The One Mistake To Avoid When Pairing Wine With Spicy Food

Alcohol itself doesn’t make food spicier. Instead, it enhances the perception of spiciness. Alcohol acts as a flavor carrier, helping to distribute the spicy compounds more evenly throughout the mouth, intensifying the overall sensation. Stick with us here, because we’re about to get nerdier.


Capsaicinoids are the compounds responsible for the heat found in chili peppers. They are fat-soluble, meaning they dissolve better in fatty or oily substances rather than in water. Alcohol, particularly high-proof spirits and wine, can help dissolve these compounds more effectively. And when capsaicinoids dissolve, your perception of spice increases.

Alcohol also triggers our pain receptors in the throat and mouth. That is the warming, burning sensation we feel after taking a shot of bourbon or drinking a high-alcohol wine. The pain is real! This is why a spicy dish, like Nashville-style hot chicken, will seem spicier when paired with a higher ABV wine, lighting up your palate and nasal passages. So, what do you do instead? You take the opposite road.


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