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1. Choose low-alcohol, fruity wines like Sauvignon Blanc and rosé for the spiciest dishes. Fiery foods make high-alcohol wines taste hotter, tannic reds more bitter and oak-aged whites more oaky.
2. Tame spices with wines that have some sweetness. The residual sugar in many dry and off-dry wines, such as Riesling and Chenin Blanc, and in many rosés will balance palate-tingling heat.
3. Match spice with spice. The bright berry spice of a Zinfandel or peppery Rhône blend will enhance the heat in red-meat dishes; Pinot Gris's bite and bitterness will complement spicy greens.
4. Pick a wine with bubbles for contrast. The bright, juicy fruit and tangy acidity of a simple sparkling wine, especially a blanc de noir or extra-dry bottling, will cool powerful spices.
5. Steer clear of subtle wines. Since fiery foods numb the taste buds and diminish all but the boldest fruit flavors, it's a waste to serve old, elegant or complex wines with them.
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