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Mar 26, 2015
Spice Up Your Meals
Pairing wine with spicy foods from around the world.


Just about every type of cuisine can be paired with the right wine. All that’s required are a couple of ground rules to easily pair wine with everything from Masala Dosa and delicate toro to chile-infused dishes. Here are some of the rules we live by:

1) Make a Match of Equals

The first classic wine pairing approach is to pair delicate food flavors with elegant wines that won’t overwhelm them. For example: Champagne with hamachi sashimi. Strong flavors like cheese or chocolate need strong flavored wines such as (respectively) Sauternes or Port.

2) Sweet Tackles Spice

Off-dry wines, like some German rieslings or some Vouvrays from the Loire Valley will make the spice in your food sing. Thai soups, fresh green papaya salads and caramelized dishes will all pair beautifully when there’s a hint of residual sugar in the wine.

3) Lighter Bodied, Earthy Reds Work with a Range of Dishes

Elegant, low-alcohol red wines like cabernet franc (we love Bernard Baudry’s Chinon from the Loire Valley) and pinot noirs from Oregon—and elsewhere—will make the flavors of Vietnamese savory beef dishes sing. They can also stand up to Korean BBQ of all kinds and a range of meaty curries. They are also great go-to-wines for kebabs, tajines and Mexican dishes like pozole.

4) Bubbles Work with Just About Everything

Sparkling wines—such as Gruet’s fantastic value bubbly made in New Mexico—can stand up and complement almost any dish. A sparkler’s acidity can take on the citrus in ceviche, lemon-infused Turkish salads and the most delicate pieces of sashimi. It also works with pho, dishes like Chicken Tikak and even slow-cooked Korean stews and kimchi-laden soups.

What is your favorite ethnic food and wine pairing? Tell us below.

Photo by Chloe Lim, "Korean Spicy Noodles with fried Dumplings"

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