As a guy ‘of a certain age’, I grew up deprived – there was only one hot sauce (McIlhenny’s) I knew of. Then I went to college in San Diego and discovered Crystal. About a decade later, hot sauce started to explode, at least on the grocery store shelves that I saw. In came Tapatio, Cholula and many others until finally, Sriracha burst onto the scene in the early 2000’s, leading to a growth of 150% – faster than any other food category.
Sriracha became popular because it delivers a punch of heat, for sure, but also exotic flavors. There was more to it than just a melt-your-face-off experience – it actually tasted good.
At the same time, another segment of the market saw equally expolosive growth. This group of devotees was more interested in delivering heat than flavor. These heat seekers homed in on hot sauces based on their Scovil Scale – a once obscure measurement of heat that was suddenly on everyone’s lips. Or should I say, “on everyone’s burning lips”? Chicken wings began getting hotter, as did sauces of all sorts, and “how hot can you go?!” became the challenge between friends who enjoy enduring pain together, for reasons I’m not entirely sure of.
Which brings me to another hot sauce with roots in Southeast Asia – Lola’s.
The Changing Face of Hot Sauce
In the Philippines, “Lola” refers affectionately to a Grandmother. Lola’s hot sauces were created by a Philippina who has been referred to as ‘Lola’ by all her friends and family since the birth of her grandchildren. Her home made hot sauce had been around for ages, shared with friends and family. Her sauce was treasured for its organic ingredients and reliance on lime juice instead of vinegar for the acidity a hot sauce needs to deliver. The lime juice is an expensive alternativeto but it brings flavor as well as acidity to the sauce.
You wouldn’t be reading this now if Lola hadn’t shared her secret recipe with her son in 2015. He was so enthusiastic about the product he eventually quit his day job to promote Lola’s sauce. A restaurant ensued (Called Lola’s, naturally – 4.5 stars on Yelp), and sales have enjoyed an upward trend since day one (thanks to demand for home delivery during COVID). Watch the short origin story here:
What Wine Goes Well With Lolas?
While most hot sauces overwhelm wine, Lola’s feature a heat that subsides quickly, allowing for a broader range of pairings than the traditional limitations allow. The trad guidance goes “Sweet with Heat”, so to counter a dish heaping with Scovil points one needs to reach for wines so sweet they’re practically dessert.
While Lola’s sauces afford the food lover a wider range of wine pairing satisfaction, they would be wise to stay away from high-alcohol wines and most red wines, as a general rule. The exception being soft, low-tannin reds with a fruit-forward profile that are best served slightly chilled. Add to those the traditional aromatic white wines (Riesling, Muscat/ Moscato, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris…) and you have a wide array of enjoyable pairings ahead!
Need help thinking of recipes that feature Lola’s Hot Sauces? Look no further than right here.
Dave the Wine Merchant