Who Says You Can't Drink White Wine with Spicy Food

It's often hard to find a white wine that goes well with spicy food, but we've found one that can take the heat.

Common wisdom asserts that you divide your wine choices into three categories; white for fish and poultry, red for beef and rose for whatever doesn't fit into the other two categories. This was a great idea when most people ate chicken, fish and meat in its traditional Middle-European or American forms. However, these days we are cooking more regional and global cuisine, which make picking a wine much more complicated. In the spirit of this new style of cooking and eating, I'm going to pick a wine each week and discuss some great meals that compliment this fun wine.

White wines are generally considered too light in flavor to serve with spicy foods, but that is not necessarily true. Fetzer Gewürztraminer, a spicy, full-bodied white wine that can be paired with a variety of regional cuisines.

If you love Indian Cuisine, a Gewürztraminer goes well with this easy Chicken Curry:


3 lb. chicken pieces

2 Tbs. oil

2 tsp. curry powder


2 onions, chopped

1 tsp. vinegar

1 C. water

2 Tbs. cornstarch

1/4 C. water


Heat pressure cooker. Add oil; brown chicken. Season with combined curry powder and salt. Add onions, vinegar, and water. Close cover securely. Place pressure regulator on vent pipe. Cook 10 minutes. Cool pressure cooker at once. Place chicken on a heated platter. Combine cornstarch and water. Stir into liquid in pressure cooker at once. Cook until thickened stirring constantly. Ladle sauce over chicken. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Yield: 4-6 servings.

Tandoori Chicken Indian Kheema Chicken With Coconut Curry

The cool, spicy flavor of this wine adds excitement to your meal while still cooling your palette.

Thai food is another tricky cuisine that doesn't always lend itself to a white wine. Once again, the Gewürztraminer is up to the task. Try this spicy Chicken Pad Thai from Wolfgang Puck with a chilled bottle:


Lime-Tamarind Sauce:

1/2 C. palm sugar, or 1/2 C. plus 2 Tbs. light brown sugar

3 Tbs. lime juice

3 Tbs. tamarind paste

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. paprika

Garlic-Chili Sauce:

3 Tbs. Asian fish sauce

1 Tbs. rice vinegar

1 Tbs. water

1 Tbs. sugar

1 Tbs. minced cilantro leaves

2 tsp. minced garlic

2 tsp. minced Thai green chilies or small fresh green Mexican chilies


4 oz. dried rice noodles, linguine-sized

1 quart cold water

Vegetable oil or peanut oil for deep-frying

2 oz. firm tofu, well drained, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. milk

2 Tbs. peanut oil

1 tsp. minced green chilies

1 tsp. chopped shallots

1 tsp. minced ginger

1/2 tsp. minced lemongrass

1 kaffir lime leaf, or 2-by-1/2-inch strip lime zest

1 Tbs. chopped cilantro leaves, plus sprigs for garnish

1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/4-inch-thick strips

1/2 C. bean sprouts

1/4 C. thinly sliced green onion, for garnish

2 Tbs. chopped dry-roasted peanuts

2 lime wedges, for garnish


Make the Lime-Tamarind Sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, lime juice, tamarind paste, salt and paprika. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Continue boiling and stirring just until the sauce reduces slightly. Set aside to cool. Reserve.

Make the Garlic-Chili Sauce: In a small non reactive bowl, stir together the fish sauce, rice vinegar, water, sugar, cilantro, garlic and chilies. Reserve.

For the Noodles, put the rice noodles in a bowl filled with the cold water and leave them just until softened, no more than a few minutes. Drain and reserve. (This can be done several hours ahead.) About 30 minutes before serving, heat about 1 inch of the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the tofu cubes and deep-fry until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon or wire skimmer, drain on paper towels, and set aside to cool. Reserve.

In a small skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Cook the scrambled egg until it forms soft, moist curds. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool. Chop coarsely and reserve.

Heat a wok over high heat. Add the 2 Tbs. peanut oil. When it's almost smoking-hot, add the chilies, shallots, ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime, chopped cilantro and chicken; stir-fry until the chicken loses its pink color, about 2 minutes. Add the noodles, half of the bean sprouts, the fried tofu, the scrambled egg, and both sauces. Continue stir-frying until the noodles have separated, heated through, and are glazed with the sauce and mixed with the other ingredients, 1 to 2 minutes more.

Transfer the noodles to a serving plate. Top with the remaining bean sprouts, cilantro sprigs, green onions and peanuts. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over the noodles.

Yield: 2 servings

(Chef Wolfgang Puck's TV series, "Wolfgang Puck's Cooking Class," airs Sundays on the Food Network. In addition, his latest cookbook, "Wolfgang Puck Makes It Easy," is now available in bookstores. Write Wolfgang Puck in care of Tribune Media Services Inc., 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, N.Y. 14207.)


Other great pairings are:

Thai-Style Tilapia

Coconut Shrimp With Red Curry Sauce

Chicken Kabobs With Thai Dipping Sauce

Most people never consider having a white wine with Japanese or Chinese food. For some reason it doesn't seem natural to drink anything but tea. Sometimes though, you want something different with some of the spicier dishes. So, the next time you're craving a spicy Chinese dish with a nice spicy wine try this divine dish:

Baked Hoison Sauce Chicken Wings

Swap the regular BBQ sauce for this sweet and spicy recipe


15 chicken wings

1 Tbs. honey or syrup

4 Tbs. hoisin sauce

3 Tbs. warm water

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. black pepper

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 scallion, finely minced

1 slice fresh ginger, minced


Marinate chicken wings for 15 minutes in a mixture of honey, hoisin sauce, water, salt, pepper, garlic, scallion, and ginger. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken wings on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, brushing occasionally with marinade. Turn oven to broil and broil chicken wings five more minutes. Turn wings every two minutes to avoid burning. To serve, transfer chicken wings to a serving platter and serve hot or at room temperature.

Yield: 6 servings.

Other great recipes that go well with this wine are:

Wonton Dippers with Creamy Chili Mustard Dip

Miso Soup with Tofu and Kale

Japanese Pork Sate

Kung Pao Chicken

Finally, let's not forget that sometimes desserts need a wine that can stand up to their flavors. While red wines go best with chocolate desserts, this fine white wine will add pizzazz to these great regional sweets:

Japanese Dessert


2 sticks Kanten (agar-agar)

1 can cooked Azuki beans with sugar


Wash kanten and tear it into small pieces into a bowl full of water. Squeeze out the water. Put kanten and 10 oz. of water in a pan and cook over low heat until the kanten is melted. Add the can of cooked beans to the kanten and pour into mold. Chill until it is set. Remove kanten from mold and cut into squares.

Japanese Fruit Pie

Persian Apple Dessert

Easy Free-Form Plum Tart

Fetzer is an enormously popular and easy-to-find wine that is carried by most grocery stores nation-wide. And as always, these and other great recipes can be found at www.recipe4living.com. Next week we'll explore another fine wine and food pairing. Until then, have a tasty week!

Around The Web