At Chateau Lello, with the onset of chill in the air, there is an increase in the chilli kick in the kitchen. Whether it’s a low and slow-cooked Indian curry or a flash-in-the-pan Chinese chilli stirfry, it’s all on the menu at this time of year. While it’s true that an ice-cold beer is often a great slake for the fire in food, there are excellent wine and fiery food matches as well.

Wine is often better matched to the flavour and richness of the sauce rather than the type of protein in the dish.

Along with the kick of chilli and other spices, Thai style curries often have a measure of palm sugar, rendering the dish slightly sweet to go along with the spice.

Wines that work well with these dishes are full of flavour and have a hint of sweetness in the wines. My favourite go-to wine choice is Gewurztraminer.

These white wines often have exotic lychee and Turkish delight flavours with hints of spice and fruit sweetness and marry well with a Thai green, red or yellow curry. Other good wine choices for Thai curries are off-dry Riesling, tropical fruit inspired Sauvignon Blanc, or the pretty-in-pink, bright red fruit flavours of Rosé style wines.

While chilled white wines are a likely choice for most spicy foods, red wines can also play their part. A great example is how well a classic cool climate Shiraz from the Yass Valley region goes with a rich Indian curry. Indian curries often have fragrant spices, including pepper, cardamom and cumin, along with the richness of cream or yoghurt. Cool climate Shiraz has spice notes in combination with ripe black flavours, complimenting the curry and the moderate to high alcohol and tannin levels cuts through the fatty richness of the sauce. A slow-cooked Indian curry of lamb, beef or even goat is a natural act for Shiraz but try it with chicken or duck legs. You won’t be disappointed either. If you don’t have a Yass Valley Shiraz at hand, reach for a Cabernet or Merlot – they often work just as well.

Photo of Brent Lello - Yass Valley Wine Advocate

Brent Lello – Yass Valley Wine Columnist

Spicy, crunchy, Korean fried chicken is often a box-office bang-up on our dinner table.

Crack open sparkling white wine, and the match of the creamy tingle of bubbles and drying acid works to cut through the crunch and spice of the K-Chicken. Other matches are the crisp, citrus tang of Riesling with spicy, salt, pepper and chilli flake squid, Pinot Noir with Peking Duck and fresh chilli pancakes, or sparkling red wine with buffalo wings.

So, take the wine and chilli challenge; it’s guaranteed to add spice to life.