The Basics of Pairing Wine with our Thai Cuisine

My father was a wine buff, but was very sparing in my youth with what I could try. I recall one very popular restaurant we went to when I was only 12 years old. My father ordered his favourite red wine and after “Tasting” sent back two bottles because they were not up to scratch. When the third bottle arrived everyone looked the other way – way too embarrased to look at him. I prepared these notes for those of you who aren’t too sure of which wine to choose…or alternatively, which food to choose to accompany your favourite tipple. The notes are based on 14 years of eating a very wide variety of Thai food on a daily basis while also experimenting with as many different wines that my liver could handle. There are no rigid rules to follow but I hope you find the following a useful guide.

1. “White wine with white meat and red wine with red meat” doesn’t carry much weight with Thai cuisine. When choosing a wine, think about the main ingredients in your chosen dishes: coconut milk, spicy red or green chillies, lemon-grass, garlic and tamarind.

2. Residual sweetness in wine will offset some of a dish’s heat. If you are serving a spicy dish like red or green curry, consider pouring a white wine with a hint of sweetness, such as an off-dry Riesling, or a Moscato or sparkling wine. White frontignac is also well worth considering, The sugar will tame some of the heat and encourage your appetite for more.

3. Tannic wines can fuel the fire of spicy Thai dishes: As delicious as they are, highly tannic red wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and especially Cabernet Merlot are a great way to augment spicy Thai cuisine. The wine’s warm temperature and alcohol content will enhance the heat of already spicy dishes.

4. Sparkling wine is Thai food-friendly. Often selected only for special occasions, bubbly is a fantastic choice for Thai cuisine. Sparkling wines such as moscato can cut the richness of coconut milk-based Thai curries, and they also refresh the palate after a highly seasoned dish.

5. Try aromatic wines with fragrant dishes: The aromas of some wines just jump out of our special wine tasting glasses. Riesling’s citrus and mineral elements , Sauvignon Blanc’s distinctive gooseberry, lime and herbaceousness are some examples. Our Adelaide hills Sauvignon Blanc’s are really great. Thai curries and stir fries are often equally aromatic, with the inclusion of ingredients like Thai basil, ginger, limes and lemon-grass. For a memorable meal, pair a bottle of aromatic wine with a fragrant Thai curry or stir fry.

6. When you are really not sure, choose Rose. Rose is a smart choice when you can’t decide on a bottle of white or red with your Thai dinner. Full of the vibrant acidity of a crisp white, rosés also have bright strawberry flavour and some of the weight of a red, and they are versatile enough to pair with chicken, prawns, pork and seafood curries and stir fries.