What to Drink With Spicy Foods: Champagne, Riesling, Pinot Noir & More

A running list of grape varietals that can bring out the full flavor of my favorite fiery food choices

As a product of Galveston, Texas, I’m convinced that my love for spicy foods is embedded within my DNA. I can remember at a very young age (let’s say, around seven or eight years old) enjoying bowls of my Granny’s gumbo with dabs of hot sauce; smoked ribs and sausage links hot off the barbeque pit courtesy of my dad in the summertime; and of course, cracking and sucking the head from many small mounds of crawfish. And as I got older, my tolerance for spice only increased. From bags of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos through middle school lunches to adding one too many jalapenos on nachos at high school football games, I couldn’t shake the need for spicy foods if I tried. 

Now that I’m old enough to enjoy wine with a meal on a regular basis, I’ve been keeping a running list of grape varietals that can bring out the full flavor of my favorite fiery food choices. From a bowl of spicy Thai noodles to a basket of buffalo wings, I’ve discovered that wine – compared to beer or other beverages – has the ability to go toe-to-toe with some of the most succulent dishes.

Hot Tip

Something to note about pairing wine with spicy foods: it’s important to be mindful of the amount of alcohol present. In food, chili heat tends to create a warming or burning sensation on our palate. The higher the level of alcohol in a wine, the more astringent (and uncomfortable) spicy food it will feel on your tongue. To avoid that, it’s important to choose wines that are light, dry, fruit-forward, and high in acidity.


Sparkling wine or Champagne  
Bubbly may not be your first choice when it comes to enjoying spicy foods, but it should definitely be a consideration moving forward. If you’re a seafood lover like me, the fizz in a Brut Champagne (which means, it will have very little sugar added) is a great option to help bring out the freshness of fish that has been elevated with spice. 
My Bottle: G.F. Duntze NV Brut Réserve (Champagne)
Dish: Spicy seafood pasta

A white wine that is naturally high in acidity and sweetness, Riesling is versatile and can accompany any meal. Because of its natural sugars, a light German Riesling — which can have notes of green apple and lime — is an ideal option to pair with spicy Thai dishes because it can provide a cooling sensation to your palate. 
My bottle: Von Buhl Armand Riesling Kabinett 2015
Dish: Massaman Curry

If you like Pinot Grigio, then you’ll totally enjoy a glass of Albarino. Hailing from northwest Spain, Albarino is the white wine of Spain. While often compared to its Italian cousin, this dry, medium-bodied, high acidic wine is crisp, refreshing, and has notes of peach and apricot that would be great for the next Taco Tuesday. 
My bottle: Bilbao Albarino 2018
Dish: Spicy Pork Carnitas 

While this French wine may be a little bit tricky to pronounce, it is one of the most fragrant white wines you’ll find, and ranges from dry to sweet. For the sake of accompanying our quest for spicy culinary satisfaction, an aromatic dry or off-dry Gewurztraminer from Alsace will have medium acidity with fruity notes of grapefruit, pineapple or peach. This will pair incredibly with the rich spices of Caribbean food. 
My bottle: Geil Gewurztraminer Kabinett
Dish: Jerk chicken 

Pinot Noir
As one of the beloved noble red grapes, Pinot Noir’s fresh red fruit flavors (think strawberry, raspberry, red cherry) allow for it to be enjoyed when it is fairly young.  Pinot Noir is a personal favorite of mine, simply because it is easy drinking and goes with almost everything. A quick suggestion when choosing a bottle: Pinot Noirs from Oregon aren’t cheap, but you are going to get your money’s worth. 
My bottle: Ken Wright Pinot Noir Willamette 2017
Dish: Dan Dan noodles

This French wine is particularly unique because it solely focuses on grapes from Beaujolais, a region that is immediately south of Burgundy. The wines produced from this region have light tannins, fresh fruit flavor, and should be served (lightly) chilled to highlight their acidity. 
My bottle: Beaujolais Nouveau
Dish: Fajitas 

Finally, another French wine (that also goes by the Spanish name, Garnacha) is another red wine that can be enjoyed chilled. Putting a little chill on a bottle of Grenache in this instance is important because unlike the other wines listed above, Grenache tends to be low in acidity and high in alcohol. The pepper spice in Grenache uniquely brings out the spice in Indian cuisine. 
My bottle: Domaine Lafage Cuvee Nicolas 2017
Dish: Chicken Chettinad

Source: What to Drink With Spicy Foods: Champagne, Riesling, Pinot Noir & More – Thrillist

Jura, the French Wine Region You’ve (Probably) Never Heard of 

For a few years now, the wines of a small pocket of France have been the toast of the sommelier and wine shop owner community. But for most, Jura means very little (and no, we’re not talking about the Scotch whisky). It’s almost as though industry types have been trying to keep the secret, safeguarding a small but delicious supply of funky French wine just for themselves

Jura rests in the north of France, between the exalted vineyards of Burgundy and the Swiss border. Expectedly, it’s a bit chillier here, and there’s a nice mix of clay soils down low and sought-after limestone soils higher up. The “jura” name comes from a Celtic word for forest and there’s even a resident mountain range sporting the name. Continue reading “Jura, the French Wine Region You’ve (Probably) Never Heard of “

US agrees to hold off tariffs on French wine

The US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron have agreed to hold the tariffs on French wine until the end of this year.

Wine cellar

Last December, the US government announced that it is planning to implement 100% tariffs on $2.4bn worth of French goods as a response to France’s digital services tax.

The tariff will be implemented on wine and other French products, such as Le Creuset Dutch ovens, Hermès handbags and Roquefort cheese, announced Trump.

US-based wine importers protest that Trump’s tariff decision on French wine will impact their livelihoods.

The digital service tax is aimed at American companies such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon (GAFA).

The French government also previously announced it will be imposing a 3% tax on the annual revenues of the US-based technological companies.

However, recent discussions between the Presidents have reportedly calmed the situation to some extent.

According to French diplomatic personnel, who addressed various media agencies, Macron and Trump have agreed to hold the tariff implementation plans and focus on continuing negotiations on digital tax at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

President Macron tweeted saying he had a ‘great discussion’ with President Trump and that the two countries would ‘work together on a good agreement to avoid tariff escalation.’

Currently, a 25% tariff has been implemented by the US government on French wine due to Airbus trade dispute.

Source: US agrees to hold off tariffs on French wine

My Totally Racous, Très French, Super Wine-Soaked Weekend in the Loire

At an epic gathering of natural winemakers in France’s verdant river valley, I slurped oysters and downed magnums and got a sense of what makes this community, and its wine, so special.

Let’s get one thing straight: I know very little about wine. I drink a lot of it,
sure—the natural stuff more specifically, which as far as I understand it is a loose, poorly defined term that more or less refers to wine made by small producers without the addition of weird chemicals and with the addition of eye-catching labels. But compared with the friends and sommeliers whose oenological ramblings I excitedly nod along to, I often feel like a poseur. I know my way around a wine list, but at the end of the day, I’m a sucker for bottle art. I will always order the hypebeast wine I recognize from Instagram. I use the word funky too often. My wife, Lauren, and I went to a hip wine fair once and bought a poster we had seen in hip wine bars and hip wine stores because we thought it looked cool, not because we knew anything about “Catherine et Pierre Breton,” the French winemakers whose names were scrawled across the bottom. It hangs above our dining room table, and when we’re having our Wine Friends over, I’m always nervous someone will ask me about it, the same way 13-year-old me prayed older kids wouldn’t see my Sex Pistols T-shirt and ask questions about a song that wasn’t on the greatest hits album.

Continue reading “My Totally Racous, Très French, Super Wine-Soaked Weekend in the Loire”