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Red wine with Thai Green Curry?

I'm making a thai green curry with chicken for dinner tonight- but both my guests are red wine drinkers (they flat out don't drink white). What red can I serve with green curry? From what I've read it seems a Zinfandel or Syrah is best bet...any particular one (under $25 preferred) anyone would suggest?

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  1. Any beefy red would work well - I'm thinking particularly Malbec, maybe also Shiraz.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kagemusha49

      Not sure any beefy red would work. Thai Green Curry (with coconut milk) will be v. sweet and v. spicy. If they won't even drink, sparkling.

      A very soft, low-alcoholic bright red would be your best bet. Maybe a new world pinot?

      1. re: jlbwendt

        I was gonna suggest maybe a sparkling rose.

      2. Have your guests ever had Thai food before? If so, ask them what red wine they prefer to drink with it. People who don't drink a certain color of wine "on principle" (don't know what else to call it since most helth-related aversions are to reds, not whites) don't have a right to be particularly choosy IMO.

        I hope you plan to have a white for yourself. If so, suggest they try each wine with the food, and see what they like better.

        1. I went with Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz 2009 and they both liked it. I'm pregnant, which added to the complexity of my question as I couldn't try for myself!

          1. Yeah I understand your friend's preference for red but it leaves little room for pairing due to the tannins inherent in most red wines. Tannins and heat are considered a poor combination.
            In my experience people with rigid preferences usually aren't interested in a proper pairing anyway. So just have on hand what they like and don't stress over it.

            9 Replies
            1. re: Chinon00

              Right. Rigid preferences = wine is just an alcoholic beverage. Leaves little room for actually considering it as part of the meal.

              1. re: Brad Ballinger

                Appreciate that this is a fairly old post now but I thought I would mention that "Wines of Chile" (the promotional body for Chilean wine) are currently pushing the grape variety Carmenere as the perfect match for curry. Some bottles in the UK are coming with a little yellow card wrapped around them with the slogan "Curry & Carmenere - The perfect combination".

                1. re: IndependentWine

                  Yeah, well, sayin' it doesn't it make so.

                  A marketing attempt to tap the London Indian market.

                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    not to mention that "curry" is a term that covers a whole lot of territory and flavors, food-wise. It is not a one-note flavor or dish....

                    1. re: maria lorraine

                      And I misspoke...should have said the thriving UK Pan-Asian food scene.
                      But the marketing strategy is still a trumped-up claim to sell wine.

                    2. re: IndependentWine

                      I think this is a good suggestion. I found one time that a chilled Chinon
                      went very well with a Thai dinner at a restaurant in Paris. Since Chinon
                      (cab franc) and carmenere have the same veggie taste, I would
                      expect that carmenere would also be a good match.

                      1. re: IndependentWine

                        I've been thinking about this post, as I eat a lot of curry during the week and was curious about less traditional wine pairings. I read on a Ridge blog that the writer liked Carignane with Thai green curry. So the experiment:

                        The wine: Meli Carignan 2010
                        Alcoholic nose. First tastes on the palate thin, acidic, tannic with a spicy finish and some heat from the alcohol. As it opened up, dark fruits came through, but still dominated by acids/tannins/alcohol/spices. Suffice to say, not my favorite on its own.

                        The food:

                        Butter Chicken (medium spicy); The wine went very well. The cream in the curry helped make up for the thinness and marked acidity of the wine. The tomatoes in the sauce went well with the acidity in the wine. The spices in the curry complimented the spiciness of the food. The wine tasted better with the curry.

                        Thai Yellow Curry (medium spicy): This was the worst pairing of the night. The yellow curry spices did not go well with the dark fruits in the wine, the sweetness of the coconut milk was jaring against the acids and tannins. The spices in the wine and the curry clashed.

                        Thai Green Curry (hot spicy): Interesting contrast pairing. The green notes, and bellpepper, brought out the fruit in the wine, and the greens of the curry. The spices of the wine and curry melded. However, the end was still a clash with the sweetness of the coconut milk, and the intense heat of the curry, clashing with the tannins and alcohol.

                        Chicken Tikka Masala (medium): Went excellently, even better than the butter chicken. The more intense flavors of the Tikka Masala went well against the dark fruits. The cream was still there to cut the acidity and tannins. Tomatoes and spices of the curry went well with the wine.

                        End Verdict: With cream based curries, Carignane can be a nice pairing as long as the chili heat is somewhat in check. With sweeter, coconut milk based curries, the pairing looses its footing, especially with the milder, less assertive curries.

                        1. re: goldangl95

                          Thanks for that experiment, goldang!
                          I am not much of a curry eater these days, but I do love Butter Chicken and Tikka Masala. I will give this a try.

                    3. re: Chinon00

                      I agree completely. If one insists on a red wine, when a white, or a sparkler would go better, serve them what you have handy - maybe a gifted wine, and tell them that THAT wine was the one recommended. They will not know the difference.



                      With Indian - Pinot Gris and Gewurz, or Pinot Planc with tandoori

                      With spicy Thai - Gewurz

                      With Chinese - Riesling Kabinett or Spatlese/Auslese

                      With Japanese - Sauvignon Blanc

                      23 Replies
                      1. re: collioure1

                        Funny, I've been pairing a number of different Syrahs and Rhone blends with Sichuan Garlic Lamb Hot Pot with outstanding results for years.

                        1. re: PolarBear

                          Sichuan is generally rather spicy. Thus the tannins in your bigger red wines will fight the spices, leaving an unpleasant taste in the mouth.

                          Same principle applies to a real pepper steak (seasoned with lots of black pepper). Drink Gewurztraminer.

                          But some people like tannins and drink red wines well before their time.

                          BTW I am a disciple of Tom Maresca "The Right Wine."

                          And I do get the right wine at home and in restaurants.

                          1. re: collioure1


                            While I very much like your Alsace / German bias, the flavours of those cuisines are simply too diverse for generalisation. Just to play with Chinese, being the cuisine I am most familiar with from that list, pinot noir works very well with Cantonese roast duck or roast pork. Central and Northern China has some excellent red meat dishes which would simply overwhelm a riesling.

                            I suspect the same would go for Indian (North v South, for example) or Japanese (for basic examples of flavour profile variation, from sushi and sashimi to unagi or shabu shabu to beef sukiyaki).

                            1. re: Julian Teoh

                              I don't have a bias. I have a diversified cellar though where I live in France I cannot obtain a few Italian wines I would like with certain of the dishes I make - (Tocai) Friulano, quality Soave, Primitivo (=Zinfandel), Fiano, Greco, Aglianico.

                              I am sure the wines I noted for Asian cuisines will not match every dish from those cuisines. However, they are a very good place to start.

                              The spicing of most Asian food simply discourages tannic red wines. Moreover, most dishes from this part of the world are big on vegetables and lean on meat. That means white wine - or maybe rosé or Beaujolais.

                              Match the wine to the sauce, not to the meat/fish.

                              BTW I'm having tandoori fish at a cooking school on Tuesday. I'm hoping they have a Pinot Blanc. Will report back.

                              1. re: collioure1

                                "The spicing of most Asian food simply discourages tannic red wines."

                                I don't recall any recommendations for a tannic red, e.g. Cab Sauv, Petit Sirah, etc, but as Julian says Pinot Noir is a fine match for the various duck preparations in my experience as wells. I'm afraid most of our Zin would not work due to the high alcohol levels and finding a softer Primitivo would be a challenge.

                                Another of our favorites with many spicy Asian dishes is Grüner Veltliner.

                                1. re: PolarBear

                                  You had cited Syrah and Rhone blends. Even Pinot Noir can be tannic.

                                  Most Chinese dishes contain sugar. That is why the sweet/Granny Smith apple tasting German Rieslings work well.

                                  Here's another vote for semisweet Riesling

                                  1. re: PolarBear

                                    Here's a more comprehensive article that finds us both on track;


                                  2. re: collioure1

                                    I wasn't using bias in a negative sense of the word, more to denote a preference. I will normally head towards the Alsace / German spectrum also if I am having Asian food, but I still have to make an effort to choose food to match.

                                    Equally, I have no issue with your suggestion that wine should be matched to the sauce. However, for the dishes I cited, e.g. the barbecued / roasted meats, the marinade / spicing will accentuate the meaty-umami character of the dish. Same goes for Northern Chinese hot pots, which have very big flavours.

                                    There is a recent trend in Korea for Rhone blends to go with soya sauce-based preparations: http://www.soshiok.com/article/21238. Can't say I've tried it but the possibilities are intriguing.

                                    1. re: Julian Teoh

                                      I agree. When you have more meat on the plate, you can match to that.

                                      NB: matching to the (prominent) sauce is not just a suggestion. It's a principle to be followed with modern, eclectic cooking. I practice it all the time. I open a bottle to go with dinner on night #1. On night #2 I have to make something that goes with the second half of the bottle.

                                      I haven't much experience with these Asian cuisines since I moved to the deep South of France ten years ago. However, back in the US I regularly carried a chilled bottle of Pinot Gris to Indian restaurants. Prior to that I'd had a lot of Chinese meals before I understood which wine matched, but I do understand now.

                                      1. re: collioure1

                                        Again, I wasn't using suggestion in a literal sense, but you get my drift.

                                        Citing Bill Hunt's email below, I have to agree that champagne is a very versatile option, if only for the fact that the bubbles help to cleanse your palate of chilli heat, grease, etc. Here in Singapore, the heat-grease combination is ubiquitous, particularly with the casual "street" foods.

                                        1. re: Julian Teoh

                                          Yes, Champagne works with just about anything. One of the exceptions is very spicy dishes. The other - very rich dishes.

                                          1. re: collioure1

                                            <<One of the exceptions is very spicy dishes. >>

                                            Um-m, not by my palate.

                                            Some years back, Chef Mark Miller did a tasting of Asian cuisine. It ran from mild to very hot, with most regions/countries being represented. We tasted the various dishes with several beverages from Harp Ale to Brut Rosé Champagne. While the group was only 1000, the consensus was that the Brut Rosé Champagne was the "hands-down winner." Of the eight dishes, it only won maybe five, but was # 2 in the rest. Perfect? Maybe not, but very close to it.

                                            We do a lot of spicy dishes (some hot, but mostly heavy on spices), and our choices are:

                                            Brut Rosé Champagne
                                            German Rieslings (the hotter the food, the higher the QmP level)
                                            Pinot Noir


                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                              Well, you love your versatile Brut Rosé Champagne, and I am surprised to learn that it will stand up to the spiciest food, but I do believe your findings above and will consider it in the future.

                                              Usually when I see spicy food, I'm looking for fruit - Gewurz, dry Riesling, lighter Beaujolais crus, but I thank you for another arrow in my quiver

                                              1. re: collioure1

                                                Well, as stated elsewhere, I do enjoy a QmP Riesling (ripeness level depends on both producer and vintage, and then on the levels of spice). Besides the Brut Rosé, I do like my Rieslings.


                                    2. re: collioure1

                                      Sole tandoori at the cooking school this evening.

                                      No Pinot Blanc on list.

                                      So ordered a Gewurz that was semi-dry from René Muré

                                      It worked nicely with the tandoori spices - cumin, coriander, connamon . . .

                              2. re: collioure1

                                You missed Brut Rosé Champagne with most of those.


                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  You have a much more imaginative repertoire than I. As a rule I just try to get the right wine.

                                  Not big on bubbles.

                                  1. re: collioure1

                                    Well, considering there is no single "right" wine . . . .

                                    1. re: collioure1

                                      I work very hard, to "get the wine right," going so far as to do myriad tasting of a dish, when we are hosting, and I am doing the wines. I strive to find the "perfect match," and keep my mind open to wines that might not be on my "normal short list." Luckily, I have a vast cellar, and many good retailers at hand, so a hosted dinner might have had 20 wines tested, just to get the pairings right.


                                  2. re: collioure1

                                    Have to disagree as shown by my post above. At least with many North Indian meat curries, there is no problematic sweet coconut component, and some have a decent but not super hot chili heat and plenty of richness of cream. As a result, they work well with a respectable amount of red wine. The cream counters the tannin aptly, and the chili heat isn't so intense as to make drinking red wine uncomfortable.

                                      1. re: zin1953

                                        New World Pinot Noir with North Indian curry is a favourite with a few friends, and it's a great match-up for those who don't drink white for whatever reason (and out here in Asia, there are quite a few reasons!).

                                        1. re: Julian Teoh

                                          I have found some similar pairing to work for me.

                                          Normally, I first think Brut Rosé Champagne, then GR Riesling, and then New World PN's, but that is just by my palate.


                                  3. "... what red can I serve with green curry..."

                                    Answer: None. Reds in general are yucky matches with thai cuisine...

                                    Hands down the best match for this dish is a riesling or gewurztraminer. Another great choice is a german wheat beer (try konig-ludwig with it's great lemon and clove overtones).