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Sep 11, 2007 06:19 PM

Spicy Thai Food

What would you bring to this Dinner Party at a Resto that does not serve wine??

Thai Spring Rolls

Assorted Pork and Chicken Satay

Coco Mango Salad - sliced mango, shrimp, lime juice, onion and chili

Khâo Yam “Songkhla - rice salad in the style of Songkhla province, with assorted vegetables and a sweet sauce (náam budu)

Kaeng Plaa Dùk Bai Chá-Phluu - a spicy, tumeric-seasoned curry with catfish and wild
tea leaves

Kaeng Khĩaw-Wãan Khài “Mang-kon” - green curry with egg-yolk-stuffed fish balls

Khûa Klíng “Phat Lung” - Phat(tha)lung-style spicy, tumeric-flavoured dry curry with beef

Plaa Thâwt Khĩi-Mîn - deep-fried tumeric-seasoned fish

Kaeng Kài Khĩi-Phrâa - spicy, tumeric-seasoned curry with chicken and bottle gourd (wintermelon)

Kài Bàan Tôm Khĩi-Mîn - tumeric-seasoned soup with chicken (bone-in) and kaffir lime leaves

Néua Tàet Dìaw / Néua Sũwan - dried/fried beef “jerky”

Steamed Rice

Mango & Sticky Rice

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  1. A dry Gewurtztraminer? Beer would probably go better, though.

    1. German Riesling, spatlese level or under, preferrably from the Mosel (you can tell by the green bottle). Ehlen Erdner Treppchen Kabinett is a recent fave-- one of the most prestigious vineyards in the Mosel, very well made, should be under 20 bucks on the shelf.
      Gruner Veltliner might work too, although I'd try to get a fatter style--look at Huber and Loimer, both from Kamptal.
      Alsatian Pinot Gris comes to mind--Marc Tempe or JP Adam both make tasty ones. From Oregon, A to Z also makes a delicious inexpensive Pinot Gris.
      Might not recommend Gewurz-- all those flowers with all those Indian spices might be a bit tiring and confusing for most palates (or at least mine).


      1 Reply
      1. re: tacostacoseverywhere

        I also feel that Gewurtztraminer is not the best match for Thai food. I concur that Mosel Riesling, Gruner and Pinot Gris all work quite well. I would also add Alsace Pinot Blanc and Muscadet into the mix. A briny, minerally Muscadet is a great foil to the copious amounts of nam pla (fermented fish sauce) used in Thai cooking.

      2. Fahgetaboutid... just bring the following 3 items:

        Great Alsatian Gewurztraminer
        Great German Riesling(s)
        A great wheat beer.... Paulaner is a benchmark, but there are so many good ones.

        Or even not-so-great will do. A meal like this will elevate mid-shelf wines to ethereal levels.

        Scheurbe is a tremendous match also, but you're probably not going to find a bottle unless you have a well-stocked vendor....


        27 Replies
        1. re: Chicago Mike

          Why do you think a wheat beer works with this food as opposed to a lager? And for that matter why do you think Gewurz works?

          1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

            > And for that matter why do you think Gewurz works?

            Thank god someone asked this. Wasting a representative Alsatian Gewurz on a Thai meal has been a disservice to both the food and the wine in every situation I have encountered the pair, although I can't say I was popping open Cru or Clos bottles in these situations.

            I can't help but think that someone, somewhere, saw 'spicy Traminer' and thought, 'Aha! This will go with spicy Food!'. Then the old wives' tale started, or so I imagine. Maybe Jean-Georges Vongeritchen had something to do with it (doubtful). However it came about, I disagree with it from my own experiences trying it.

            Meanwhile, a Gruner or a sizable quantity of Singha (or Beer Lao) has been a felicitous match every time I have chosen it. I think the king-sized Beer Lao probably saved my esophagus in Vientiane a few years ago. It may be inoffensive Soviet-style suds but it tasted great in-country.

            Your mileage may vary, but please don't pop and pour a good Alsatian gewurz at a Thai blowout based solely on another person's advice. It serves neither the food, nor the wine, nor the diners well, in my personal experience. Maybe I have an unhealthy reverence for well-made Gewurz, I certainly won't deny that bias.

            Oh, and to the original poster: Have fun at Jitlada. It's a fantastic restaurant.

            (Edited to reflect the fact that I've only my own experiences and tastes to draw upon. The conclusion regarding Jitlada, however, remains emphatic.)

            1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

              Because my ex-wife is Thai and I've had conservatively dozens if not more than a hundred major (and minor) Thai feasts featuring matching wine tastings...

              For a great reference, if you go to arguably America's greatest authentic Thai restaurant emphasizing wine matches (Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas), you'll find they largely stock Alsatian and German wines. Here's a link to their wine list:

              See especially pages 5 through 9... it's really one of the better German wine lists you'll find anywhere. I see they now have a Wine Spectator Award, this place is such a jewel... While I don't necessarily think Lotus is America's single-greatest Thai food, it's easily in the top 10, and without peer as far as a Thai venue with superb wine list. While on the subject, I'd go so far as to say that anyone who is looking for a gluttonous indulgent food & wine blowout that you'll remember for years shouldn't miss going to Lotus and just handing over the meal and matching wines to the chef. IMO it's one of America's truly great gastronomical experiences and one of the most reasonably priced.

              Why do these wines work with Thai? There's just an affinity between heat/ chili pepper, high levels of spice, and mildly (or greater) sweetish white wines... they are also tame and meld with salty fish sauce very nicely..... also the mild viscosity seems to add something. A chef could probably answer this better...

              As for beer matches, I just decided to try it one day... brought a wheat, an IPA, and a barleywine. My thinking was that the barleywine would be the best match given the sweetness, etc. (i.e. a crude analog of riesling)...

              But it was a very pleasant experience to discover the connection with complex wheats (those with well developed lemon, banana, clove, type overtones are the penultimate beers with Thai food)... I then repeated the beer experiment at a Thai food/wine tasting in Chicago.... and almost without exception all the diners loved the connection and wanted their beer glasses refilled! To put this in perspective, the first wine served was an Albert Mann Grand Cru Furstentum, a truly mind-blowing match with great Thai food... but even among this company a great wheat beer holds up very nicely as a match.

              1. re: Chicago Mike

                "...going to Lotus and just handing over the meal and matching wines to the chef."

                I took a look at the Lotus of Siam wine list (all 22 pages of it) and only 3 of the selections were gewurztraminer. LOS does indeed have an impressive selection of riesling...and nobody has denied that riesling works with Thai food. What is in question is gewurztraminer, which at least a few of us, deem a poor match for Thai cuisine. For the record, the LOS wine list is peppered with unctous, "over the top", trophy wines...including scads of enormous reds. So, does the chef/sommelier really believe that all these wines match his cusisine or that they suit the dispostion and pocketbook of his clientele?

                1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

                  And Suchay (Saipin's hubby and the wine meister) only has 3 Scheurbe's on the wine list also... But the last time I was there he insisted we try the Scheurbe with the cuisine, saying it was one of his personal favorite matches... and it's a great connection to Thai also.

                  Trying to defend the contention that Gewurztraminer is a "poor match for Thai cuisine" is defending the indefensible.

                  If you doubt the quality of the match, feel free to call Lotus of Siam, or Aruns in Chicago, both very high quality Thai restaurants with Wine Spectator Awards and extensive wine lists... or simply google "gewurztraminer and Thai Food", you'll have all the references anyone needs.

                  Here's a link to a 5-course Thai spread at Erawan Royal Thai, a restaurant known for extensive wine list, wine pairings with Thai food, etc. etc. Note that of the 5 wines served please see 2 champagnes, 1 riesling, one sauvignon blanc, and one gewurztraminer.

                  Lastly, look at it this way, if you think Riesling is a fantastic match for Thai food, how can you seriously think it's "sister wine" (Gewurztraminer) is a terrible match ?? The wines have such similar qualities that in Germany Gewurztraminer is fermented in the same ripeness scale as riesling (Kabinett-Spatlese-Auslese etc. )... it's just not that dramatically different of a wine and most foods that pair well with riesling will pair well with gewurztraminer, often dramatically well as in the case of Thai food.

                  As for criticizing the LOS wine list, apparently Wine Spectator finds it to be a good list... show me a diverse list that doesn't have a few "trophy" wines on it.

                  It is of course entirely possible that you're not drinking particularly good quality gewurztraminer. I personally find the majority of gewurz out there to be uninspiring... just lacking sufficient fruit layers... this goes for alot of Alsatian production as well as California, Washington, etc. An insipid gewurztraminer isn't a great match for any cuisine, Thai or otherwise.

                  1. re: Chicago Mike

                    I like inexpensive NZ sauvignon blanc with Thai. Gruner is good, and maybe just me, but as is vouvray. But then again, I drink vouvray with anything and everything. If Gewürz suits you, I don't think of it as a combination I cannot understand.

                    On the other hand...
                    -Lastly, look at it this way, if you think Riesling is a fantastic match for Thai food, how can you seriously think it's "sister wine" (Gewurztraminer) is a terrible match ?? The wines have such similar qualities that in Germany Gewurztraminer is fermented in the same ripeness scale as riesling (Kabinett-Spatlese-Auslese etc. )... it's just not that dramatically different of a wine...

                    Even as a green newbie in German wines, I totally disagree. I have never thought of Riesling and Gewürztraminer as sisters under any definition, let alone German Rieslings and Alsatian Gewürztraminer. They really are dramatically wines. Aside from location and white-ness, I find it difficult to come up with similarities.

                    1. re: mengathon

                      To be clear, there are very luscious differences btw riesling and a great gewurztraminer...

                      But to my palate they are differences within a similar flavor continuum... and I can't think of a wine that I would place "between" them as being closer to each than they are to each other (with Scheurbe as possible exception)...

                      They're similar or on a similar flavor continuum to my palate as are Cabernet and Merlot, for example,... differences yes, but more similar than different when viewed against the backdrop of the wine universe, and frequently inter-changeable as matches for similar foods.

                      But that's just my palate, I recognize some diners will find riesling and gewurz to be as different as riesling and port, they've just never struck me that way.

                      1. re: Chicago Mike

                        I don't believe mengathon is saying the wines are polar opposites, as you presume.

                        1. re: maria lorraine

                          well he says they are "dramatically [i presume different]" with "no similarities aside from the region they're grown in and the fact they're both white wines"....

                          paraphrasing there, but that's pretty close to polar opposites... way past 90 degrees.

                          1. re: Chicago Mike

                            Don't think so. He acknowledged they're both white and from a similar location. That's two big similarities right there.

                            So polar opposites, no. They're not even different colors.

                            I don't appreciate it when you inaccurately quote or paraphrase, and would like you to stop. You can make your argument without doing that.

                            Let's allow mengathon to speak. Let's neither of us put words in his mouth.

                            1. re: maria lorraine

                              so accordiing to you, meng finds riesling and gewurztraminer to have big similarities...

                              I just read his post quite differently. Isn't it interesting how two people can read the exact same post and take away a different message? Remember of course, that Meng was DISAGREEING with me, and my position on the matter was that riesling and gewurztraminer are quite similar in many ways...

                              And you read Mengs post to actually be agreeing with me, so.... language is amazing.

                              1. re: Chicago Mike

                                Beyond two quite basic broad similarities, he disagrees with you. I've always known that. Please don't misinterpret me...again...

                                I talked about the broad-stroke similarities to prove you wrong on your polar opposites presumption: that mengathon meant Riesling was as different from Gewurtz as was Riesling and Port. Your analogy was exaggerated and overblown.

                                I find this tedious. Lacking in joy. Taking too much energy to deal with these ridiculous misinterpretations.

                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                  NOW it's clear!!

                                  They are "dramatically different" but not polar opposites... now I get it! There for a minute I was confused.

                                  1. re: Chicago Mike

                                    I'm confused as to how "dramatically different" got paraphrased into "polar opposites." Black/white, north/south, riesling/gewurz??Does there even exist an opposite for nouns and categories like wine and riesling?

                                    Some respected wine writer whose name I do not recall wrote of Marsanne and Rousanne as the Siamese twins of the Rhône. My original point was simply that I think few wine drinkers would say the same about Riesling and Gewürz.

                            2. re: Chicago Mike

                              Bad typo. I did mean dramatically different.

                              By no means am I suggesting riesling and gewurz are different as riesling and port are different. Using your example, what I am suggesting is that differences between riesling and gewurz are NOT really comparable to the differences between cabernet and merlot. Or grenache-mourvèdre, marsanne-rousanne, sémillon-sauvignon blanc in bordeaux, or other wines I'd think of as "sister" wines. Geographic considerations aside, these wines tend to complement and supplement each other.

                              Assuming there might exist such a spectrum (it'd have to be 4 or 5 dimensional), according to my personal palate, the attempted analogy might be something like
                              riesling:gewurztraminer :: pinot noir:petite sirah
                              But that's just me.

                      2. re: Chicago Mike

                        Gewurztraminer is not a "sister" wine to riesling. You tend to make broad genralizations about varietals. Riesling from Alsace is nothing like Riesling from Washington State, Germany or Italy. Same goes for gerwurztraminer. Be more specific in your recommendations.

                        As to you citing Wine Spectator award winners...FWIV I hold no stock in these awards as all the restaurants pay to apply for them and are rarely denied the award.

                        1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

                          No more specificity is needed for riesling... Thai food in general matches well with riesling from all parts of the globe, and virtually all price points for that matter.... Riesling from california to germany to washington state to australia all work brilliantly with this cuisine...

                          In gewurztraminer my preference is for European origin (alsace grand crus or absent them, from Germany), in good vintages. Otherwise you're often looking at a less than exciting wine.

                          1. re: Chicago Mike

                            > Otherwise you're often looking at a less than exciting wine.

                            Well, this I can agree with. Perhaps my poor experiences with Thai and Gewurz have been more due to the Gewurz than the food. I could see how a Zind Humbrecht from a powerful vineyard in a dry year would be a much more pleasant match than some syrupy concoction from Washington State.

                            However, this is starting to feel like my craptacular experiences pairing Pinot Noir with salmon. I can see how it *could* work, but Barbera is so much cheaper, and so much less of a crapshoot, that I've decided to forgo the advice regarding PN and salmon, and just stick with what I know works.

                            Same deal with Gruner and Thai food. Or beer and Thai, for that matter. Hefeweizen could be more interesting than lager, I'll have to try that next.

                            1. re: ttriche

                              > Well, this I can agree with. Perhaps my poor experiences with Thai and Gewurz have been more due to the Gewurz than the food. <

                              Entirely possible, in fact likely. If you don't have a really luscious gewurztraminer it's just not that inspiring a match with Thai food... it still works, just not mind-blowing. This goes to the fickle-ness of the varietal, IMO.

                  2. re: Vinny Barbaresco

                    Further to vinny's question regarding Thai and gewurztraminer, here's an intersting excerpt from Food & Wine magazine re: the "Top Ten New Wine Lists for 2002"... note that one of their selections was Erawan in Chicago.

                    Here's what Erawan writes about their preferred wine matches for Thai food:
                    Chicago's Erawan is a far-from-typical Thai restaurant, as revealed by its handsome decor and red silk menus and its approach to pairing food and wine. Says partner and wine director Anoroth Chitdamrong, "Thai food is very challenging to match with wine, so we have to know the wines very well." The whites run mostly to Austrian and German Gewürztraminer, Riesling and Grüner Veltliner; the reds, to young, fruit-forward Australian Shiraz and Grenache. With chef Art Lee's signature Lamb Mussaman, lamb shank spiced with a sweet tamarind-chile curry, Chitdamrong recommends Dutschke's 1999 St. Jakobi Shiraz from Australia's Barossa Valley ($52). "It has a lot of berry and chocolate flavors, and not too much tannin," he says. Hidden Gem: 1998 Salomon Grüner Veltliner Kremstal from Austria ($45). "It's elegant and minerally, with a fruit-driven peach quality and a touch of white pepper, from a great producer," Chitdamrong says (729 N. Clark St.; 312-642-6888).

                    Note that.... "most to gewurztraminer [et al]...." Note that the very first wine they mention as a match for Thai Food is gewurztraminer, and this from one of Food and Wine Magazine's top restaurant wine lists.


                    1. re: Chicago Mike

                      What does AMEX know about wine???


                      To say that ANY wine "works" with ANY cuisine is a stretch. You have to talk in specifics-- this particular wine with that specific dish. Obviosly this is difficult. Even knowing the dish -- it can vary greatly between one restaurant and another, or when prepared at home. But I can think of few dishes where, for example, BOTH Trimbach AND Zind-Humbercht Gewurz would work equally well.

                      1. re: Chicago Mike

                        I would not hold ERAWAN up as an example...

                        ERAWAN closed a mere eight months after they opened. Neither the food or the wine program proved impressive enough to draw flies.

                        And it is still my OPINION that gewurztraminer is not the best match for Thai food.

                        1. re: Vinny Barbaresco

                          Just to be clear, are you saying:

                          1) as per your original post that gewurztraminer is a "poor match" (your words verbatim) for thai food.... or are you now saying

                          2) that gewurztraminer is "not the best match" for thai food, i.e. that it's a good match (in contradiction to your prior post of course), just not the best one ?

                          This will help immensely in making the proper wine selection.

                              1. re: Chicago Mike

                                Actually, if you read, I was the first to say that I might not recommend Gewurz, and stated my reasons. I still stand by that recommendation, no matter what WS and assorted defunct restaurants might say. Even if Gewurz could be considered an acceptable match for most Thai food, the other varietals mentioned (with some specificity in my post) are, IMHO, a MUCH better match.
                                Aside from the obvious differences in flavor profile, I also wouldn't call riesling and gewurz sister wines, particularly since gewurz isn't even indigenous to that area prior to the 19th century. (Gewurz Traminer= spicy grape from Tramin; which = Alto Adige, widely thought to be the original provenance of the varietal)

                                1. re: tacostacoseverywhere

                                  the gewurztraminer grape that's growing in Alsace is an evolved distant relative of the varietal in Italy... I don't think it's the same grape....

                  3. I generally do beer . . . EXCEPT at Lotus of Siam, where their wine list (I know -- it's not where you're going) features one of the best selections around.

                    My preferred wine choices are 1) a Riesling from the Mosel (or Saar) or 2) a Gruner Veltliner (or Riesling) from Austria.

                    I love Gewurztraminer, but I agree that Gewurztraminer is not the best choice, BUT . . . if you like the match, go for it!

                    1. An Australian wine.

                      Houghton's White Burgundy.

                      FAB with Thai food.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: purple goddess

                        The goddess has arrived. Nice to see you on this board.

                        1. re: maria lorraine

                          Thanks darl. I been under the weather, but a goodly drop of Banrock Station White Shiraz last night did the trick!!!