Thai Food & Wine

published in Time Out Singapore

Thai food – some like to wash down the spice with icy cold beer, others prefer sweet milky coffee to pacify frazzled taste buds. But what wine will make Thai food tick?

Whether it’s a meat, seafood or vegetable dish, it’s the bright, zesty herbs – lime leaf, basil and lemongrass – that set Thai food apart from other Asian cuisines. Tangy turmeric, mint, nutmeg, ginger, garlic, cloves, coriander, peppercorns, sweet shallots, spring onions and chilli complete the plethora of flavourings. For texture and taste there is salty fish sauce and silky-textured coconut milk.

Thai cuisine, harmoniously combines disparate flavours and delivers more than the searing piquancy of chilli. In essence, it’s a balance of sweet, sour, salty, bitter and hot tastes.

So, onto wines. With so many styles out there, there’s no reason why a wine won’t pair well with Thai.

Sweet wines always work with chilli. Pick a spatlese or late-harvest Riesling, Moscato or even an ice wine or Sauternes. Sweetness in the wine envelopes the chilli making everything taste as smooth as silk.

Coconut-based curries taste, well, nutty. Seek complement with an oak-aged white wine – Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc or Fume Blanc?  The wine’s smokiness will mirror the coconut flavour, whilst citrus and white fruit nuances in the wine sets off the curry, whatever its colour.

If you must have vin rouge, avoid robust tannic-reds. They become more astringent when interacting with spicy foods, herbs and fresh vegetables. Go for a Merlot, generic Shiraz-Cabernet blends or Sicily’s Nero d’Avola.  If you must make a statement, have port on ice – off the mainstream but its rich, spicy and with an alcoholic kick to finish things off.

Find out more in the books “Pairing Wine with Asian Food” or “Wine with Asian Food”