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Beverages for spicey Asian cusine

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Beverages for spicey Asian cusine

stirs-the-pot | Feb 3, 2004 09:59 AM

Re(4): Thai Avenue - no sweat - Long - fire pepper issue, wine, whiskey and milk
Name: stirs-the-pot
Posted: February 03, 2004 at 02:10:18

In Reply To: Re(3): Thai Avenue - no sweat - Long - fire pepper issue
Posted by pdaane on February 01, 2004 at 18:20:30

Message:
Interesting observations, but I respectfully beg to differ.

First of all wine is not a condiment, it is a food full of proteins, enzymes, carbohydrates, sugars, dead yeast cells, a myriad of acids, wood tannins if the wine is barrel aged and of course....alcohol.

Alcohol is a solvent, thus any oils from chilis will be dissolved and the food will taste hotter (heat and spice a two different things). Any beverage with alcohol will magnify the chili's effect, the more alcohol, the hotter the food will seem.

There is this surprising trend I've noticed in several posts of consuming Bourbon with Asian food. Yes, many Chinese fellas like to drink copius amounts of Bourbon, Whiskey and Cognac with the meal, while this may seem traditional, the object is to get buzzed as there are no compelling elements that would make these beverages a good match with the cuisine, other than the fact that they are fun to drink . If fact Bourbon has so much alcohol that it would increase heat and the wood will make any hard shelled spices (peppercorns, cinnamon, etc.) taste bitter.

If the object is to neutralize heat, then a beverage with fat and protein would work best, milk or thai coffee. Contrary to conventional wisdom, sugary beverages do little to counteract chili oils. If alcohol is a must (it is for me) you can rarely go wrong with a simple, low alcohol, German Riesling or Singha beer.

I will quote info that have used when teaching classes on wine and food from a previous thread on Spoon Thai:

"As to suggesting wine for Thai food, I will preface by saying that wine and food pairing is highly subjective and what pleases the palate of one, may repel another.

There are numerous issues that arise with this cuisine:

Sugar - many dishes contain copious amounts of sugar, very dry wines will taste unbalanced with sweet dishes, for these I would not hesitate to drink a riesling of spaetlese or aulsese "ripeness" (these terms describe ripeness, not sweetness). They are based on sugar weight levels (oeschele) at the time of harvest and not residual sugar in the finished wine.

Heat and spice - These are two completely different things, with heat being created by chilies and spice (think exotic aromatics) created from "hard-shelled" or bark spices. In dealing with heat one should choose wines with low to moderate alcohol levels (below 12%) as alcohol makes increases the perceived level of heat and conversely makes the wine taste more alcoholic. Spices prove less of a challenge, though heavily oaked wines will taste more "woody" and possibly bitter when paired with these spices. To my mind, gewurtz is not an especially food friendly wine and is best enjoyed in the traditional manner with very ripe and smelly "muenster" cheese and caraway seeds, or on it's own. I have had great success with white Rhone's made primarily from marsanne (especially St.Joseph blanc) with many Thai dishes.

Sourness - either from lime, vinegar or tamarind. Any moderately, high acid wine should hold its own. Freak your mind with an Austrian or Italian "weissburgunder" (pinot blanc).

Don't be afraid of "reds", try a simple cotes du rhone or Australian shiraz with "tiger cry" or "mussaman" curry.

As most Thai food is relatively cheap, it leaves more funds to experiment with wine. Some under $20 choices beyond the German and Alsace selections that have been (cited previously in this thread) that have served me well are:

From the US - Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc-Viognier, Sokol Blosser Evolution #9, Navarro Riesling

Portugal - Joao Pires (dry black muscat)

Spain - Marques de Allela (pansa blanca)

Australia - Hill of Content Shiraz, Pikes Riesling

France - F. Pichot Vouvray, Chapoutier Belleruche Blanc CDR, Domaine Charvin CDR (red)

Finally, when in doubt a good NV Rose Champagne or lager beer (I like Bud or High Life) will do just fine."

Cheers,

STP

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