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Food & Wine Pairing - Asian

Simple rules to get started pairing food and wine...

Wine and Asian Food is a glorious combination...

Pairing Wine with Asian Food

Truth is, Asians generally love large dinner gatherings with an array of shared dishes, and so rarely dined with wine – there’s simply too much eating to do! But why let that hinder your love for both? In fact, a good combination of wine and Asian flavours can elevate any simple meal to a whole new dimension of savoury indulgence. Here are your favourite Thai and Chinese dishes paired with their best wine counterparts

Ah, the rich, spicy zing of magnificent Tom Yum soup. Best savoured with slow sips for the glorious layers of tastes. Balance this fragrant, piquant delight with a light aromatic white that has crisp acidity and copious fruity flavours – like Gewürztraminer, off-dry Riesling, or Rosé.

Grilled beef and vegetables dressed with basil and garlic stir-fry paste, lime juice, fish sauce and sugar. A refreshing salad with exquisite authentic flavours. Ideal with a dry and crisp Rosé or aromatic whites such as  Sauvignon Blanc or Grüner Veltliner.

The amazing spice that excites your taste buds with its zesty, appetizing gravy, and tender chicken meat. Temper the fiery flavour with a fresh citrusy medium or textural white: Off-dry Riesling, Verdelho or Chardonnay.

Meat-free treats can be awesome with wine too, perfect for a night-cap snack. Pair this crunchy, tantalizing veggie delight with a zippy Sparkling Wine or dry white, like a Pinot Grigio or young dry Riesling.

The classic sweet-sour Thai stir-fry noodles are always yummy and versatile with any combination of eggs, veggies, seafood or chicken. Even better when accompanied with a zesty white full of yellow fruit depth and no oak influence: slightly aged Riesling or Arneis or Fiano.

Sweet-sour pork never fails to satiate with its robust flavours of scrumptious meat and vibrant sauce. Balance it well with medium weight and textural whites with full fruit weight and bright acidity of Chardonnay, Verdelho or Arneis.

Chinese Sichuan’s spiciness is quite different from Thai: richer pepper flavours that bring slight numbness to your palate; tasty and invigorating! Bang Bang Chicken is one such staple of Sichuan glory. And a sweet fruity white with elevated acidity will deliver the perfect balance to Sichuan peppery excitement: Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Gris.

Luscious, tender lamb stir-fried with capsicum and chilli, lamb is another piquant wonder with deep, alluring flavours. Ideally offset by silky, mid-weight red wines of non-elevated tannins variety: Grenache/GSM or Nero d’Avola, Merlot.
 
Sweet, salty and superbly umami thanks to its flavourful marinade and sauce, Chinese stir-fried beef with black beans is pure pleasure to savour. Best paired with an equally rich and full-bodied red wine with a tasty tannin structure: Shiraz, Sangiovese or Barbera.
Peking duck pancakes are one of the most popular Chinese takeaway in the world. Excellent roast duck with sweet hoisin sauce wrapped in super-soft pan-fried dough. Match it with a gentle and fruity red or white: Pinor Noir or Grenache/GSM blends, or off-dry Riesling.
 

Choose a ripe, Oaky Chardonnay to match the different array of flavours that are evident in the crispy batter, that complement the chicken flavours and textures. If adding a peanut dip, it’s a whole new ball game – try with a Sémillon or Sémillon Blend. Pure comfort food!

Crunchy bean sprouts and noodles are good with a simple, crisp Unoaked Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay. Noodles with bean sprouts with prawns ore chicken. and given a kick with lemongrass, coriander, garlic chilli ect. make an interesting partnership with a young, not to floral Riesling, as well all the above.

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How To Pair Wine With Asian Food

There’s a prevailing notion that the exotic spices and bold flavours in Asian meals don’t play nicely with wine. While we can’t argue that a hoppy IPA tastes great with a spicy meal, you can certainly find wines that go well with your favourite Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and Korean dishes. Today we explore what works and what doesn’t when it comes to pairing with Asian dishes, and we’ll also share a few of our favourite recipes along with recommendations on what wines to try with each one.

Although it’s possible to pair a red wine with a spicy meal, in general you’ll find white wines do better, but it really depends on the meal itself. Start by considering the ingredients – is it a spicy Thai dish loaded with chilli peppers, or a tangy Vietnamese recipe with lots of ginger and lime? Either one might deserve a completely different wine.

Consider these wines as possible options:

  • Riesling
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Pinot Noir
  • Rose
  • Moscato
  • Champagne

In general we recommend avoiding bigger reds. Their higher alcohol content, heavy tannins, and thick oak flavors tend to overwhelm delicate flavors. That being said, if you have a braised steak or lamb dish with a salty backbone, a Pinot Noir, Syrah, or Zinfandel might be a good option to explore.

Indian food is incredibly diverse. It’s also extremely complex, featuring a vast array of spices and flavors. It’s the bold, intense flavors that make Indian food so exciting. When it comes to wine pairing with Indian food, it’s those same characteristics that also make the process daunting.

When thinking about Indian food, wine typically isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. The thought of trying to pair a beverage with so much complexity with a dish that has the same amount of complexity — if not more — might seem like an impossible task. Not to mention that many Indian dishes have a fair bit of spice to them. The good news? It’s not as hard as it seems. Here are a few tips to help you pair Indian food and wine and what types of wine work best with different types of dishes.

Pairing Indian food with wine doesn’t have to be hard. By considering the elements of your meal, the spice level, the sauce, and the protein, you’ll find the perfect accompaniment that balances the dish and takes your meal to a whole new level.

Indian dishes, particularly curries, feature an array of different sauces – rich, tomato-based, herbaceous green, and light and creamy.

Tomato-based sauces do well with White wines that complement their acidity. A fruity Rosé provides another excellent option. A dish made with a cream-based sauce is an excellent partner for Deeper reds with medium tannins.

There’s a common misconception that all Indian food is spicy. While many dishes do have a decent level of heat, not all of them are palate-scorching. To counterbalance spice, consider a wine that’s lower in alcohol, has a bit of sweetness, and is served cool. Mild dishes work well with dry wines, and medium ones pair well with wines that are off-dry.

As with any other cuisine, the protein in your dish typically affects your wine choice. Meat curries match well with a red such as a full-bodied Pinot Noir or more delicate Shiraz.

Chicken, seafood, and vegetable curries, on the other hand, go quite nicely with the acidity and fruitiness of a Pinot Grigio or Gewürztraminer. Again, make sure to keep the sauce and spice level in mind.

Vindaloo dishes are among the spiciest options in Indian cuisine. While they’re often served with pork or lamb, you can also have a vindaloo with chicken, tofu, or vegetables.

The spice level in the vindaloo sauce pairs nicely with Rosés, especially those with a bit of sweetness. A fruity, light to medium-bodied red such as Gamay or Pinot Noir would work as well.

Tikka Masala is a creamy tomato sauce-based dish. While it’s frequently a chicken dish, you can get it with lamb, beef, or tofu, too. 

One of the best wines to pair with tikka masala is a hearty Riesling. The fruity notes and bright acidity of the wine help to carry the spices in the dish and balance its richness. Other excellent options include Pinot Grigio and Gewürztraminer.

Saag Paneer is one of the most popular vegetarian Indian dishes, featuring Indian cheese, spinach (or a mixture of spinach and mustard greens) gravy, and a variety of spices.

To cut through the richness of the cheese, you need a wine with more acidity, like a Sauvignon Blanc. A Riesling provides you with another option. If you’re looking to drink red wine with your meal, consider a lighter Cabernet Sauvignon or a Rosé.

Indian cuisine has a number of different rice dishes, from creamy and comforting to earthy and smoky. Dal-chawal is the former, a creamy lentil and rice combination that’s both rich and delicious. 

Dishes like dal-chawal need a white wine to cut through the buttery texture. A Chenin Blanc is a perfect choice. It has a higher acidity level and a light flavour, both of which also help to bring out the savoury side of the food.

Sambar rice is smoky, earthy, and a bit spicy. The dish is a combination of rice, lentils, and Sambar sauce.

The flavours of Sambar rice demand a stronger and richer wine, such as a Shiraz. The wine also helps to bolster the spiciness of the dish, giving you an incredible match. Biryani, another smoky, spicy rice dish, also works incredibly well with this particular wine.

Tandoori chicken is a dish prepared by roasting bone-in chicken in a clay oven called a tandoor. It’s marinated in yogurt, lemon, and spices such as coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, garam masala, and paprika.

When it comes to most food and wine pairings, the general recommendation is that the colour of your wine should match the colour of the meat. Tandoori chicken goes against this recommendation, pairing perfectly with Pinot Noir. You can also choose a Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel. If you want a white wine with your meal, a Riesling works quite well, too.

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