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Rene Calderon
October 12, 2020 | Food & Wine | Rene Calderon

Are Wines Spicy?

I for one, love spicy foods. I enjoy the lengthiness of taste that chiles, pepper corns or wasabi give to the foods they flavor. Everything seems elevated; vegetables taste sweeter, the umami in meats become almost an aroma itself, herbs are elevated to a perfume like state, and pizza – well, it tastes more pizza-ish . 

Tasting wines is a big part of Winemaking, but it can only be productive if one possesses a large catalog of experiences to be able to compare, evaluate or replicate. Food becomes then a perfect medium to integrate new flavors, tastes, and aromas to our personal comparative catalog.

For example, All spice was not commonly use in any of my local cuisine growing up, it took a long time for me to even get exposed to it. The first time I ate authentic Chinese cuisine it was awesome. So much flavor, aromas, a new magnified taste - MSG, we should talk about this some other time, it deserves its own blog – and oH, goodness! as spicy as you would like. When required to learn the actual the essence of All spice, I did it by tasting simple fried rice with beef heavily season with the spicy. It is a hard one to remember because of all the elements its compiles, but once you get it imprinted in your mind its very elements give it away. Redundant! I know, but learning aromas is by its very nature redundant.

You can disagree on the perfect level of spiciness food should be at. But to paraphrased Yuval Noah Harari, people were willing to travel around the word on boat to put a little spice on their foods for centuries; so there is no denial spiciness is an important point to begin a conversation on taste.

Are wines spicy?

Well, the way I like to experience it:
  • Excessive transpiration
  • Excruciating burning of the lips  
  • Swelling of the tongue
  • Light tearing
  • Running nose
Perhaps wines are not spicy like that! Instead we get in the flavors of:
  • Black Pepper
  • Anise    
  • All spice              
  • Clove    
  • Cinnamon

To mention the most common ones.

Thereafter, one’s preference in foods can be significantly alter when deciding what wines we like, and more to my experience, what direction of winemaking a grape should follow.

It will be to no surprise to wine geeks reading this; I have bias to prefer varietals such as Petite Sirah, Syrah, and obviously red wines for the Rhône valley region in France. In General, these wines tend to be spice rich, a mouthful of texture, and long aromatic finish. Just like a spoonful of Mapo Tofu. 

Click Here for the Mapo Tofu recipe!

If Curious about the spiciness of wine, try our any our Petite Sirahs or our Evangelho Vineyards, Carignane.  Leave a comment and tell me if you can find the spiciness at them. I will post my personal notes later to compare them.

Click Here for info on our 2017 Petite Sirah, Todd Brothers Ranch

Click Here for info on our 2017 Petite Sirah, Louvau Vineyard

Click Here for info on our 2017 Cairgnane, Evangelho Vineyard

Do you like spicy foods? Leave us a comment below of some of your favorite spicy pairings. 


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