Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wine, Beer, and Spicy Food

I found this good article in the New York Times about pairing wine with spicy food. Spicy food is a tricky pairing and as the article points out people usually go with beer, hence the short wine lists usually found at Thai or Indian restaurants. I prefer white wines with spicy foods, especially whites with a bit of sweetness to them. Off-dry or semi-sweet Rieslings are a great choice, or Chenin Blancs done in a sweet style. Wines with a bit of sweetness go very well with these foods because the food also tends to be salty, and sweet and salty go very well together, like popcorn and soda. You also want your wines to be low in alcohol. I don't really get the red choices in the article. If I went with a red I would do a Beaujolais, made from the Gamay grape. Those wines are light, fruity, and pair really well with food.

Truth be told I usually go with beer with spicy food. It's just a more natural pairing (although I prefer wine with food in general). I have heard it said many times that hoppy beers go well with spicy food, but I have never found this to work. The hops in the beer and the spice in the food seem to compete for your attention. I like beers with some malty sweetness, like a Czech Pilsner for lighter stuff or a Belgian Tripel for more robust dishes.

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