Thai food is among the most popular cuisines in the world, and for good reason, it's delicious! Thai cuisine is known for its intricate blend of flavors, combining sweet, sour, salty, and spicy notes in each dish. This complexity makes pairing wine with Thai food a challenge, but not impossible. We'll help you can find the perfect wine to complement some of the most popular Thai dishes.
What Makes Thai Food Unique?
Thai food is known for its vibrant colors, spice, and bold flavors. Many dishes are made with a variety of unique ingredients, such as lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and Thai basil, which give the food a unique and aromatic flavor. Another hallmark of Thai cuisine is the balance of flavors. Thai chefs aim to balance sweet, sour, salty, and spicy notes in every dish. This balance creates a complex and layered flavor profile that is both satisfying and intriguing.
Pairing Wine with Thai Food
When it comes to pairing wine with Thai food, there are a few things to keep in mind. First , consider the intensity of the flavors in the dish. Spicy dishes might require a wine with a lower alcohol content, as a high alcohol content can intensify the heat in the dish. Second, you have to consider the sweetness of the dish. Sweeter dishes may require a wine with a higher acidity to balance out all that sweetness. With those general guidelines in mind, let's dive into Thai cuisine and wine pairing guide!
Wine with Pad Thai
Considered the national dish of Thailand, Pad Thai is a classic Thai dish that combines stir-fried rice noodles with eggs, tofu, peanuts, and a sweet and tangy sauce. This dish is a bit sweet, a bit sour, and a bit salty, with a hint of spice from the chili flakes. A good wine pairing for Pad Thai is a Riesling. Riesling is a white wine with high acidity that can balance out the sweetness in the dish. Look for a dry Riesling from Germany or Austria, as these wines tend to have a bit of minerality that can complement the savory elements in the dish. If you can't we recommend a Santa Lucia Highlands Riesling.
Wine with Thai Curry
Thai curries are a staple of Thai cuisine and come in a variety of colors and flavors. The most common Thai curries are red, green, and yellow, with each having a slightly different flavor profile.
For a red curry, try pairing it with a Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is a light-bodied red wine with low tannins and high acidity, making it a good match for the spicy and creamy flavors of the curry.
For a green curry, consider a Sauvignon Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine with high acidity and a citrusy flavor profile that can cut through the rich and spicy flavors of the curry.
Finally, for a yellow curry, a Chardonnay would be a good match. Look for a Chardonnay that has been aged in oak barrels, as this will give the wine a bit of richness that can complement the creamy and savory elements of the curry.
Wine with Khao Pad (Fried Rice)
Khao Pad, or Thai fried rice, is a popular dish made with rice, vegetables, and often shrimp or chicken. The dish is typically seasoned with soy sauce and fish sauce, giving it a salty and savory flavor. If you prefer you can add a pinch of red chili for a spicy kick.
A good wine pairing for Thai fried rice is a light-bodied red wine, such as a Beaujolais or a Pinot Noir. These wines have low tannins and high acidity, making them a good match for the savory and salty flavors in the dish.
Wine with Tom Kha Gai
Tom Kha Gai is a creamy and fragrant soup made with chicken, coconut milk, lemongrass, and galangal. The soup is both sweet and savory, with a hint of spiciness from the chili peppers.
A good wine pairing for Tom Kha Gai is a chilled glass of Pinot Grigio. Pinot Grigio is known for its bright acidity, which can cut through the richness of the coconut milk in Tom Kha Gai. The soup's creamy texture can be balanced by the wine's lively acidity, creating a pleasant contrast on the palate.
Another great option would be Moscato. Moscato is known for its inherent sweetness, which can provide a counterbalance to the spicy and tangy flavors of Tom Kha Gai. Another option for Tom Kha Gai is Gewürztraminer. Gewürztraminer is a white wine with a distinct floral aroma and a hint of sweetness that can balance out the spiciness in the soup. Look for a Gewürztraminer from the Alsace region of France or from Germany, as these wines tend to have a bit of acidity that can cut through the richness of the coconut milk.
Thai cuisine offers a complex and unique flavor profile that can be challenging to pair with wine. However, by considering the intensity and sweetness of the dish, you can find a wine that complements and enhances the flavors of the Thai dishes we discussed above. From Riesling to Pinot Noir to Viognier, there are plenty of wine options to explore when pairing wine with Thai food!