There is one thing that can generally be said
about Texans (both native and those that have
spent enough time and effort here to become
naturalized). They generally like BOTH types
Hot and Spicy.
These culinary delights can take many forms from
BBQ to Tex-Mex. Nowadays, in Texas these favorite
flavorsome foods may even include a wide array of
Pan-Asian delicacies as well.
Many years ago, there was a simple answer for this
situation…..Beer, and lots of it! But increasingly,
probably with the advent of reality TV, people
are becoming more libaciously adventurous and
”What wine can I really enjoy with spicy dishes”.
Personally being of the persuasion and fortitude
to indulge in the piquant, I have explored these
territories with gustatory abandon. Consequently,
I have found a few simple and useful approaches
that can be used to maximize the pleasure of the
First, stay away from tannic red and white wines.
This precludes many those much loved Cabernet
Sauvignons and Big-Ass Chardonnays that do so much
for Haute French cuisine and, in an even bigger
form (e.g. more oak, tannins and alcohol) work
well with the local fare in California.
REMEMBER…..with the hot and spicy, these wines
combine to make even more heat!
Secondly, find wines that QUENCH!
By and large, these are the wines that tend to be
lower in alcohol, tannin and oak., which really
makes this advice a corollary of the first rule.
Examples of white wines that fulfill the above
criteria are a zippy, New Zealand-style Sauvignon
Blanc and, one of my personal little known favorites,
Albarino from Spain. These wines go with lighter
dishes, mostly fish or fowl.
For heartier preparations, dry wines rich in fruit
flavors and light on the oak such as Beaujolais and
fruit-forward Merlots are wonderful with BBQ chicken,
links and ribs. Don’t forget Syrah, especially
the big-fruit, Shiraz-style made so popular by the
Third, get comfortable with wines with a little
Nothing goes better with the hot and zesty than a
wine with a sweetness gained from a couple percent
residual sugar. German-style white wines like
Riesling and Gewürztraminer are a
safe haven in this regard, especially for dousing the
fiery heat of Asian or Indian cuisine.
SIDE-NOTE: If you have problems remembering the 14
lettered, “unloutted” German style wine mentioned above,
just ask for it as the “G” wine. If they have it, they’ll
know what you are talking about.
Also, if you can keep a secret…”Blush wine ain’t so bad
either”. Some easy drinking, food friendly Rośes are
available that combine excellent fruit, a little
sweetness, balanced with brisk acidity. Dry Rośes
which have been the perenial summertime favorite with
Europeans, are now becoming more popular in the
Southern USA and are more available in wine shops.
Forth, Don’t forget the frontal attack –
Use Spice with Spice.
Some wines have a natural spiciness and, as long as
they carry good fruit favors and do not have too
much alcohol and tannin (Rules 1 and 2), they can
work wonders with sizzling Texas cuisine.
Examples include, reds like the previously mentioned,
big-fruit-forward style Shiraz or a lusious down-home
(Made-in-the-USA) Zinfandel. These are two of the
best wines to combine with all the myriad types of
BBQ that I can think of. They have a blend of
richness, spiciness and smokiness obtained from
their varietal character and light oak aging that
pairs well with spicy meat rubs, tomato-based BBQ
sauces and smoked meats.
Fifth, Bring out the Bubbles.
Spanish Cavas and Italian Proseccos are simple,
value-oriented sparkling white wines. For a
combination of effervescence with good fruit and
try a pink Champagne for a fun food and wine
Last but not least, if you are really adventurous,
the Australians are starting to export SPARKLING
RED WINES (Yes – you heard me right!) made from
Shiraz or a blend of red varietals. This type of
sparkling red can hold its own with the best
brisket you can find.
Sixth, Don’t overlook Fruit Wines.
These wine, if made well, have most of the
components, I have dicussed above – fruit-forward,
low- or no-oak, pleasing sweetness, and some even
have a bit of refreshing carbonation.
Some of My Texas, Summertime Wine Favs….
Becker (Dry) Rose 2007
Bruno & George Arapaho Blackberry Wine
Grape Creek Muscat Canelli – Double Gold Medal Winner
Haak Blanc du Bois (Semi-Sweet; Blue Lable)
Llano Estacado Shiraz 2006
McPherson Cellars Viognier 2006 – Bring on the Asian Cuisine
Remember, in the words of John Muir, “To discover
new continents, you have to willing to loose sight
of the shore.”
You know something….the same holds true for wine.