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The Best Wines To Pair With Different Asian Foods
By Heidi Chaya
While Asian food is often stereotypically perceived as very spicy, the culinary flavor spectrum is extremely diverse, and a variety of unique regional ingredients and techniques sets Asian cuisines apart from others. It can be easy to wonder what kind of wines may best complement the intricately layered flavors of Asian food without taking precedence.
The consensus is to choose light-to-medium wines on the mellower side that will suit the flavors of Asian cuisine, letting the unique flavors breathe. One should avoid assertive, tannin-heavy wines, opting instead for lean palate cleansers with low alcohol levels to ensure the enjoyment of every expertly executed bite.
The subtle acidic taste of orange wines goes well with tamarind-heavy Thai foods, and medium dry rieslings or champagne suit complexly seasoned preparations like curries. Sour, off-dry rieslings work best to help counterbalance heat and richer meats like Vietnamese pork, whereas dry reds like grenache and syrah complement soy and oyster sauces as well as hot foods like kimchi.
Light whites like riesling, pinot gris, bubbly or fruity pinot noirs, and Beaujolais are recommended for Japanese ramen with its rich, salt-forward broths. Effervescent wines go well with sushi and sashimi alongside tart whites like riesling, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and chenin blanc that elevate the fresh, straightforward flavors of raw seafood.
If you find all the wine jargon daunting, you can always accompany your meal with sake, a super-friendly, mild Japanese rice spirit, as its amino acids bring out umami flavors in sushi, cheese, ramen, and fried dishes. Shaoxing, or Chinese rice wine, can also be enjoyed as a warmed beverage or used for cooking, but only the highest-quality versions should be sipped.