Wines That Stand Up to Spicy Cuisine
Thankfully, choosing a wine for any of these meals is nowhere near as complicated as the food itself. Gewürztraminer and Riesling, especially from Germany or Alsace, have long been the wines of choice for spicy food, and with good reason. Both have the acid or body to cut through the heat, the sweetness (or illusion of sweetness) to stand up to it, and the perfect flavors to intermingle with those of the food. Ginger, black pepper and sandalwood naturally pair with Gewürztraminer’s spice, while cloves, chilies and coriander mingle beautifully with the peach and apricot notes of Riesling. Sauvignon Blanc, particularly from New Zealand or Sancerre, also has enough of an acidic structure to hold up even to Vindaloo, one of the spiciest dishes of India, and its grassy and tart profile is melodious with pepper, ginger, cardamom, cumin and garlic.
There is a place for red wine on these exotic tables as well. Young, fruity reds can be inspired choices. Spanish Garnacha or Rioja goes wonderfully with dishes heavy in cloves and cinnamon. Pinot Noirs, especially those of the New World, mingle nicely with tamarind, coriander, chilies and cumin. Mustard, bay and ginger balance the fruit in young Zinfandel.
Of course, the best approach to any wine-and-food marriage is to experiment and choose what you like best. Browse Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Sancerre, Garnacha, Rioja, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel.