When looking to pair a wine with cuisine...

Enjoying or enduring different levels of spicy cuisine - your taste buds are looking for something refreshing & calming, that does not clash with fiery flavours like chillies, dried-herbs, hots spices and sauces that are the signature of these varied dishes.
Pairing wine with hot and spicy dishes can be a challenge, not least because of the many layers of flavours and ingredients involved..., but also because most of us have had a least one bad experience where the wine chosen was completely overpowered or detracted from the dish, or worse clashed.
By following a few guidelines, we can find an array of wines that don't just work with spicy and slightly hot cuisine, but actually (and more importantly) enhance the experience. Along with cuisine that is well seasoned, spicy, and maybe cured or smoked - they often have an added richness from the incorporation of butter or dairy ingredients. These should be a focus when choosing a wine, and not only focus on whether the dish is based on dark meat, chicken, fish or vegetarian.
Wines most suited to this spectrum of flavours are wines that are low-to-medium in alcohol, wines that are refreshing (i.e. fruit driven, with subtle / soft oak notes), and wines with balanced acidity. Alcohol tends to negatively accentuate hot spices, whereas acidity provides an enhancing contrast to both ‘spice’ and ‘richness’, while also lifting the many layers of flavour in the dish.
Aromatic, fruit-driven and off-dry wines are some of the best options. The natural fruit sweetness from residual sugar in off-dry white wines offers a contrast and calming balance to any heat and spicy notes, along with showcasing the different flavours.
For red wines, the things to watch out for are high alcohol and hard tannins. I find that low-to-medium alcohol and soft tannins work best, as wines with a firm tannins can accentuate bitterness, and complicate the flavours.
The following wine and spicy cuisine suggestions are simply starting points. As there are so many different wine styles around the world - and variations to prepare and levels of spicy cuisine
 - enjoy the journey.

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Pepper Calamari:

You are looking to complement the subtle oils in the calamari, but also match the firmer texture of squid and the cooking techniques: e.g. rings, tubes or cross-cut and seasoned with the pepper and spices.
So you need a vibrant, lively white wine with ripe fruit flavours, soft acidity to complement and release the flavours in the calamari.
• White Wine: A classic dry to off-dry Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc off-dry to medium Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, also a Brut style Prosecco.
• Red Wine: Difficult to match as most red wines will over power the subtle fish notes, though off-dry to medium style Rosé can pair well.

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Vegetarian Chilli:

You are looking to complement the cooked mixed vegetable flavours and varied soft textures, along with the chilli seasoning and the other dried herbs and spice.
So you need a ripe, engaging wine, with lifted fruit flavours, light to medium in weight and soft acidity to release the flavours - and slightly sooth the palate depending on the intensity of spice.
• White Wine: A classic dry to off-dry Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc off-dry to medium Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Chenin Blanc, Viognier and off-dry Rosé.
• Red Wine: A light to medium style Pinot Noir or Beaujolais slightly chilled, plus a Rioja, Valpolicella or Merlot can pair well.

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Pepperoni Pizza:

You are looking to complement the strong, earthy, pepper-corn flavours and the fats in the chosen salami slices, along with the melted hard-style cheese and any additional seasoning used on the thin based pizza.
So you need a medium to full-bodied wine, with good ripe berry flavours, medium to full in palate weight and with good well-balanced tannins and infused oak to release the flavours in each bite.
• White Wine: As we go into red meats it gets harder to pair a white wine, though generous dry style Rosé can on occasion cope.
• Red Wine: A generous Pinot Noir, Beaujolais, Reserve Rioja, G.S.M. blend, Merlot / Cabernet blend, Syrah and a classic Chianti.

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Thai Curry:

A Thai curry dish is made with curry paste, coconut milk or water - with a base of either: meat, seafood, vegetables or fruit and herbs. Curries in Thailand differ from the curries in Indian in their use of ingredients - such as herbs and aromatic leaves over a mix of spices. So you need a wine with generous fruit flavours, medium weight & soft acidity to balance the generous mouth-filling flavours, and calm the palate depending on the level of spice.
• White Wine: A lightly oaked style Chardonnay, off-dry Grüner Veltliner, Gewürztraminer or an off-dry Pinot Gris and a similar style Rosé.
• Red Wine: A youthful, fruit forward Pinot Noir or quality Beaujolais should not over power or clash with the coconut & spices - *(unless fish based).

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Chilli Con Carne:

Which translate to - 'chilli with meat' - is a spicy stew containing chili peppers, meat (typically beef), and often tomatoes and borlotti or red kidney beans. Other seasonings may include garlic, onions and cumin.
So you need a full-bodied wine, with good rich earthy flavours, medium to full bodied and with good well-balanced tannins and infused oak to complement the rich stew flavours and sooth the palate.
• White Wine: As we get into red meats plus spice it is hard to pair a white wine, though generous sparkling Rosé can on occasion cope.
• Red Wine: A generous Reserve Rioja, G.S.M. blend, Merlot / Cabernet blend, Malbec, fruit driven Syrah/ Shiraz and a Chianti Classico.

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Thai Fish Cake:

You are looking to complement the fish cakes bursting with flavours of the fish, the infused nuances from the seasoning of green herbs, and the spongy texture of the fish cakes, plus the light coating of cooking oil.
So you need a vibrant, complementary wine, with good fruit notes, light-to-medium in weight and subtle citrus acidity to release the lifted flavours in both.
• White Wine: A young, bright off-dry Pinot Gris or Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, an Un-oaked Chardonnay, or a dry to off-dry style Rosé.
• Red Wine: Difficult to match as most red wines will over power the subtle fish notes, though a Rosé Méthod / Champagne can pair well.

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Chilli Prawns:

You are looking to complement the subtle oils in the grilled or bbq'd prawns, but also complement the semi-firm texture of the sweet flesh of the prawns and the seasoning with chilli and infusing them with heat.
So you need a vibrant, lively white wine with ripe fruit flavours, with well balanced citrus acidity and a calming rounded finish.
• White Wine: A vibrant off-dry to medium style Pinot Gris, medium to sweet Riesling, or a classic dry to off-dry Gewürztraminer.
• Red Wine: Difficult to match as most red wines will over power the subtle prawn notes, though a medium to sweet style Rosé can pair well.

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Moroccan Lamb:

The slow cooking process inside the Tagine infuses the chicken with incredibly rich flavours of varied dried and fresh herbs, plus spices that burst out as soon as you take a bite, served with rise or couscous.
So you need a ripe, engaging wine, with broad fruit flavours, medium in weight and subtle acidity to release the most flavours in the chicken - and refresh palate depending on the level of spice.
• White Wine: An oak aged or part barrel fermented Chardonnay, Grüner Veltliner, plus an oaked style Chenin Blanc.
• Red Wine: A light-style Pinot Noir, Beaujolais or Rioja should not over power the flavours and if fruit driven will compliment the sweeter notes.

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Peri Peri Chicken:

Typically a chilli-based sauce is used as a marinade for the cooked chicken pieces, and made from crushed chilies, citrus peel, onion, garlic, salt & pepper, lemon juice, bay leaves, basil, oregano, paprika, pimiento and tarragon.
So you need a ripe, engaging wine, with generous ripe fruit flavours, medium in weight and soft acidity to balance the lifted flavours in the chicken - and calm the palate depending on the level of spice.
• White Wine: A lightly oaked style to a barrel fermented Chardonnay, a Viognier / Chardonnay blend, Grüner Veltliner or a dry, quality Rosé.
• Red Wine: A youthful, fruit forward, medium weight Pinot Noir or quality Beaujolais should not over power the chicken & spiced flavours.

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Rogan Josh:

Rogan Josh - 'red meat' or 'red juice' - consists of pieces of lamb or mutton braised with a gravy flavoured with garlic, ginger and aromatic spices. While the traditional preparation uses whole dried chilies that are de-seeded, soaked in water, and ground to a paste - you can find a mixture of paprika to cayenne.
So you need an wine with rounded spicy flavours, medium in weight and soft tannins to balance the generous flavours and calm the palate depending on the level of spice.
• White Wine: As we get into red meats plus spice it is hard to pair a white wine, though generous sparkling Rosé can on occasion cope.
• Red Wine: A generous Reserve Rioja, G.S.M. blend, Merlot / Cabernet, Malbec, a fruit driven Syrah-Shiraz, an aged Chianti Classico.