what works well with spicy food? I prefer beer with spicy food, but sometimes we prefer to drink wine.. any suggestions?
Answer From Expert Roger Bohmrich MW
You are talking to the right person! I frequently cook spicy food and eat out at Thai and Indian restaurants. The book I am compiling features many preparations with hot peppers along with wine pairing ideas. I have to say that, with the very hottest dishes, I do drink beer. But if the heat is less than incendiary, many wines make decent partners.
With seafood or light white meat dishes with hot peppers, I would suggest entry-level Alsace Gewurztraminer (not Grand Cru) or Riesling Spatlese (the off-dry, not the dry or "trocken" version, as the delicate sweetness is a taming factor). Richer whites, such as those based on Rhone varieties like Marsanne, can work with some dishes of this type. I have also drunk New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc (which is generally richer than those from the Loire) with Thai squid with basil and hot green chilis, or with the famous Thai hot and sour seafood soup (Tom Yum Goong).
With heavier, richer red meat-based dishes, you might try generous and soft Rhone reds, particularly Grenache-based ones (a Cotes du Rhone, for example). Zinfandel can be successful, or Australian Shiraz. Try not to pick ones with 15% alcohol, which only reinforces the peppers.
By all means, save your finest, most complex wines for non-spicy food!