04/15/09 – wine to pair with Asian food

By Jesse on April 14, 2009

In a recent column, Eric Asimov of the New York Times laments the fact that so many Asian restaurants seem to have sub-par (or non-existent) wine lists. “To call wine an afterthought for most Asian restaurants would be too kind,” he writes. “Wine in particular was not part of the culture for most Asians growing up, so it does not spring to mind when opening up shop in the United States.”

This large-scale oversight has probably contributed, both directly and indirectly, to a pair of associated problems: 1) people don’t drink a whole lot of wine with Asian food, and 2) even if they wanted to, they might have no idea what to drink.

Fear not, good Winos — after this week’s meeting, you’ll never get the Asian food wine jitters again.

We’ll me gathering at the Red Carpet Wine Bar in Glendale for a tasting of wines paired with various Asian dishes. The cuisines to be featured include Indian, Thai, Chinese and sushi, so this should be not only an informative tasting, but a diversely delicious one as well.

Your goal is to bring a wine that you believe might compliment the various flavors associated with one or more of these cuisines. Without knowing exactly what the dishes are, that’s a pretty broad mandate, I’m aware, so your best bet might be to ask for help at your local wine emporium. Pick a cuisine you’re particularly fond of — Thai, for example — and ask your trusted wine merchant what bottle he or she might recommend to bring to a group dinner at a Thai restaurant. Same for Indian, Chinese, or sushi. Chances are, they’ll be very helpful in pointing you in the right direction.

Also, check out the article for more inspiration. Winning bottles at an Indian restaurant’s wine list included a Chinon (a French Cabernet Franc) on the red side, and a French Sauvignon Blanc on the white. Asimov also mentions sweet German Riesling and dry Tokaj from Hungary as good Indian pairings; for sushi, he mentions Pinot Noir, Champagne and Savennieres. Wine guru Alice Fering is quoted as saying that “oak and high alcohol don’t work” for spicy food, so keep that in mind. Search the internet for more suggestions, or put your faith in your local wine merchant!

Our good friend Amy, who works at Red Carpet, has been kind enough to offer up her wine bar for our weekly gathering… and she and I will be arranging for the presence of the culinary selections. Besides your bottle, please bring an additional $5, if you would, to cover the costs associated with the food. (If you’re not bringing a bottle, then please bring a $15 contribution for the wine and food pairing.)

The RSVP system functions like this: if you want in, you click on this link and tell me so (don’t forget your full name, e-mail address, and a cute message conveying to me your intentions). If you’re denied entry due to a meeting exceeding capacity, don’t worry — you’ll be at the top of the list the next week. Once you’ve gotten your confirmation e-mail, go out and find yourself a bottle of something Asia-friendly, plus $5 for the food (or simply come with $15 in cold, hard cash).

See you on Wednesday at 9pm!