Taste Test: Wines for Spicy Food #WinePW
Wine Pairing Weekend Group Tackles Enchiladas
Our Wine Pairing Weekend group is nothing if not brave. As we have gotten comfortable with our wine pairing explorations, we have started taking on tougher challenges and this month is one of our better ones: enchiladas. With wine as a daily occurrence at our dinner table, I have been making fewer spicy meals as I find them to be real challenges for wine. My prior experience? The best wine for spicy food is beer.
When enchiladas came as our challenge for May, I immediately knew I wanted to test out standard wine pairing advice for myself. Given that we have just two at the dinner table, I couldn’t open a dozen bottles, so I decided to test out one of the classics: Spicy foods demand sweet wine. As Madeline at Wine Folly states:
“#1 The Rule of Spice The general rule is that the spicier the food, the colder and sweeter the wine should be.”
I decided to try three types of wine, all from favorite wineries of ours:
- Riesling – High acid, sweet
- Alsace style field blend – Medium acid, off-dry
- Rosé – High acid, bone dry
I would love to add a Brut sparkling wine and beer to the list, just for completeness, but that gets to be just too many things to keep straight. Next time!
Idiot’s Grace Riesling 2013 ($22 from the winery)
Idiot’s Grace is one of the two labels you’ll see from Memaloose Wines, one of our favorite hidden gems of the US Pacific Northwest. Memaloose is committed to grapes grown in the Columbia Valley AVA, which includes land on both the Washington and Oregon sides of the Columbia River.
Eye: Clear, pale lemon yellow
Nose: Could be a German Riesling by the nose. Peach pits, rubber hose (in a good Riesling way)
Mouth: Medium body, super high acidity, lip smacking, just short of puckering! Balanced by a nice level of sweetness. Nice long finish, lingering impression of sweet, pears, peaches.
Matello Whistling Ridge Blanc 2014 (Alsatian-style white field blend)($24 from the winery)
I seem to have a thing for winemakers who are fiercely independent and make wines they like to drink, who cares if they are in the mainstream? Marcus Goodfellow at Matello makes lovely Willamette Valley Pinot Noirs, but he also crafts a variety of other wines, less well known and often in a unique style. Whistling Ridge Blanc is Marcus’ version of an Alsace style field blend including Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer grapes, all harvested and vinified together (hence, field blend).
Eye: Clear, pale lemon yellow
Nose: Medium+ intensity, very floral, lychee.
Mouth: Medium body, lively acidity, but well integrated, doesn’t seem tart at all. Fruity, off-dry.
Two Shepherds Trimble Vineyard Carignan Rosé 2015 ($22 from the winery)
William Allen of Two Shepherds is an amazing person, holding down a full time day job while he makes an impressive number of Rhone inspired wines from vineyards in California. The only thing I can figure is that he simply doesn’t sleep! His Rosé is made from a less known grape, Carignan, harvested early to produce a bright, crisp wine.
Eye: Clear, pretty, medium intensity salmon color
Nose: Clean, watermelon rind, roses, pears
Mouth: Nice, medium body, medium+ acidity, bone dry, a hint of saline note, seems like a little underripe red fruit is hiding in there, maybe cherries?
Spicy Shrimp Enchilada Bake
We’re always on the hunt for light but flavorful recipes; Eating Well magazine features recipes that are lower in calories, however, they avoid ingredients such as artificial sweeteners and fats that are too man-made, which I appreciate! With the exception of adding minced jalapeno pepper to the filling and adding sliced jalapeno’s on top, I followed the Shrimp Enchilada Bake recipe closely.
Taste Test Results
First, let’s be clear: all three wines were great and were good choices for the shrimp enchiladas. I was surprised to find the Riesling wasn’t any better than the other two wines with the enchiladas topped with jalapenos. The sweetness didn’t really do anything to quench the spicy heat, it just stood out as sweet. Likewise for the Alsace style blend – bright fruit and just a touch of sweetness didn’t help. In fact, I thought the rosé was the best of the bunch. The rosé possessed just enough extra fruit that its slightly richer body was a better pairing for the shrimp and the cheese in the dish.
At the end of the day, I’m left with one more test – Brut sparkling wine, because I’m back to my old conclusion:
The best wine for spicy food is…..beer
Wine Pairing Weekend Enchilada-Fest
Take a look at all the great ideas generated by our Wine Pairing Weekend group below. If you see this soon enough, we’ll be chatting on the subject Saturday May 14 10am CDT at #WinePW on twitter. Join our conversation!
Michelle of RockinRedBlog will be Exploring Enchiladas and Wine Pairings with WinePW.
Sarah from Curious Cuisiniere will post Chicken and Cheese Entomatadas: Pairing Tomatoes with Wine
For a list of past and upcoming #WinePW events, visit the Wine Pairing Weekend calendar here. We’d love to have you online with us!