Finding the right drinks for a spicy serving

Peppery pairings that sizzle

Rugged, rustic, and ripe.

Three words that could easily describe the Similkameen Valley, the area in and around Keremeos and Cawston, under the distinct “K” formation on the mountainside, the ‘ripe’ referring to the abundant fruit and veggie stands full of farm fresh produce.

Did you know peppers play a spicy part there, with more than 200 varieties in the region?

With so many peppers and possible culinary creations, you’re going to need a glass of something for a proper pairing. Thankfully, the award-winning beverage producers of the Similkameen Independent Winegrowers can pour you in the right direction.

Two Similkameen wineries are on the top 10 small winery WineAlign list and among the top 25 wineries in Canada, plus there is a new distillery already racking up awards. Together, 14 producers – a distillery and two cideries alongside the wineries – will be at Canada’s only hot pepper festival this Saturday in at Memorial Park in Keremeos, the Similkameen Sizzle.

Sip and sizzle with the Similkameen Independent Winegrowers from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the beverage gardens. Beverage tickets at $1 per ounce for tastings or glasses of fine wines, ciders and spirits, and bottle sales will be available.

Food trucks and small bites will be available throughout the day, and you may find a hot pepper jelly, salsa, or spice rub to pair with a newly discovered wine.

A fresh cider might be a good first choice to sip with a spicy dish. How about Untangled Craft Cider’s Mulberry Thyme, a dry cider with lime notes, with some Shishito peppers roasted with fresh thyme salt, and olive oil? Only one in about every 10 Shishitos is hot. Have the cider handy.

A jalapeño and cucumber Sharpe’s Distillery vodka cocktail? Why not? Kick it up a notch with a salad of the last of the season’s peaches, fresh tomatoes, crumbled feta, basil, and some peppery arugula leaves dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper jam.

Pondering red wine with a hot chili? Go for a lighter bodied fruit forward wine, such as a Pinot Noir from Crowsnest Vineyards or Gamay from Robin Ridge Winery.

A daring pairing is a mole sauce served with roast turkey this coming Thanksgiving (or maybe drizzled over the mashed potatoes), and a bottle of off-dry Riesling from Orofino.

Finally, your apéritif or dessert wine to enjoy after the peppers and spices have been put away: Saturn, a late harvest Sauvignon Blanc from Clos du Soleil.

Entrance to the Sizzle Festival, presented by the Similkameen Country Development Association is free, and the schedule can be found online here.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

A creative thinker with more than two decades of experience in communications, Allison is an early adopter of social and digital media, bringing years of work in traditional media to the new frontier of digital engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote.

She is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, an International LERN award for marketing, and the 2014 Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Hospitality/Tourism.

Allison has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 30,000, frequently writes and about social media, food and libations as well as travel and events, and through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating 31 million social media impressions, $1 million in earned media, and an estimated ongoing economic impact of $2 million.

In 2014, she held the first Canadian Wine Tourism Summit to spark conversation about the potential for wine tourism in Canada as a year-round economic driver.

Allison contributes epicurean content to several publications, has been a judge for several wine and food competitions, and has earned her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

In her spare time, she has deep, meaningful conversations with her cats.

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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