Some Like it Hot! Summertime & Spice

Hot Summertime in Texas 

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
of food:

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
asking …

”What wine can I really enjoy with spicy dishes”.

That\'s a Spitzie, Spicy a-Pepper!

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.

Blush & Rose Wines.....Goooood!

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.



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  1. Hill Country a bountiful wine region
    Award-winning wineries attracting increase in tourism.

    The Texas Hill County is toasting its wine.

    The wineries west of Austin are winning gold medals in international competition, building a national reputation and proving they can compete with the best of California and the other wine-making regions of the United States.

    And with that acclaim, more people are visiting the Hill Country to see what all the hype is about.

    Only California’s Napa Valley, the most famous of the American wine areas, is experiencing a bigger growth in tourism, according to a recent analysis by Orbitz.

    The Texas Hill Country, an area that includes Marble Falls, Dripping Springs and Fredericksburg, is No. 2 nationally in the growth of tourism based on the increase in bookings to wine areas through the travel Web site between 2005 and 2007. You’ll find a sampling of distinct styles and philosophies being cultivated in the vineyards.

    Some vintners are opting to produce classic wines, the cabernet sauvignons, chardonnays and merlots that are at the heart of the French experience and that have a proven market in Texas and beyond. Others are experimenting — with great success — with the warm-weather grapes of Spain and Italy, such as the tempranillo and sangiovese, and are building a following for those wines.

    So does Texas’ future hold hot-weather grapes or the more classic varietals? Regardless of the kind of wine that is being made, there’s one argument no one will have: the quality of the wines being produced in the Hill Country.

    With each passing year, the vintners are exhibiting increased skill at putting their terroir — the representation of their land and microclimates — in the bottle, giving more visitors reason to trek through the area to taste what the Hill Country has to offer.

    If you go …

    Some wineries offer more than tasting rooms. Some have gift shops; some also are bed-and-breakfast inns and offer special events. Check for information about Texas wineries. You can find a map and schedule of events for the Hill Country at

    Hill Country a bountiful wine region
    Award-winning wineries attracting increase in tourism.
    AMERICAN-STATESMAN Sunday, May 18, 2008
    By Dale Rice

  2. For passing the time in the Summer sun or pairing with hot and spicy food, I have found that the wines from Messina Hof work fine for me (some of my favs below:

    Muscat Canelli
    Messina Hof’s Muscat Canelli is an excitingly fragrant and fruity wine. It pairs particularly well with seafood, spicy cuisine, pasta, low-fat dishes, and German and oriental food.

    Gewürztraminer (The G-Wine)
    This grape of Germany and Alsace is spicy, floral and very aromatic. Finished in a sweet style, the wine complements seafood, poultry and spicy entrees.

    Johannisberg Riesling is fresh and delicate with floral aromas. It brings out the flavors of spicy, German and Asian dishes, Cajun or blackened seafood and low-fat cuisine.

    Chenin Blanc,
    This wine is slightly sweet and very fruity with floral aromas. It’s particularly flavorful with Cajun or blackened seafood, strong-flavored cheeses and low-fat dishes.

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