Chicago boasts quite an array of restaurants whose fare has a notable kick. The pronounced heat associated with Thai, Chinese and Mexican food can produce one’s natural pain killers – and (happily) a mild euphoria.
This tableside bliss can be tempered, however, by an unwieldy pairing between these cuisines and most wines. Many diners punt, and order a watery beer or (horrors) a soft drink to wash down the fiery food.
But there are wines that actually enhance the spicy culinary experience. Dry Riesling, especially one that’s from Washington State, can perhaps foil such resignation to carbonation. Vintners in France’s Alsace region perfected this crisper version of Riesling, which is usually associated with Germanic vineyards. Unlike the latter’s cloying sweetness, dry Riesling finishes clean after its initial floral burst.
Taken one step further, dry Riesling from Washington eliminates the hand-wringing over the prices of its French counterparts.
An example of a reasonably priced dry Riesling comes from Washington’s Chateau Ste. Michelle. Its 2009 Columbia Valley Dry Riesling has a light aroma of honeysuckle, with the flavor of ripe peach. Any initial sweetness is fleeting. The entire bottle might also go quickly once opened; it goes for $9-12 at most retailers— a great B.Y.O.B. option at the local noodle shop or burrito palace!For more detailed reviews of locally available value wines, check out my column on Examiner. Cheers!