Wine Blog

Discovering spicy notes in wines

They crossed the seas to enhance the cuisines of different countries. They not only give flavor to dishes, but spices also possess many healthy properties. I invite you to learn about the spices aromas that we can find in wines.

By Ania Smolec / April 12, 2017
Wine Journalist

Whether individually or in a blend, such as the famous Indian curry, spices always give life and identity to the different cuisines of the world. Spices can be used fresh or dried. Thus we obtain different and complex aromas, as is the case of fresh cilantro and dried coriander seeds. Surely some of them will surprise your palates. Others are old acquaintances that many of us cultivate in gardens or on the balconies of our apartments. I invite you to learn more about them and even recognize their aromas in wines.

The most popular spices which we can recognize in the world of wine are: black pepper, pink pepper, white pepper, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, vanilla, anise, thyme, bay leaves, basil, oregano, dill, fennel, ginger, angelica, marjoram, rosemary, licorice, cardamom and curry.

Spices Casillero del Diablo Malbec

As you can see, on this list we gather spices of fresh, spicy and sweet aromas, that we can feel in different strains and styles of wines.

If you like to cook, you probably keep most of these spices in your kitchen. Otherwise, I invite you to incorporate them into your olfactory memory and, of course, to the daily life of your recipes. Keep each one in a glass jar. Smell your spices frequently and memorize these aromas. This simple exercise is essential if you want to expand your library of aromas present in wines.

As a basic guide, and in order to assist you in your research, I present you a list of the most well-known strains and their most characteristic spicy aromas:
Aromas-Especias-tintos- Esp
As we have said before, the aromas of wines come from their varietal genetics and from environmental factors such as soil (blood, iron or mineral notes) and climate (for example, the sea breeze allows the appearance of fresh aromas such as thyme or tomato leaves). But they also come from their winemaking. When a wine is stored in a roasted wooden barrel, it develops a wider palette of spicy aromas.

The most characteristic notes of oak are cinnamon, cloves and curry, in the case of red wines, such as Casillero del Diablo Reserva Privada Cabernet Sauvignon, and vanilla aromas, in the case of white wines, such as Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay.

I would also like to remind you that some regions favor the appearance of some very characteristic aromas, such as spicy notes in rather warm climates like the Central Valley, which support and reinforce the aromatic profile of a wine such as Casillero del Diablo Shiraz

Some sparkling wines, especially those made from the Chardonnay strain, like Casillero del Diablo Devil’s Collection Brut, have intense vanilla aromas from the vine and its winemaking.

Especias Casillero del Diablo CarmenereNow I invite you to cook. You can take any protein and -using spices- travel to any corner of the world. For example:

  • Mediterranean cuisine: oregano, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, cilantro, basil, fennel
  • Indian cuisine: cardamom, bay leaf, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, ginger, nutmeg, turmeric, saffron
  • Arab cuisine: oregano, basil, thyme, cumin, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom,
  • Thai cuisine: basil, cumin, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, lima caffir
  • French cuisine: marjoram, rosemary, thyme, parsley, bay leaf
  • Italian cuisine: fennel, bay leaf, basil, sage, oregano
  • Mexican cuisine: coriander, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, hot pepper

And according to the aromatic profile of your spice mix, you can choose the best pairing. For example, if you season chicken breasts with Italian-style spices, I recommend you try it with Casillero del Diablo Merlot. However, if the same meat is seasoned with Thai spices, the result is much cooler and the perfect pairing will be Casillero del Diablo Pinot Grigio.

You can also choose a wine first and then look for a recipe that matches its notes. For example, for a wine like Casillero del Diablo Carmenere I recommend an Italian recipe called pasta Cacio e Peppe (cheese and pepper pasta). It is a dish from the region of Lazio, with its historical capital of Rome, which will perfectly match the body and salty character of the Carmenere.

Cacio e Peppe

Cacio e PeppeIngredients for 4 people

  • 600 grams of dry pasta, spaghetti type
  • 300 grams of grated semi-ripe sheep cheese type Roman Pecorino
  • 2 teaspoons of black peppercorns
  • Salt.


  1. In a large bowl put all the cheese and ground black pepper well, crushed in the mortar.
  2. Cook the pasta in boiling water with salt until al dente. Save a little of this cooking water.
  3. Pour the pasta into the cheese and immediately add a little of cooking water. Mix so that the cheese melts and forms a kind of cream.
  4. Serve immediately on a hot plate and sprinkle with a little more of black pepper.

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