Spicy Food Wine Pairing Tips

Hot Weather, Hot Food

As the temperature rises outside, we aren't backing down from the spicy food on our plates. There is no shortage of spicy food that is delicious in the summer: tacos, Thai salad, and spicy Chorizo sausage on the BBQ. A common dilemma with heat-intense meals is which wine to pair. What was once regarded as an easy "just drink sweet wine" decision, has been proven to not necessarily always be the best idea. Besides combatting the heat, we want to pair wines with food in a complimentary manner––as we would with any meal! Let's take a deeper look into which wines can handle the heat.

Keep it Cold

Cold Wine Pairing With Spicy Food

While any cold drink on its own will help counteract the heat, cold wine can be especially helpful. Why cold wine? Well, it goes without saying that getting something super chilly on your tongue will help subdue some of the effects of spicy good. The numbing effect of something very cold will give you instant––though brief––relief. Now that we know super chilled wine is the ideal partner for spicy food, we suggest sticking to White or Rosé.

Keep it Flat

White Wine With Dinner

Now that we've narrowed down the options a little to White or Rosé, we recommend not reaching for bubbly bottles. It might seem like a good idea at first and in some cases may work, however many think any sort of carbonated beverage is only going to make the spice worsen. Capsaicin (the active ingredient that makes many foods spicy) is an irritant, so by adding in a carbonated liquid, the capsaicin can move more easily and faster throughout your mouth and over your tongue. If you find a sparkling wine that works for you, that's great! But for initial tests, we recommend sticking to the traditional forms of White and Rosé.

Keep it Sweet

As we mentioned earlier, sweet wine has long been thought to be the ultimate match to battle spicy food. And that notion isn't completely wrong. It's just that there is a bit more to it. We don't recommend reaching for a Tawny Port––though technically you could––since it misses the mark on being chilled. The sweetness in certain wines is going to cut into the high heat without diminishing the flavour you're getting from your great food! It's all about picking the right bottle to crack open.

Decision Making

Now that we know what to look for in a wine when serving up plates of spicy nachos, what should you buy? Like we mentioned before, it's key to keep these 3 things in mind, but to also be thoughtful about which wine you're pairing with the food.

  • Creekside Riesling
    As Kwaf members know, Creekside is a longtime favourite winery of ours. They produce excellent wine and their 2016 Riesling is no different! Keep this wine chilly and serve up your best spicy fish tacos or Thai salad. It can take on the heat, we promise.
  • Fielding Sauvignon Blanc
    Another fantastic White from an outstanding Ontario winery. We love Fielding's 2018 Sauvignon Blanc for spicy food because it can handle being quite chilled and has a bright, refreshing finish that will be sure to cool your tastebuds. This bottle just might also be featured by Kwaf sometime this summer, so keep your eyes peeled!
  • Huff Estates All Day Rosé
    We can't shy away from including this awesome Rosé from Kwaf fave Huff Estates! This pink phenom will be a formidable opponent for any cayenne, cumin, or chipotle forward dish. If we're sold out of this popular bottle, you can also shop Huff's website

Whichever wine you end up choosing to battle your spicy meals, we wish you luck!
Remember to hydrate and add spice with discretion.


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