Wine pairings with Asian food

When ingredients from the same region come together in a meal, including the wine grapes, it is wine and food pairings at its best. Historically, wine grapes had never been cultivated in Asia; thus Asian food naturally aren’t meant to be enjoyed with wines. Not until recent decades, wines have become more popular in Asia, while Asian food quickly gain global followers.  This is where they meet.
Grilled chicken

Explosive in flavors and contrast.

Asian food is among the most explosive and contrasting in flavors.  Often time, many dishes are nothing short of a tasteful roller-coaster ride.  Spicy, salty, sour and sweet are all pushed to the extreme to satisfy any craving.   Extreme contrast in flavors could prove tricky for wine and food pairings.

Spicy with Sweet

A large number of Asian dishes are spicy, or very spicy.  Either from black peppers or chilli, if a dish is spicy stay away from tannic red wines.  Spiciness combined with strong tannins on the palate is like tasting rocket fuel.  Spicy goes very well with sweet wines, such as semi-sweet to off-dry Riesling, Gewurztraminer or even sweet Red from Germany.  Chilled wines are even better as it helps calm the spice.  

Spicy Garlic Noddles with Seared Wagyu beef

Salty with Bubbly (Sparkling)

Champagne would be great, but it doesn’t have to be.  Sparkling wines carry touch of sweetness that is enhanced to a great sensation when paired with salty food.  Salted garlic prawns and chicken wings with fish-sauce dressing are to die for with a glass of bubbly.

Paprika seared prawns with caramelized garlic

Sour with Tangy

Tamarine is a sour fruit used to flavor many Asian dishes, when young, this fruit can make your lemon taste like candy.  Sauvignon Blanc, especially from New Zealand could have you smack your lips together, zippy acidity pairs nicely with the sourness in your dish.

So next time you’re taking your friends out for Thai food, slip along a bottle of off-dry Riesling and fruity California Zinfandel.  Chances are they’re will be serving spicy papaya salad and a glass of chilled Riesling is like golden nectar to the rescue.  For main course, your Zinfandel has enough structure to cut through any thick curry while its fruitiness soothes out the spice.

Cheers!

Thomas Le, CS.

 

 

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Thomas Le

-Certified Sommelier (CMS)

Napa Reserva -Falling for wine, one sip at a time. TM

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