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Fenwick Snowdon

The question: I love spicy food and I love red wines. Can the two get along?

The answer: I love them, too, but I think you'll find that white wines perform better in the heat, so to speak. …

I hardly expect to convert a red-wine diehard, but I'd be negligent in failing to stress that aromatic white wines, notably gewurztraminer, pinot gris and riesling (especially off-dry riesling), sing with spice. To ask a red wine to pair fantastically with spicy food is to ask an SUV to handle like a Maserati around the curves. A nimble white with a yin-yang of sweet fruit and mouthwatering acidity carries through and tames the heat. Red wines tend to be drier and also come with a truckload of tannins, astringent compounds that can turn noticeably bitter in the presence of chilies and other aromatic spices. If you disdain whites (which can be just as serious as reds), I'd suggest either a light, crisp Beaujolais (which should be served slightly chilled) or a boldly jammy, full-bodied style, such as shiraz or red zinfandel.

E-mail your wine and spirits questions to Beppi Crosariol. Look for answers to select questions to appear on The Globe and Mail website.