Do you particularly like eating spicy foods? Are you a slave to the chilie? Well if you are ravenous for a lamb madras or a beef taco you will probably need a drink to go with it. But where do you start? What drinks complement spicy foods the best?

Fear not, we hope to solve this conundrum for you and give pointers how to alleviate the burn of spicy food as it goes down your throat. Most of the time the answer is in where the food originated from, countries such as India and Mexico have the perfect accompaniment for their spicy dishes. As a general rule of thumb, cold beverages with minimum alcohol are the best best but they are not the only answer, and we delve into some alternatives.

Ditch the Water

Most spicy peppers and chilies contain capsaicin which is the chemical that produces the burning sensation. Your body will react when it comes into contact with capsaicin and send messages to your brain that it needs to be cooled down.

Whatever you do, don’t ask for a jug of cold water as capsaicin is not water soluble, it can only bind to proteins so no matter how much water you drink it will not wash the capsaicin away. An analogy would be trying to put out a gas fire with water.

What You Should Drink

The key to finding the right drink to go with your Korean BBQ, or Thai curry is to find the ingredient that makes it hot and then you can temper it with the correct liquid. Indian and Thai curries differ, the former is made with a combination of complex spices, whilst the latter is crammed full of bird’s eye chiles. The solution is something cold for the Thai curry, but say a yogurt based drink to complement the spices would be better for the Indian dishes.

Beer & Spice

As a relatively low alcohol drink and combined with carbonation makes beer a perfect accompaniment to all manner of spicy dishes. With beer try to match like with like, so a zingy citrus-style Thai salad will go perfectly with a light lager. Or if you are down Mexico way eating a deep chicken mole, perhaps a stout or a dark ale would be your best bet.

Wine & Spice

Most wines do not go well with spicy food and ordering a bottle of expensive wine in a Mexican restaurant may be a complete waste of time. If you must drink a wine then look towards sweet or medium white wines such as chenin blanc, riesling, or moscato. Because of their honeyed taste they blend well with spicy sauces and will reduce their burn. The natural acidity of the wine will also leave the palette refreshed after you have taken a sip. Finally, you must remember why you enjoy eating spicy foods and what attracts you to keep on coming back for more. And finding a drink that will enhance that pleasure will give you the best of both worlds.