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matching alcohol with spicy foods?

this is a difficult topic to search, but i couldn't turn up anything, so: what spirits, wines, or beers do you hounds quaff with spicy food?

for example, i've read that rieslings are recommended. true? false? other ideas?

for what it's worth, the cuisine in question is szechuan, but broader responses are welcome!

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  1. I don't know if you'd have better luck on the booze-specific boards, but here are my thoughts: sweeter wines like rieslings and gewurtztraminers are traditionally recommended. But. Belgian beers (sour ales, saisons, and old-style lambics especially, but also ordinary witbiers) work really well with both spicy and rich foods, IME. So do sparkling wines, particularly those of the reliable and inexpensive cava and prosecco types! :) Not being much of a fan of sweeter wines (or of fruity wines generally), and having neither the budget nor much of an inclination to explore more sophisticated rieslings and the like, I am much quicker to turn to a saison or a prosecco when faced with a tough-to-pair food.

    1. One of the best wines with spicy foods are Rieslings. not the cheap sweet ones . Good German /Alsace Rieslings.

      Here are some under 25
      Weingut St. Urbans-Hof
      2007 Ockfener Bockstein Riesling Kabinett
      Mosel, Germany

      Helfrich
      2007 Riesling, Grand Cru, Steinklotz
      Alsace, France

      Trefethen
      2005 Dry Riesling
      Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley, CA

      Also IMO Pale Ales and IPAs work great with spicy food

      My personal favorites
      Stone Pale Ale
      Stone IPA
      Sweet Water 420
      Serra Nevada IPA ....

      I could go on and on and on

      2 Replies
      1. re: chris2269

        Definitely go with a nice hoppy India Pale Ale if you are going with beer. I've read that the hop resin counteracts the effects of the capsaicin. I like to pair a Bell's Two Hearted with a spicy Thai curry, makes a great balance.

        1. re: ChipDipson

          Although I certainly question the "hop resin" theory, I do enjoy West Coast IPA's with well-balanced, spicy Asian foods. I think the pairing works, however, only in part to the capsaicin element. It is the floral qualities expressed by many of the dishes that are best matched to overt hoppiness.

          As you will see from the following thread, there are certainly knowledgeable and well-articulated dissenters from the suggestion:

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/753272

      2. For wines young whites specifically but not exclusively Riesling, Gew├╝rztraminer & some Ehrenfelser.

        1. I can tell you what to stay away from - higher alcohol dry drinks. We eat a fair amount of spicy food, and we usually drink wine or beer with our food (occasionally a mixed drink), and we've found that higher alcohol wines that are dry can give spicy food a huge super boost. I surmise that the residual alcohol acts as a solvent and readily releases the capsaicin. We can tolerate this with most foods, but since you mentioned Sichuan cuisine, that is one that comes to mind that really gave me a jolt when first pairing the two together. Sichuan cuisine in general is at a different heat level than most other foods. We were drinking a semi-dry Alsatian Riesling with an alcohol content of around 13.5% and my mouth exploded. I sampled this again and same result. We now only limit alcohol to beer, sweetish lower-alcohol wines and sparkling ros├ę with the really spicy stuff. I think around 11% is the limit before crossing the threshhold. IMHO, the dry/semi-dry wine recs already given can apply to less potent spicy foods.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bulavinaka

            Ive noticed this as well. Drinks with high alcohol content often intensify the heat from spicy dishes.