Asia is the continent with the most diverse styles of cuisines and as such food from across the world’s largest continent varies greatly by region, culture, ethnicity and more. Consequently pairing such a wide array of tastes with wine can be a difficult task.
What Makes a Good Pairing?
A good pairing is one that compliments both the wine and the dish. The wine should enhance the flavours and textures of the food. It can also create new flavors when paired with different types of food, which can be fun to experiment with as long as you don’t get too carried away. When pairing wines with Asian dishes, you want to look for wines with medium-high acidity and medium tannin. These qualities match well with the bold and complex flavours of Asian cuisines.
Wines with high acidity will help cleanse the palate after each bite, allowing you to savour each bite to the fullest. Wines with higher tannin will help to cut through the richness and intensity of many Asian cuisines. You also want to select wines that are not too heavy, as Asian cuisines tend to be on the more rich, spicy and hearty side. Finally, when pairing wines with Asian meals, it is important to keep in mind that you don’t want to overpower the flavors of the wine. The key is to harmonize the two.
Chinese cuisine is so divers we’d need an entire encyclopedia to properly discuss wine pairings. However, a lot Chinese dishes are characterized by its use of bold and pungent flavors like rich soy sauce, ginger, star anise, Szechuan peppercorns, and sesame oil. When it comes to wines, the best pairings are those with higher acidity and tannin levels. A medium-bodied and high-alcohol level Zinfandel would be the perfect choice for a Chinese meal, as it has high acidity, medium tannin, and high alcohol content. Pinot Noirs from the Burgundy and New Zealand regions are excellent choices, as are Grenache, Syrah, and Malbec from the Southern Rhône Valley, and Rhone Valley in France. Sparkling win also often works, try a Sparkling Pinot Noir, it’ll surprise you.
Japanese cuisine has a reputation for being lighter, more subtle and less spicy, which makes it perfect for pairing with all sorts of wines. Riesling and Pinot Gris from the Loire Valley in France, as well as Gewürztraminer and Muscat wines are excellent option for a Japanese meal. These wines are light, aromatic and sometimes semi-sweet, with high acidity and low tannin levels. Other excellent choices include Sauvignon blanc, Colombard, and Semillon wines from the Bordeaux region of France, as well as dry, aromatic and fruity white wines made from Verdelho and Malvoisie grapes from the Madeira Islands in Portugal.
Korean cuisine uses a lot of soy sauce as a condiment, making it a perfect food to pair with wines high in acidity. So look for a high-acidity white wine to pair with a Korean meal. Some excellent options for this meal include Riesling and Gewürztraminer wines from the Rhine region in Germany, as well as Chenin blanc and Sauvignon blanc wines from the South Western France Bordeaux region.
Singaporean and Malaysian Cuisines
The seafood-based flavor profile in these cuisines make them a perfect pairing for wines with high acidity, medium tannin levels, and high alcohol content. Wines with high acidity that pair perfectly with Singaporean and Malaysian cuisines include wines made from Verdelho and Malvoisie grapes from the Madeira Islands in Portugal, and the Sauternes wine region in France.
Thai cuisine is widely known for its use of herbs, spices and coconut milk. The best wines to pair with these dishes have high acidity levels. Some excellent options include Riesling and Gewürztraminer wines from the Rhine region in Germany, as well as Chenin blanc, Sauvignon blanc and Verdello wines from the Bordeaux region in France.
In summary, each Asian cuisine has its own unique flavour profile that requires a specific style of wine to pair well with it. The key is to select wines that have medium-high acidity and medium tannin levels. Wines that are high in acidity are best for Asian cuisines with bold flavours, while wines with more tannin are better for Asian cuisines with more delicate flavours. The best way to discover which wines go best with each type of Asian cuisine is to experiment and explore!
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