CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There must be capsaicin in my DNA because I have an insatiable addiction to spicy foods.
Peppers are my crack cocaine, the monkey on my back and the refuge I seek when I am forced, over an extended period of time (say, one day) to eat foods prepared by aliens from the planet Bland.
So concerned am I about the prospect of having to endure Casper Milquetoast meals that I regularly and surreptitiously carry a one-ounce bottle of Tabasco with me at all times. Sometimes those mashed potatoes need a little zing, don't you think?
You're probably wondering how the incessant assault of spicy foods affects the wine judgments of a cultured and sensitive palate. Obviously, you would be asking the wrong person because I can't remember a time when I did not consume spicy foods (nor am I in any manner cultured or sensitive).
However, I do admit to toning down the heat a bit over the past several years to what might be considered moderate on the Scoville scale (a measure of the heat or piquancy of peppers). Still, I readily acknowledge that my predilection toward spicy foods does influence my wine suggestions.
And that's the point of today's lesson. There are indeed wines that enhance and complement spicy foods.
This past weekend, I prepared a dish made famous by David Chang. Chang is a Korean-American chef who has taken the culinary world by storm over the past few years with his all-inclusive brand of "new" American cooking. To be sure, he leans heavily on Korean and Asian foods as a base, but he applies those influences to standard American fare like slow-cooked pork or fried chicken.
And while his style is not particularly spicy, I did up the heat-ante on his Bo Ssäm roast pork shoulder recipe and on his sauces. Incidentally, the sauces are magnificent and easy to prepare. Many of the ingredients for the sauces are available in grocery stores or at the Asian Market on Seventh Avenue in South Charleston.
Oh, by the way, this is not a food choice for the sodium- or sugar-averse folks out there.