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Wine pairing for Asian-flavored dinner

Looking for a good match, preferably red, for a dinner that will be both grilled tuna and flank steak with a ginger cream sauce (with vinegar and Sriracha chile sauce in it). Sides will be an "Asian" slaw (Napa cabbage, rice vinegar, chiles, bit of sugar) and a noodle stir-fry (glass noodles, rice vinegar, vegetables, sesame oil).

I've read some of the other posts suggesting Brut Rose (which I like but others will not) and suggesting Pinot Noir (a favorite of ours). Any comments? The dish will be somewhat spicy, not overly so...shiraz? zin?

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  1. If pinot is your favorite, you can't go wrong. Riesling and sauvignon blanc would be some options I would look at as well if it were me. Shiraz and zin could probably work, but I am not a big fan of these with Asian spices...but that is just me. -mJ

    1 Reply
    1. If it must be red, then pinot noir or beaujolais are okay options. Or an Austrian red liek Zweigelt or Blaufrankisch. Many zins might be alcohol heavy. Ditto shiraz.

      1. Vinegar is no friend of wine, and combining it with sugar and spicy makes it even more difficult. IMHO, you need a high acid wine that will have enough stuffing to stand up and work with beef and a beefy fish (tuna). Sparkling wine is the slam dunk (in general, cuts through oil/heat/umami) and you could choose the sparkling wine of your choosing, e.g. rose Champagne would be great but just about all of them would work. Hefty riesling with some residual sugar would also work, as would Pinot Gris or Pinot Blanc. A good Alsatian Gewurtztraminer would work, with the caveat that not everyone is a fan. Zesty style sauv blanc (e.g. New Zealand) but not mineral driven (e.g. Sancerre) is an option. Heat amplifies tannins, so I would stay away from big reds like shiraz and zinfandel. Pinot noir will be cut to ribbons by these dishes, IMHO. Finally, if you are willing to think far, far outside the box, good quality Lambrusco will be red, sweet, bubbly and fun (but you will have to convince everyone that there's such a thing as good Lambrusco--which there is). Just my 10 cents.

        1. I'd skip the red 100% and go gewurz all day.

          1 Reply
          1. re: invinotheresverde

            Its a tall order to work with Asian food for wines, since the flavors are usually so diverse and intense. Here's a link that may help.


          2. Not to be a skunk at the wine picnic but this pairing to me has beer written all over it. Huge flavors like vinegars, chiles, ginger, etc call for sweet sturdy malt and medium hops. I'd suggest a Belgian Dark Strong Ale, Bock, etc.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chinon00

              I agree with you here. Trying to find a wine to pair with spicy asian food is fitting a square peg into a round hole. You may find a wine that is OK but few to none will be a great pairing, whereas beer is a great pairing. Lately I've been experimenting with IPAs and Asian food. Both English style and San Diego style, with a preference for the bigger SD style.

            2. I would suggest a good sake, preferably aJunmai or Junmai Ginjo grade. It's about as far as you can get from red wine, but it would go best with your food.

              1. Obviously the ginger and vinegar (as well as the heat of the Sriracha sauce) creat the problem. Pinot Noir would probably do well, preferably one from Oregon or one of the less agressive CA ones if you don't want to spring for the cost of a good Burgundy. You might also consider a Cotes du Rhone or a Barbara.

                2 Replies
                1. re: dinwiddie

                  You'd consider serving a "good Burgundy" with that menu? That would be a waste to me. Could you really appreciate a good Burgundy under all those flavors?

                  1. re: Chinon00

                    Hey, I have no problem ever drinking a good burgundy. Admittedly it would be overwhelmed, but I was only offering an option.

                2. Too bad you're hung up on red. Riesling is by far the best match for spicy, Asian flavors.

                  A good German Riesling, of course.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: linguafood

                    Another germanic alternative is either an Austrian Gruner Veltliner or a German grauburgunder.

                    1. re: wattacetti

                      Though mostly paired with spicy southeast Asian fare (Thai, Vietnamese), I've had great success with both very dry Alsatian whites (Riesling, Pinot Blanc) and also off-dry German whites with that noble rot RS (Mosel Riesling, in particular).

                      1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                        The dry Alsatian whites should be good. A decent Gewurztraminer might be a happy pairing too. If you're going to go with a Sauvingnon Blanc you might try one from New Zealand. They don't use any oak, unlike the California producers, & the wine's clearer, sharper, brighter, if that makes any sense.


                    2. re: linguafood

                      Too bad the OP - and so.many.people.in.the.western.world are hung up on having wine to drink with spicy East Asian/Chinese/SE-Asian food, or food with these flavors. It still makes me shake my head after all these years... Drink tea or water.

                      [p.s.: "Asia" is a very big place and "Asian" is always such a vague/misused word to me]

                      1. re: huiray

                        It's not a hang-up. Some people enjoy wine with their Asian food. At our weekly Sichuan jour fixe, I tend to drink beer (Spaten), but I've had lovely Rieslings paired with a variety of Chinese and Thai dishes.

                        1. re: huiray

                          In your opinion what makes "tea or water" an interesting choice versus say wine or beer?

                          1. re: Chinon00

                            They’re more neutral and entirely harmonious with the food.

                            I think Western-style wine (and to a lesser extent beer) clashes with the tastes and flavors of East/SE Asian/Chinese food, especially the spicy varieties and is often a distraction [all that fighting going on] rather than a natural accompaniment. In my view this lies beneath why there is always so much debate and searching for what kind of wine goes with Szechuan/Cantonese/Thai/etcetc food, and relatively hard to properly match one with the other.

                            I can understand that most diners with a Western background grew up drinking wine/beer etc and are accustomed to having wine (or at least some sort of Western-style alcohol) with their food particularly if they wish to feel that the occasion is "special". Some even seem to feel that eating food (any food) without wine is a seriously defective situation. Yes, the Chinese or Japanese (for example) drink alcohol with food too, but the alcohol they drink** is more in keeping with the nature of the food. The Japanese can be pretty serious about their sake – but it just seems better suited as the alcoholic complement with regards to the nature of the food.

                            Cheers. :-)

                            **at least in the traditional sense. "Status symbol drinking" - like Johnny Walker Black Label mixed with Coca-Cola which used to go on at many banquets - is just terrible.

                      2. You need to go with something that will stand up to the spiciness of the menu. Typically that means a sweeter wine than you normally would care for such as a reisling with a small amount of residual sugar. Alternatively you may want to consider a very acidic wine such as a rhone marsanne or if red perhaps a barbera zin or primitivo. I would not go with a burgundy.

                        1. Some years ago, we did an Asian tasting with chef Mark Miller. The hands down favorite, with six Asian dishes (from different countries and regions) was an Iron Horse Brut Rosé sparkler. It was the # 1, or #2 choice with every dish. This was done against a nice SB, two brews, sake, Chardonnay and a Riesling. We both agreed with that placement.



                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            I'm curious - do you remember what "Asian" [whatever that term means] dishes you had, or at least what cuisine those dishes were from? Turkish, Pakistani, Javanese, Szechuanese, Japanese, Peranakan, etc?

                              1. re: Chinon00

                                So, is there a single best specific wine - like Chateau #1 Rosé #2 - for European food?

                                1. re: huiray

                                  If the meal were described as specifically as the OP I'd have zero problem selecting a wine.

                              2. re: huiray

                                That was in 1998, so here goes my memories:

                                Tempura (think shrimp)
                                Sezuan (think it was pork)
                                Sushi (think that was seared ahi)
                                Yellow curry dish (cannot recall, but was in a different style, than Northern Indian, maybe Thai?)
                                Thai Chicken Satay
                                One more?

                                I think that I might have my notes from that event, and will update the list, if I can find them.

                                Sorry that I could not be more specific.