What Makes a Great Hot Sauce?

I love to cook. I love to eat. I love to cook and eat food with hot sauce on it. Sounds like a really bad beginning of a Dr. Seuss book that no one would read! It's true though - food is such an important part of life. There is a gravitas to dinners - with both family and friends. We are together, breaking bread, sharing a glass of wine, hearing the stories being told and retold of our exploits, either touching or embarrassing. Food is life.

The first question that I get about the hot sauces I usually get from someone interested in our hot sauce is "is it hot?". The name certainly implies that there will be some heat! What I really think everyone is trying to determine is will they like it. For some it is "is it hot enough" while for others it is "will I be able to add it to what I cook and not have my family hate me". These are e questions that we ponder as we select the peppers to grow and work out our recipes,

I am in the "how can I use it in my cooking to enhance the meal camp". I enjoy cooking with hot sauce, using it as another arrow in my quiver filled with spices. Not all hot sauces are created equal - it is important to be able to use the right one, at the right time.

What makes a great hot sauce? Here are my four criteria:

  1. Flavor - the most important thing thing is how it tastes. What is the flavor profile you are looking for?
  2. Heat - using the hottest hot sauce is not always the best thing to do. What is going to complement the meal? Is there something coming next on the menu that you need your taste buds for?
  3. Texture - if I am spicing up a mayo-based dressing I usually use a smooth sauce.
  4. Color - it's a misnomer that green sauces are mild; I love using the hot sauce to add a splash of color as well as heat and flavor.

What are your criteria?