JUNE 21, 2017
When temperatures rise, many of us find ourselves gravitating towards spicy food, and there is actually a scientific reason for this: Hot spices raise our metabolism and cause us to sweat, which in turn cools our bodies down. The best way to double up on this cooling effect is to enjoy a refreshing white wine paired with these well-seasoned summer foods. The tropical fruit flavors and aromatic notes of Albariño from Rías Baixas seem tailor-made for full-flavor cuisine that’s packing heat. Almost all of the spices we enjoy today are world travelers; for thousands of years these prized flavoring agents have been traded and shipped around the globe in order to simultaneously preserve food while making it more palatable.
Hailing from Galicia in northwest Spain, Albariño is a relative newcomer to the international culinary scene. While Albariño grapes have been grown and made into wine in Spain since the 12th century, it is only in recent years that wine lovers around the planet have had access to this refreshing, world-class wine. Winemakers in the Rías Baixas region produce Albariño in a wide array of styles, but the wines share many traits that make them ideal alongside heartily spiced food. Strong minerality, bright fruit flavors with soft floral notes, and aging in stainless steel (or just a light touch of oak) cleanse your palate for the next bite of food without overpowering or weighing down your taste buds. So this summer and always, if there’s spice on your plate, make sure there is a bottle of Albariño from Rías Baixas on the table.
Thai cuisine is typically flavored with lemongrass, cilantro, Thai basil, and nam prik sauce, which is both salty and hot. Albariño’s invigorating peach and lemon flavors will complement the green herbs on your plate, while its smooth texture and bracing acidity will wash the heat out of your mouth.
Indian foods made with coriander, cumin, fenugreek, and turmeric will have earthy notes in addition to the zesty flavors of freshly ground herbs. The creamy mouthfeel of a sobre lias style Albariño—wine that’s aged on the lees—is a perfect pairing for Indian dishes made with or topped with yogurt.
Greek style chicken or fish simply flavored with lemon juice, black pepper and oregano calls for the invigorating acidity of Albariño. If Greek salad is being served, the citrus flavors of Albariño will hold up nicely to tangy feta cheese and tomatoes.
Caribbean jerk spices include garlic, thyme, allspice, and chili pepper; jerk marinade also has lime juice or vinegar in it. The combination of earthiness, heat, and acidity are an impeccable match for a lightly oaked Albariño that brings on soft spice notes in addition to green apple flavor and a touch of brightness.
Mexican dishes made with jalapeños, cilantro and lime juice are perfect with a crisp Albariño. Flavors of pineapple and lemon refresh the palate, while the wine’s soothing texture is the foolproof antidote to the blistering heat of fresh peppers. The next time Mexican is on the menu, put down the beer and pick up a glass of Albariño.
About Mike and Jeff
MIKE DeSIMONE and JEFF JENSSEN, also known as the World Wine Guys, are wine, spirits, food, and travel writers, educators, and hosts. They have been featured guests on shows such as The TODAY Show and The Martha Stewart Show, are the Entertaining and Lifestyle Editors at Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and are regular travel and wine contributors for The Huffington Post.The World Wine Guys are all about visiting the places grapes are grown and wine is made, eating the food that goes along with that wine, and letting you know what we have found. In a phrase…WE UNCORK YOUR WORLD.