Phillip’s wine matches for spice

26th September 2014

Not all wine is a perfect match for spicy food because it can be overshadowed by the strong flavours. It’s tricky finding a red wine match and your favourite bottle can disappear in a cloud of spice. But before you reach for the beer, try some of the wines I’ve selected here. They’re from different countries and different expressions, but all comfortably complement spicy food. If you get it right, it can be a really delicious experience.

1 Jean-Luc Colombo La Redonne Côtes du Rhône Villages, £12.99/75cl
This is a delicious blend of Viognier and Roussanne that’s perfumed but not cloying. It has a hint of apricot and goes very well with spice. It’s a terrific wine and I’m really drawn to it. Don’t be put off by its skinny bottle because there’s a voluptuous wine inside desperate to get out!

2. Waitrose Viña Taboexa Albariño, £8.99/75cl
Alberiño is made in Spain and it’s really coming back into its own right now. This one, made by some of the country’s most well-respected producers, has bitterness and creaminess all wrapped up in a sea breeze. It’s amazing value too.

3. Leitz Rüdesheimer Rosengarten Riesling Kabinett, £14.49/75cl
This is a wonderful expression of a Riesling made by well-known winemaker Johannes Leitz. It’s a little sweeter than some Rieslings and has a great feel in the mouth – round and rich and full. It’s particularly good with spicy food.

4. Pecorino Terre di Chieti, £7.99/75cl
This is my first Pecorino, a grape indigenous to Italy, but not connected to the cheese in any way. It’s refreshing with floral overtones and a little exotic, tropical fruit thrown in. I wouldn’t have put it with these two dishes, but how brilliant that we did.

5. Waitrose Grüner Veltliner Niederösterreich, £7.99/75cl
Working with Waitrose, I’ve been trying new wines, and this is one of my favourite discoveries [meet the winemaker himself, p23]. It’s as good with spicy food as a Riesling, but better value. Its lemon zest flavours go well with curries and Asian-style food, and it’s very smooth and welcoming.

6. Valdo Oro Puro Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene, SAVE 1/3 at £8.99/75cl (£13.49 from 8 October)
Here’s a rather left-of-field match for spicy food, but it really works. You have fun and fizz, but without the Champagne price tag. I’d go as far as to say a quality Prosecco like this works better than its French cousin with these dishes.

Food Match: Fragrant Thai green chicken curry
Serves 6
Prepare 10 minutes, plus at least 15 minutes chilling time
Cook 45 minutes

For the chicken
2 x 500g packs essential Waitrose Fresh British Chicken Breast Fillets, cut into 3cm cubes
4 tbsp Cooks’ Ingredients Thai Green Curry Paste

For the Curry Sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
6 tbsp Cooks’ Ingredients Thai Green Curry Paste, to taste
½ x 100g jar Cooks’ Ingredients Tamarind Paste
2 x 400ml cans essential Waitrose Coconut Milk
3 Bart Kaffir Lime Leaves
2 fresh lemon grass stalks, bruised
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp Thai Taste Fish Sauce
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
250g baby corn, halved lengthways
75g frozen peas
2 x 200g packs trimmed mangetout
300g bag essential Waitrose Beansprouts

To garnish
18g pack fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 bunch essential Waitrose Salad Onions, thinly sliced diagonally

Method
1. In a bowl, mix the chicken pieces with 4 tbsp of the Thai green curry paste. Cover and chill for at least 15 minutes.

2. To make the sauce heat the oils in a large frying pan, then fry the onion on a medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the ginger and fry for 3-5 minutes or until the onion is soft.

3. Stir in the curry paste to taste and cook for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and fry for 5 minutes. Put the tamarind in a jug with 150ml boiling water. Stir until dissolved. Add to the pan with the coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass and bring to a simmer. Don’t boil.

4. Simmer for 15 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, the juices run clear and there is no pink meat. Add the soy, fish and chilli sauces, the corn and peas. Cook for 5 more minutes until the corn has softened.

5. Add the mangetout, cook for 2 minutes, then add the beansprouts and simmer for 3 minutes until piping hot. The vegetables should still be slightly crisp.

6. Remove from the heat and discard the lemon grass. Don’t cover the pan to keep warm because the vegetables will lose their colour. Transfer to a warmed bowl, sprinkle with the coriander and salad onions and serve immediately.

Food Match: Griddled scallops with chilli & ginger butter
Serves 4 as a starter
Prepare 10 minutes
Cook 5 minutes

Ingredients
50g salted butter, at room temperature
1 clove garlic, crushed
3cm root ginger, peeled and grated
2 red chillies, finely sliced
8–12 scallops (depending on size), cleaned
Sea salt
1 pack fresh coriander, stems discarded

Method
1. Mash the butter with the garlic, ginger and chillies. Sprinkle scallops with sea salt.

2. Place the butter mixture in a small frying pan or griddle. Allow to bubble so the chilli and ginger flavours permeate it. Add the scallops, season and cook for 2 minutes. Turn each scallop and cook for 30 seconds– 1 minute. Serve topped with coriander leaves and drizzle over the buttery chilli sauce.

Order any 6 wines or spirits with free delivery at waitrosecellar.com.

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