You know how artichoke affects your perception of flavor for some time after you eat it, and how that can screw up a wine? Well, I think the same thing goes for sichuan pepper (Zanthoxylum, hua jiao). Last night I served some lovely grilled organic charolais steaks (filets), nice and browned, and rare, with a sprinkle of salt and sichuan pepper on top. The Buzet that I served with it was lovely at first ... and rapidly became thin and sour. Totally the effect of the sichuan pepper. I had rather expected its slightly rough tannins to stand up to the harsher elements of it, and leave us with the nice melding of cabernet franc/merlot/charolais/the lemony flavors of the sichuan pepper. Well, live and learn. And keep a stock of good German Pils, because that saved the day.
Anyone else have experience pairing this spice with wine? In the past I've done throwaway Côtes-du-Rhones, Gewurtztraminers, or off-dry Blauburgunders; but there wasn't much of the spice at all here, so I didn't think I was matching to it.