiopia. Ethiopian food consists of highly seasoned meats and vegetables that are known to bring heat. Much of this cuisine is enjoyed in Ethiopia with a honey wine called tej, which is similar to mead. That being said, mead is an excellent pairing choice with Ethiopian dishes, as its sweet, cold nature balances well with the intense spices of the food. 

If mead isn’t really your thing, there are other options! Experts say that earthy wines also pair nicely with the bold flavors of Ethiopian food. Some good examples include Californian Zinfandel, Australian Shiraz, and Pinot Noir

Mexican Food with Wine

Mexican

Typically, Mexican food is enjoyed with a crisp Mexican lager or a tequila-based beverage like margaritas. It’s no secret why – these beverages are absolutely delicious with tacos and guac! However, don’t overlook the wine pairing possibilities with your favorite Mexican dishes. There are some truly mouthwatering matches out there that you must try!

In general, a good rule of thumb to keep in mind when pairing food and wine is to think of the wine itself as an ingredient. It’s also helpful to consider the spice level of your cuisine – the spicier the food, the colder and sweeter your wine should be to balance the flavors. 

If you’ve got a tortilla-based dish on the menu such as tacos, sopes, or burritos, reach for a dry rosé or Lambrusco as the perfect pairing. For cuisines with a heavy helping of queso or cheese, balance the heaviness of the dish with an earthy Tempranillo or Pinot Noir. Pork dishes such as el pastor and carnitas are enhanced perfectly with a sparkling rosé, and guacamole is taken to another level when paired with Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris

Korean Food with Wine

Korean 

Korean cuisine is notoriously difficult to pair with wine. These dishes hit almost every flavor profile, including savory, sweetness, spiciness, and saltiness. But, just because Korean dishes are difficult to pair, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, and we’ve got some delicious ideas for you to try the next time you get Korean food!

There’s no shortage of spice in Korean dishes. To complement the heat in these dishes, reach for a bright, acidic wine like Sauvignon Blanc. Similar wines also pair beautifully with dishes that feature seafood. However, if you’re enjoying a heartier dish like Korean barbeque, try a simple, red table wine such as Chianti. In general, you’ll want to avoid wines that are too bold or tannic like a Malbec or California Cab, as they can clash with the sheer amount of flavor in Korean cuisine.

Thai Food with Wine

Thai

Next up on our list of spicy cuisine, we’ve got mouthwatering Thai food! This is yet another cuisine where you can expect a complex array of flavors in one dish – spicy, sweet, salty, sour, it’s all there. Finding a wine that can seamlessly balance all of these flavors at once is no easy task, but many sommeliers agree that there is one wine that rises above the rest as a delicious option to pair with Thai food – and that is German Riesling. Riesling reigns supreme for its sweet profile and cool serving temperature, which balances the bold, impactful flavors that are present in Thai dishes.

If German Riesling isn’t readily available as an option, other tasty alternatives to consider are Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, sparkling Rosé, or Grüner Veltliner. 

Japenese Food with Wine

Japanese

Traditionally, many Japanese dishes are enjoyed with sake, which is an alcoholic beverage made of fermented rice and can be served either cold or warm. However, other drinks are becoming increasingly common to enjoy with Japanese cuisine. Sushi and poke bowls pair deliciously with Grüner Veltliner, and shoyu ramen goes exceptionally well with an earthy, light- to medium-bodied pinot noir

For just about any Japanese cuisine, you can’t go wrong when pairing these dishes with a food-friendly sparkling wine such as prosecco, dry sparkling rosé, or even champagne

Okay, so we’ve talked at length about which wines pair best with spice. Now, let’s take a look at something even more unconventional, putting the spice in your glass of wine!

Rose or White Wine with added Jalapenos

Jalapeño Rosé

Yes, you read that correctly – Jalapeño Rosé! Adding jalapeños to Rosé is no new trick, but this trend has seen a recent resurgence thanks to TikTok user @allyssainthekitchen, who showed her followers that by simply adding a few slices of fresh jalapeńo to your favorite glass of rosé, you can add an easy, zesty kick to the refreshing taste of a summery blush. The jalapeńo enhances the crisp notes of rosé with an extra bit of spice, and the flavors work together surprisingly well! Don’t knock it ‘til you try it – if you love a little bit of heat in your favorite dishes, then this is a trick that you absolutely need to try! See this twist from Instagram user @togetherwinewine of pairing a dry Sauvignon Blanc and fresh slices of jalapeños.

TikTok Trend - Jalapenos and Rose Wine

Well, now that we’ve traveled around the world to discover these spicy wine pairings, do you think you can handle the heat? Food and wine are just meant to be enjoyed together, so why limit yourself to the typical wine-friendly foods? There’s a whole world of cuisine out there that’s just waiting to be paired with the perfect wine, so don’t be afraid to bend the rules and try them out!

Rosé of Sangiovese

Andiamo

Sangiovese can be found in both the Chianti and Montalcino regions of Tuscany (it all sounds so romantic, right?) and is known for producing classic medium-bodied wines. Rosé wine is actually made from red grapes, and this is where the Rosé of Sangiovese comes to play. Crisp, fruit-forward, and easy-to-drink, it's everything you want in your bottle of Rosé and more.

$19.99

Montepulciano

Andiamo

Big, bold, and full of flavor—exactly what you’d expect an Italian wine to be! This classic Italian grape produces some of Italy’s most straightforward red wines and is often used as a blending grape. Not here, though. We let Montepulciano do the heavy lifting as a heavy red wine and shine on its own. If you enjoy the smell of leather bound books, nibbling on dried fruit, and complementary notes of bitter, dark chocolate and sweet plums, you will love this Italian wine. No need to pair it with any certain dish—Montepulciano tastes great with all the Italian classics.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Unprecedented

If Pinot Noir is the light and juicy queen of reds, Cabernet Sauvignon is her bolder, heavier, meatier sister. Often referred to as just “cab,” it’s the wine of France’s Bordeaux and California’s Napa Valley. There’s nothing subtle about Cabernet Sauvignon—high in alcohol, full-bodied and robust, you can usually find this red served with a ribeye, New York Strip, or filet mignon (re: carnivores love cab). Classic cabs usually offer tasting notes of chocolate, coffee, and darker fruits like prunes and plums. The Unprecedented Cabernet Sauvignon is as classic as they come, and we highly recommend letting the bottle sit and mellow until your next red meat and potatoes dinner!

Pinot Grigio

La Pluma

If you’re looking for more zest in your life, a bottle of Pinot Grigio can provide that. We included a classic Pinot Grigio in the La Pluma collection because we’re all about light and easy here, which is exactly what this grape from Italy is. It has that dry sense of humor that seems so effortless with a punchy acidity to keep you on your toes, all while offering notes of lemon, limes, green apples, and honeysuckle. Long story short; when it’s been a heavy day and your soul is seeking light things only, you’ll be happy to have this bottle on hand.

Pinot Noir

Unprecedented

We couldn’t create the In Good Taste Unprecedented collection without the Golden Retriever of wines: Pinot Noir. Pinot is likable, it’s easy, and its natural state of being is simply charming. It’s an incredibly easy red wine to love, which is why so many people do. The grape itself is from the Burgundy region of France, but has made its way to California, Oregon, Australia, Italy, Argentina, and Germany since. Our Pinot Noir has no surprise twists—it’s a classic light red with just the right amount of sweetness to keep you coming back for another glass (or two).

Coteaux Bourguignons

Passport

The Burgundy region of France is home to their best Pinot Noirs, but we took the grapes into our own hands to create something extra special with our Coteaux Bourguignons. It’s a blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay, which results in a French red that’s light in body but full in flavor. The ripest blueberries and freshest herbs can be easily detected in this French burgundy blend. May we suggest pairing it with some creamy brie and freshly baked bread? It’s a oui-ning combo.

$25.99

Verdicchio

Andiamo

A little sweet. A little tart. A little salty? You truly get it all with this white Italian wine. If you're into that biting acidity, Verdicchio will probably be high on your list of most-loved wines from our Andiamo collection. Citrus fruits like mandarin, lemon, and grapefruit are at the forefront, but what really sets this Italian wine apart is its distinct notes of almond. While our Verdicchio can start out tasting a bit tart, the more you sip, the smoother it becomes. In fact, we suggest approaching it as an aperitif (Italian for an alcoholic drink sipped before a meal to stimulate the appetite) to experience its full effect.

$23.99

Côtes du Rhône White

Passport

This was one of our first French wines to join the Passport collection and one sip will explain why. Some background on the Rhône Valley in France: While this region is known for its dark, juicy reds, a very small amount of special white wines are made in the Rhône Valley. Our Côtes du Rhône is packed with French-perfected, floral flavor and Old-World charm. Its natural tang paired with the weighty Marsanne grape and aromatic Roussanne grape results in a crisp, savory sip that’ll transport you to a sunbathing chair by the Rhône itself.

$23.99

Bordeaux Rouge

Passport

When you picture medieval folk sitting around a feast with goblets of wine, chances are they were drinking Bordeaux. This wine has been made in France since forever and is arguably the most classic French wine out there. Bordeaux is known for its full body, smoky notes, and rich, oaky taste. If you love cabs, chances are you will adore Bordeaux. For our Passport wines, we had to include this classic French red for you to sip and enjoy to your heart’s content. Best savored over a rich meal like lamb ragu, ratatouille, or BBQ.

$21.99

Ventoux Rosé

Passport

You probably know that the Tour de France is held on Ventoux Mountain in France, but did you know that the same area is known for its high-altitude rosé? This is the kind of quintessential French rosé that you don’t need to spin your wheels over—it’s simply delicious, crisp, and perfect for warm weather. Despite its delicate, pale pink color, each sip is lush with flavor, from tropical passionfruit and zesty citrus to refreshing melon. This has the potential to be your new summer go-to, so we’d suggest stocking up.

$21.99

Tempranillo

Wild Child

Say “¡Hola!” to Spain’s main grape: Tempranillo. This red grape put Rioja wine on the map and is un vino tinto classico. It’s best compared to a classic cab, but with a bit more unique magic that’s hard to put your finger on, which is why it’s a part of our Wild Child line. This medium- to full-bodied wine with its relatively higher tannins usually offers complex notes of cherry, fig, cedar, tobacco, and dill. This is the type of red wine you want to buy and pour for a Latin-infused meal; think carne asada, tacos al carbon, or just perfectly cooked steak fajita meat.

Grenache

La Pluma

We knew the only red in the La Pluma collection had to be exceptionally good and exceptionally light. That’s why including a Grenache was a no-brainer. If smooth, fruit-forward, light-bodied reds appeal to your tastebuds, this could be your new favorite. The grape itself is tricky; depending on the climate of where its grown, Grenache wines could be light, dense, or somewhere in the middle. La Pluma’s version has all the airiness and flavor notes we wanted in our Grenache, which is how we know you’ll love it. Get the most of this red by pairing it with roasted meats, spice-heavy vegetables, and Mexican-inspired dishes with lots of cumin.

$27.99

Moscato

Andiamo

This grape goes by different names in most European countries, but what remains the same is its fruity floral nature. Delicate in every way and extremely quaffable, this wine is as dainty as they come.

Barbera

Andiamo

We really try not to play favorites at In Good Taste, but there is just something about an Italian Barbera that hits different in the best way. Barberas are the perfect wine for pizza night; they're low in alcohol, and medium-bodied but taste super light, and their berry and plum flavors pair incredibly well with savory tomato sauce and cheese! Another fun thing about Barberas? They actually taste great when chilled, which is not something we're in the habit of suggesting for our red wines. Our Italian Barbera lies somewhere between the body of a cab and a pinot and is the ideal choice for a "ladies who lunch" kind of afternoon.

Vermentino

Wild Child

We couldn't not have a weird white in the mix, right?! The Vermentino grape is native along the coast of Italy on the island of Sardinia (yeah, like the fish). Because of its origin, this grape offers a salty, crisp flavor that's incredibly easy to drink and enjoy. We say it's "weird" only because it's not widely known by name, but chances are you've probably had it before if you've ever ordered white wine in an Italian restaurant. If you love peaches and lemons and get a kick out of anything that reminds you of the sea, our Vermentino is the perfect Italian white to experience on a sunny day outside.

$23.99

Viognier

Unprecedented

For the Chardonnay lovers who are looking to dig a bit deeper in the world of bold whites, a Viognier (pronounced vee-own-yay) could be your next big adventure. Viogniers tend to have more range; while they can be creamy with hints of vanilla like their Chardonnay counterpart, they also offer lighter, fruitier flavors like tangerine, mango, and honeysuckle. It’s still a more full-bodied white wine, but unlike Chardonnay, it’s softer on acidity and more perfumed. Spend an afternoon with a glass of Viognier amongst the flowers and it’ll all make sense.

$24.99

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