If you spend several weeks or months at a time in France or Italy, there are foods you start to miss, no matter how delicious those countries’ cuisines can be. For me, this is the huge variety of spicy dishes available in the U.S. There are pockets of hot cooking throughout France and Italy, but, with a few exceptions, you have to try harder to find them. Pairing French and Italian wines with spicy fare, then, is slightly trickier than “Drink this wine with that French cheese or this Italian pasta.” Whereas we can say that Muscadet and oysters or Cahors and Cassoulet are reliable pairings because the locals have been consuming them together for decades, if not centuries...we can’t do quite the same for curries, tacos, or tagines.
As a staff, though, we have experimented extensively with our wines and the vast array of spicy foods on offer in the U.S., and have put together a list of wines that go especially well with them. These are wines that are either low in alcohol, low in tannins, or have a little residual sugar, qualities that best complement the heat on your plate or in your bowl. Picking up burritos for dinner after a long day? Pop open a Riesling or chilled, juicy Beaujolais. Making Gan Guo at home or getting it delivered? Try a Gewurztraminer or Pinot Gris from Alsace. How about the Chana Masala I'm craving as I write this? Bandol rosé, demi-sec Chenin Blanc, or a wine with some effervescence provide very happy pairings.
As tried-and-true as those classic regional pairings are, we can be grateful to French and Italian wines for traveling beyond their home-turf cuisines, too. The selections below might not put out the fire in your mouth, but they will make the flames even more pleasurable.
Patrick Bottex France | Savoie | Vin du Bugey
Of all our “Spicy Food Wines,” this one might best complement ultra-spicy food. It checks all the boxes: effervescent, low-alcohol, low-tannin, and off-dry.
Guy Breton France | Beaujolais | Beaujolais-Villages
If you’ve never enjoyed red beans and rice, this wine is a delicious excuse to try it! If not the classic Louisiana bean dish, pair with another variation of spicy beans.
On a recent windy autumn day in Provence, I headed to Domaine Tempier to have a glass of wine with hundred-year-old Lulu Peyraud. We sat down as her daughter, Laurence, brought over a tray featuring freshly sliced melon, toasts with tapenade and brandade, and some cuts of saucisson. Empty glasses waited in anticipation. Can you guess Lulu’s preferred apéritif wine? No, it is not Tempier’s Bandol rosé. Nor is it Tempier rouge (although Lulu admits to a healthy red wine habit, “to avoid rusting”), nor the rare Bandol blanc. Instead, Lulu presented a bottle of...
Here at Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant we don’t believe in selling anything mediocre, and we would certainly not put our name on a wine we didn’t believe in. So our values are just that, wines that are full of value and quality.
There are hundreds of wines in our portfolio, but not nearly enough space in our monthly newsletters to feature them all. Here you’ll find recent arrivals and new additions to our site, from half-bottles to Jeroboams, across France and Italy.
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