Don’t feel bottled in by the notion that spicy food only pairs with beer. While you may think it’s near impossible to find a white or red wine to drink with that beef vindaloo you’ve just ordered, here’s some sage spice advice.
Whites with a bit of sweetness such as Riesling or Chenin Blanc are ideal to cool down the scorches of a chili-laden curry or Szechuan beef, much like a sweet mango lassi quenching spicy samosas or a frozen margarita taming the heat of a piquant salsa. White wine with spice is a good choice except when the wine is excessively oaky, as with some Chardonnay, or has relatively high alcohol content, as in many Gewürtztraminer.
For those who prefer reds, there is magic to behold when you choose a lighter-bodied, amply fruity, low-tannin red such as Beaujolais, or even a Pinot Noir. When chilled and willing, these lighter reds can provide just as much relief as any of the firefighting whites. Avoid tannic, gum-drying reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah as they can intensify the sensations of heat in your mouth.
Rosé is a perfect match for a Thai red curry, or basil and chili chicken, with comparable powers of refreshment as a Beaujolais.
And one of my all-time favorite choices is bubbly (throughout the entire meal). With its coldness and restrained alcohol content, a bottle of Prosecco or Cremant is a spritely and soothing addition to any spicy meal.
For a full list of wines to pair with spicy food, check out my book, How to Drink Like a Billionaire (Regan Arts).
In some circles, artichokes or salad dressing with wine are taboo…I proudly defy this social construct.
You may have been told that artichokes or a freshly dressed salad are infamous wine killers because they make wines taste sweeter. But they’re wrong. I find that these two foods can pleasantly transform a too-dry everyday wine into a delicious meal companion.
An artichoke won’t Jekyll-and-Hyde your bottle of Sauvignon Blanc into Hawaiian Punch, but it will make the dry Sauvignon Blanc seem less tart and more fruity. This happens because artichokes contain a compound called cynarin which tends to make everything, including water, sweeter.
Salad dressing, on the other hand, doesn’t make wine appear sweeter because of any mysterious chemical, but because acidic food subdues acidic wine. Comprised of vinegar, garlic, lemon juice, and other substances that keep the Alka-Seltzer factory fizzing, salad dressing is among the most sour food we eat.
Of course, you might have trouble fully appreciating a delicately balanced mature Burgundy with an endive vinaigrette. But I certainly won’t confiscate your corkscrew if you drink a simple, crisp wine with your dressed-up greens, and I believe that you’ll find the tart dressing is the perfect antidote to an overly dry wine. A very tangy wine like a Sauvignon Blanc or Chianti might very well taste better with an artichoke’s sweetening effects.
So, the next time you hesitate before trying these so-called wine killers with a bottle of wine, rethink the vegetable hate and try this unconventional pairing for yourself.
For hundreds more fresh, fascinating wine tips, get yourself a copy of my just-released book, How To Drink Like a Billionaire, today.
Whether it’s a concert, a matinee, or in the cab on the way, the art of the smuggle is a necessary skill, and one I learned during a stay at one of the world’s most serious spas. Canyon Ranch in Massachusetts bans alcohol in the dining room, which seems to me an almost cruel policy for what was meant to be a relaxing weekend. Isn’t wine the secret to why all those centenarians on the Italian island of Sardinia live so long?
To rectify matters, I spirited into the spa several bottles of wine, which are allowed only in guest rooms. Using a small funnel, I then transferred the wine into a rinsed-out Tetra Pak for juice or coconut water. This cardboard vessel was perfect for smuggling wine at dinner, not only for its opacity but also for its incredible ability to hold two-thirds of a standard wine bottle. Its aluminum shell helped keep the wine chilled, and the “grape berry” label was the perfect cover in case any of the red wine spilled out.
Tetra Paks are effective for their size and eco-friendliness, but feel free to perform your covert wine operations with shampoo bottles, or for a classic ruse, a tinted plastic soda bottle. You can buy these, as I do, online and in bulk, in case my guests want to enjoy their last precious drops of wine on the way out of my place.
Check out the video of my covert wine smuggling activities here, and tweet @MarkOldman your favorite bootlegging vessels.
Learn hundreds more wine secrets and strategies in my new book, How to Drink Like a Billionaire: Mastering Wine with Joie de Vivre (Regan Arts/Phaidon).