The Thai Challenge: A Spicy Pairing Menu


I love Thai cuisine for what it manages to pack into practically every dish: a wild spectrum of opposing flavors. Tangy, hot, sweet and spicy flavors working in perfect balance with each other. All of those flavors can make wine pairing a challenge, especially if you prefer red over white, but there are some terrific choices available, particularly in the summer months.

If you’re a red wine lover, go for a light, low tannin red, like a village-designated Beaujolais or a lighter Pinot Noir from Oregon. With Thai food, however, I find there’s only one true choice: Riesling!

So on a summer afternoon, there is nothing I enjoy more than sitting down to a Thai meal with friends – tasting great flavors that make all of us feel like we are on an exotic journey together.

Here’s the kind of set-up any fan of Thai food would enjoy, complete with ideal wine pairings. Bon Appétit!

Paired with: Reilly’s Watervale Riesling, Clare Valley 2007: With a summery hint of citrus, pear and white pepper, this wine perfectly marries the medley of tropical flavors in this delicious soup. It finishes with a crisp and cleansing mineral bite that leaves your mouth refreshed.

  • Yam Neua - Fiery Grilled Beef Salad

Paired with: Donnhoff Schlossbockelheimer Felsenberg Riesling Aulsese 2006. With tropical mango, great pineapple fruit flavors and just a hint of savory smoke, this German Riesling is the perfect cooling partner for spicy grilled beef salad.

  • Panang Pla Daeng Tod - Whole Grilled Red Snapper in a Sea of Panang Curry

Paired with: Josef Leitz Rudesheimer Berg Roseneck Riesling Spatlese 2006 - This is just an all-around great seafood wine. It has rich lemon and papaya flavors with hints of stone, sweet peach, and a bit of smoke. The wine has a full creamy texture that’s a perfect counterpoint to the panang curry and the smokiness of the grilled red snapper.