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Wine Pairings for Spicy Foods

Photo: Randy Mayor

Styling: Cindy Barr

Looking for something refreshing to help cool the flames?

Let three simple strategies guide your selections for wines that work with four fiery, flavorful dishes. First, consider sparkling wine; the bubbles help refresh and cleanse the palate. (That's why beer is often a spicy-food standby beverage.) Not in the mood for fizz? Then opt for something sweet. Just as soda can counter spice, an off-dry riesling offers a similarly soothing touch of sweetness—with much less sugar. Finally, avoid wines that are high in alcohol or tannins, which only serve to fan the flames. Fruity whites and reds, with modest alcohol, make thirst-quenching and delicious partners for chile heat.

Curry Chicken
The Argentine white grape torrontés produces aromatic wines that are dry but quaffable with spicy Asian cuisine.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo
Bubbles help beat the heat. "Extra dry" indicates more sweetness than "brut."

Lamb Vindaloo 
Lamb prefers red wines. Serve these lighter-bodied, low-tannin reds slightly chilled.

Jerk Pork
Riesling is a classic match with pork dishes; these wine selections are also a perfect complement to sweet-spicy jerk seasoning.