Anyone who drinks wine even occasionally knows that they want to pair the right wine with the right food. Having a great pairing means that your food and your wine taste even better. A mediocre pairing or worse, a bad pairing, can make the food and the wine taste worse than they could. If you’re a true wine connoisseur you probably know how to pair things like red meat and fish, but do you know about pairing with Thai food? It’s such a unique combination of flavors that it can be challenging to find just the right wine to enhance those flavors.
Where to Start?
The absolute best place to start if you need a good wine pairing for Thai cuisine is with an off-dry Riesling. This type of wine is all about balancing out different flavor notes from fruity to acidic, sweet to spicy. Even better, the wine does really well at cutting through the spice of the food for those who don’t do quite as well with the heat. That means you’re getting food that’s well balanced in flavor notes, and you’re going to get a type of wine that does the same thing, especially with something like sweet and sour noodles.
Our Runners Up
Of course, maybe you don’t have a Riesling as an option, or perhaps you’re just not partial to them (not everyone is). If that’s the case, then you’re definitely going to want to look at some of these other options, starting with a Chenin Blanc. This wine comes in varieties from dry to off-dry and even sweet and gives you plenty of bright flavors and a right amount of acidity, which definitely pairs well with the sweet, sour, acidic and spicy flavors of Thai cuisine.
Sparkling rose can be a great way to pair off some great dishes as well and seems to work great with some of the most popular types of Thai cuisine. It gives you plenty of fruitiness and also a whole lot of sweetness, which appeals to a lot of wine drinkers, but the little bit of fizz you get along with it can be an interesting play on the spicy or acidic notes that come about in Thai food. It goes exceptionally well with spring rolls, for example, with the bitter notes of the vegetables.
A Grenache Blanc is another flavorful option that gives you a whole lot of fruit and sweet flavors to really give you that contrasting flavor. If you’re the type of person who absolutely loves spicy food, this is a great one too because there’s a high level of ABV that really enhances the spice level that you’ll experience from the food. That’s something to be really wary of if you have a high sensitivity to heat. With mango and Asian pear to give you sweetness and lime zest and lemongrass to provide you with some acid though, this is a great way to pair off, especially with tom yum soup, as an example.
A slightly less strong option compared to the Riesling that we mentioned first is a Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris. This type of wine gives you some great tropical flavors, but not quite as much of them as in the Riesling. It’s also got a slightly higher acidic side. All in all, you’re going to get a great balance, and you’re going to have some great flavor notes with the wine alone. You can choose the specifics when it comes to flavor, but if you get some spice notes, you’re going to get a really unique finish to the meal, especially things like noodles and umami.
Pair it Up Yourself
Not sure you’re in love with any of our top pairings? That’s okay. Think about the specific Thai dish that you’re going to order (or prepare) and then pick out a wine that pairs well with it on your own. It’s going to take a little bit of trial and error for most people to pick out the right wine, but you will definitely find a way to pair off your favorite foods with your favorite drinks for a tasty and unique experience for that next night out on the town. Think about the type of food you’re going to eat and the kind of wine that you usually drink. If you’re trying a brand new variety of wine, you can often find some information about its main flavor profile before you decide to pair it.
Sweet flavors pair well with Thai food that includes: tamarind, palm or cane sugar and/or sweet chilies.
Salty flavors pair best with Thai food that uses fish sauce or sea salt.
Bitter flavors pair best with Thai foods containing: bitter melon, vegetables or bok choy.
Sour flavors pair best with Thai food that uses: tamarind, tropical fruits or kaffir lime.
Aromatic flavors pair best with Thai food that uses: cilantro, galangal, ginger, Thai basil or lemongrass.
All About Thai Food
Your favorite Thai dishes are likely going to include several different components and will generally pair with several different wines quite well. When you find something that really seems to work, don’t give up yet. Just because you have one great wine and food pairing doesn’t mean that you can’t find another great wine pairing as well. You may come to realize that more than one of your favorite wines makes your favorite dish taste even better than before.
Don’t be discouraged if some of your all-time favorite wines don’t really seem to mesh well with the dishes you eat though. Not every wine is made to pair with every food. You may find that the wine that you love best doesn’t highlight the best aspects of the Thai food that you like best. That’s okay. You just need to expand your horizons a little bit and see what else is out there when it comes to finding something you’ll really enjoy. Be willing to try new things and definitely take advice from other people who have gone down this path before.