Spice World: Mex/SW Spice

April 08 2005 - 12:01 AM

Do you crave spicy food?  Is one of the
joys in your life getting all misty-eyed over a spicy plate of curry?
When most of us hear the words ‘spicy food,’ we think of
throat-burning, perspiration-inducing spice.  Yet there’s more to spicy
cuisine than watering eyes and flaming mouths.  Consider the following
spice categories:  Savory spice, Mexican/Southwestern spice, Asian
spice, and sweet spice.  How on earth does one select wine for such
spices?  It can be tricky.  Read on, and I’ll do my best to help.

Mexican/Southwestern Spice
is one diverse category.  It includes near-flammable chili peppers,
earthy mole, salsa, cilantro, and zesty citrus.  Dish yourself up a green chili quesadilla with spicy salsa.  Now, before you pop open a bottle of cerveza,
think about the kind of wine that could possibly taste good in this
instance.  Again, let me provide you with two options:  1) Light,
crisp, slightly sweet white wine or 2) Bold & fruity red wine.  The
light whites include German Riesling, Vouvray (France),
and California Chenin Blanc.  These wines work because they are a
little bit sweet and a little bit zesty (kind of like a salt-rimmed
Margarita).  White wines of this ilk will accent the food and tame any
spice-fire in your salsa.  If you’re feeling a little more aggressive,
fight fire with fire.  Pit a big ‘ol heavy red fruit-bomb
against this dish and prepare for a tasty wrestling match on your
tongue.  Big red wine will do its best to extinguish burning taste buds
with concentrated, fruity flavors.  Have a flavor Fiesta, give both
wine styles a try.  Wine recommendations:  Beringer Chenin Blanc, ’02 ($7; Cline Ancient Vines Mouvérde, ’03 ($16) from California (big red).