Piquant flavours and foods with a kick call for a spectrum of styles, says Sam Wylie-Harris.

They say variety is the spice of life - and having the right bottle to hand can be a game-changer, especially if you want to help lift your spicy shrimp, chilli burger or stir-fry, but don't want to send your taste buds off-kilter in the process.

Of course, some us aren't that fussed if the bottles clanking in the fridge door are all the same style, far from cutting-edge, and mainstream enough to slip down a treat with our usual weekday supper.

But when it comes to spicy food, it's worth being curious enough to pull the cork on a wine with an unfamiliar name - especially one that just happens to be a perfect match with those deftly balanced flavours.

So next time spicy food is on the menu, here are seven top drops to enjoy with your flavour-packed dinner...

1. Sandara Chardonnay-Sake (£2.79, 37.5cl, Aldi stores)

A fusion of Japanese rice wine and chardonnay, this is a gentle, colourless fizz in an off-dry style (a touch of sweetness), with light blossomy notes and hints of pineapple, balanced by pleasing acidity. Atypical, there's enough fruitiness to act as the perfect backdrop to fragrant Chinese dishes, and at 5.5% abv, it bridges the gap between 'no' and 'low' alcohol as we ease into February.

2. Kakapo White Wine, South Island, New Zealand (£6, Asda)

With flashes of freshness from word go, this appealing blend of sauvignon blanc and riesling possesses all the limey, lemony, zestiness, with refreshing vibrancy topped with hints of exotic fruits - and the piercing acidity to neutralise the heat of fiery Indian and Asian dishes, or anything laced with wasabi.

3. Luis Felipe Edwards Reserva Viognier 2018, Central Valley, Chile (currently reduced to £6.74 from £8.99 until Feb 19, Waitrose)

One of the virtues of viognier is that this increasingly popular, richly scented, peachy white tastes delicious on its own, but also pairs beautifully with aromatic and spicy foods. Once a Rhone Valley speciality (specifically the top notch wines of Condrieu), here we have alluring florals and sumptuous peach and apricot fruit, but with the perfect balance of freshness and richness to enjoy with mildly spiced dishes, such as chicken korma, coronation chicken, and prawns with dipping sauces.

4. Tesco Finest Lambrusco DOC Frizzante, Reggiano, Italy (£7, Tesco)

Lambrusco is shaking of its kitsch image, and you'd be surprised how this softly sparkling red from Italy slips down a treat with spicy Italian sausage or French saucisson. Extremely quaffable, this ripe, tangy expression is light on its feet at 8% abv, but with enough juicy, fruity sweetness, dark berry and cherry flavours, and typically bright acidity that makes you want to dive right in. Serve lightly chilled.

5. Famille Perrin Les Cardinaux, Rhone 2016, France (£10, Co-op stores)

While a tannic cabernet sauvignon loves a juicy steak, its bold, grippy flavours can bring too much warmth to hot dishes and end up tasting bitter and heavy. What goes really well with chilli con carne and sweet chilli burgers are young, soft, fruity reds with light tannins, such as this good-value Rhone red. A blend of grenache, syrah and mourvedre, the plush black cherry fruit, spice, soft tannins and balanced acidity strikes the perfect balance.

6. O'Leary Walker Polish Hill Organic Riesling 2013, Clare Valley, Australia (£12.99, Waitrose)

Young, bone-dry rieslings, with their attention grabbing, limey scents and intense grapefruit and citrus flavours marked by steely acidity aren't for everyone and can be difficult for wine lovers to grasp. But if you want a bracing white to balance the fiery spice of a chicken jalfrezi (or chips and curry sauce), this voguish Clare Valley riesling has lemons and limes in spades ,with a long minerally finish.

7. Pierre Brecht Gewurztraminer 2017, Alsace, France (£13.99, Laithwaite's)

Intensely perfumed with an open bouquet of rose petals and lychees, gewurztraminer is wonderfully aromatic - and Alsace the place to go for a great gewurz, which means spice - although the heady florals don't resemble spice at all. Think rose water, honeysuckle and Turkish Delight; lush, silky and honeyed with just the right touch of floral sweetness and a clean finish, it's a perfect match with creamy Thai curries and anything with ginger.