Every wonder why something that causes such pain is so beloved by so many?
Yes, it’s those little bottles on most restaurant and café tables… hot sauce.
Denver Nicks’ new book “Hot Sauce Nation” – American’s Burning Obsession – has all the answers as he pursues the history and scientific lines to understand how the fiery craze conquered American’s taste buds.
The author asks the question, “When did the country’s love affair with capsaicin (the searing substance in chili peppers and the hot sauce it derives from).
Nicks traces the history of chili from its likely origins in a small area of Bolivia to its introduction to Europe and the rest of the world by way of Christopher Columbus. In one chapter he even dares to sample some of the hottest varieties in the world, including a scorpion-pepper tincture that tops out at 3.3 million heat units.
Adding so much heat to the dinner table, presents a special pairing quandary for wine drinkers.
Master Sommelier Steve Morey has some suggestions and explanations.
“These food items are a problem for most wines,” he said. “The biggest problem with most wines would be higher levels of alcohol, tannins and oak treatment. This eliminates a large segment of California wines.
“At the very extreme, if you had to shoehorn a wine into pairing with hot peppers, you may choose a Beaujolais, with a little chill. The Gamay grape is high in cleansing fruit acidity, low in tannins and alcohol. A refreshing beer would be my first recommendation, but if you had to choose a wine, this may be it.
“I should mention that a wine with high fruit character may be a candidate, but typically a wine with high fruit extraction, Zinfandel, Malbec or Syrah, would also be high in alcohol. This would truly be a case of fanning the flames.”