Cheat Sheet: How To Pair Wine With Asian Cuisine
There’s nothing better than that serendipitous moment when a single bite of crab rangoon and sip of vinho verde meet on your palate. You savor the taste and then you wonder: “How can something that was fried in oil taste so good with this wine?”
Let’s just begin by saying that it’s no accident.
Understanding Different types of Asian food
If you’re not accustomed to pairing European or Western food with good wines, then there might be a whole new world of taste and discovery that awaits you. Yes, a creamy Thai green curry or a spicy bowl filled with sichuan noodles can be partnered with even the finest of grapes.
Nowadays, even simple dishes like singaporean chicken satay deserve a chance to be savored with vino. This allows for an amalgamation of strange, new flavors to work their magic on your palate.
Asian cuisine, at its best, is often about drama. It features stark, robust and surprising ingredients like soy sauce, fish sauce, chili paste, ginger, lemongrass, and hoisin. Each ingredient stands its ground with a richness in flavor.
Dishes are seasoned with cardamom, cumin, coriander, five-spice powder, and even garam masala. These spices and herbs aren’t shy in aroma and flavor. They’ll require a varietal with a presence.
If you don’t play your cards right, these flavors can often knock out the vino completely by masking its fruity notes. This will leave it dull and make its flavor bitter.
Let’s start with what you’ll need to avoid.
The Good & The Bad
With so much to consider, you may need a simple suggestion on what the do’s and don'ts are, right?
Generally speaking, you’ll get a winning combo with the following grapes:
- Sauvignon blanc
- Pinot gris
The not so great options would be:
- Cabernet sauvignon
Now, let’s dig into why some of these wines work so well with Asian cuisine.
A Cheat Sheet On Pairing Wine With Asian Cuisine
The tricks of the trade - at your service:
- We’ve mentioned that you may want to steer clear of chardonnays. Anything that’s oaky or toasty will leave your Thai, Chinese or Indian food tasting off. Additionally, the vino will basically taste like a chunk of wet wood. Not good…
- If you really must stick to a merlot or a cabernet sauvignon, you’ll quickly learn that tannic varietals won’t win the battle against the robust flavors of Asian dishes. It’s just mean. Don’t do it, alright?
- Stick to the acidic route in this case. The higher the better. You’ll want something that snaps on the tongue. This is something clean and fresh with a sort of vibrancy that allows for the flavors of the food to bounce. Sauvignon blanc and pinot gris will prove that a strong acidity makes for a heavenly match
- Another trick? Sparkling wines from just about anywhere will work like a charm
- Pronounced fruit flavors blend well with aromatic dishes. German, Austrian, and Alsace rieslings will leave you craving for more. Torrontés from Argentina sneaks in as another surprisingly good match
- If you’re fluent in the language of tannins, stick to those that come with a lower content such as beaujolais or a full-bodied grenache
- Lastly, make some room for Rosé. They might seem meek and mild, but they deserve to be served with strong, spicy Asian flavors. However, if you really want to knock your taste buds out of the park, try a sparkling Rosé. You’ll thank us later
Now that you’re sorted on what to pair your Asian dishes with, you may need to source the goodies from a reputable source. Wine clubs are the way to go. This way, you can stock up on mixed cases of wines. You’ll then have many different options on hand to try with every dish you prepare (or order for takeout).
- Laithwaites - Industry leaders, great wine selections based on your personal palate
- Plonk - Organic and biodynamic, customizable shipments, and free shipping
- Firstleaf - Tailored-to-taste, great price reductions, and tasting notes
- Winc - No long-term commitment needed, complimentary shipping on four cases or more
- Cellars Wine Club - Free cancellations, free shipping, and an easy-to-navigate website
- VINEBOX - Great prices, a share and save program, and a sturdy collection of wines