Choosing the best wine with Thai food can be tricky. Thai cuisine is delicious. However, with such a huge variety of dishes, flavors, and spices, it can be difficult to select the right wine pairing for Thai cuisine. Though Keenan Winery President Michael Keenan will be the first to tell you that no one but you know what you like, in this guide, we’ll help you choose the best wine with Thai food. We’ll discuss which wines pair well with spicy Thai dishes, explain common approaches for partnering wine with spicy food, and help you select the best varietal to drink with your next Thai dinner.
Spicy Food and Wine
The first challenge is that spicy food tends to be fruity and delicate. Acidic wines heavy in tannins tend to overwhelm these flavors, so it’s best to choose a beverage that’s more delicate with a lower acidity.
Because spicy dishes tend to create a sensation of heat, it’s usually better to select a wine that can be heavily chilled. The cooling effect of a chilled wine is the perfect complement to a spicy, flavorful meal.
Another issue to consider is alcohol content. Typically, you’ll want to take larger sips of your wine when eating a spicy meal, so a wine with a moderate alcohol content should be selected. This way, you can sip your wine regularly throughout your meal without worrying about overdoing it.
Wine Varietal Recommendations
There are many wine varietals available at Keenan Winery that can be called, “The best wine with Thai food.” Because there are so many choices, it’s difficult to understand which varietal will be the best wine with Thai food. To help you solve this problem, let’s go over some recommendations now.
Many consider the Keenan Summer Blend as the best wine with Thai food and a perfect choice for your spicier Thai dishes and light salads. It’s crisp taste, served chilled, balances perfectly with the Kafir lime, coconut, ginger, garlic and chilies of traditional Thai cooking.
Similarly, the Keenan Chardonnay also could be called the best wine with Thai food due to its well rounded mouth and smooth finish is the ideal companion to Thai chicken dishes, curries and soups.
If your menu selection includes red meats such as beef or pork:
The 2013 Cabernet Franc features a flavor profile with relatively low acidity, and it chills well. Though Cabernet Franc is often recommended for rich, fatty foods like duck, it also pairs very well with spicy foods, such as Thai curries and noodle dishes. The bright, fruity taste of Cabernet Franc helps accent the peppery notes and unique flavors in Thai food, making this a fantastic choice for your next Thai dinner.
Another “best wine with Thai food” is the Merlot, like the 2013 Merlot Napa Carneros, is another great choice—especially for milder Thai dishes. This Merlot has a balanced, full-bodied character with fruity, berry aromas and a fantastic feeling in your mouth. We recommend pairing Merlot with pork or beef dishes, as these richer, fattier meats help accent the unique character of the wine. Choose one of these two above varietals, and you’re sure to find the perfect pair for your next Thai meal.
Best Wine with Thai Food
There are many factors to consider when selecting the best wine with Thai food. Acidity, flavor balance, ABV, and more must be considered. In total, there are dozens of varietals that may be appropriate.
However, if you must choose just a single varietal, we would recommend a Merlot. Either the 2013 Merlot Napa Carneros or the 2013 Merlot Napa Valley will pair perfectly with your next Thai meal. Both wines are relatively low in tannins and feature a well-balanced and versatile flavor profile.
In addition, Merlot can be chilled to accompany heavily spiced dishes, and it features fruity aromas that can help accent the diverse, complex flavors of Thai cuisine. So, reach for a Merlot next time you have Thai for dinner, and you’ll have a truly exceptional dining experience. This is especially nice for red wine lovers who steer away from the traditional white pairing with spiced foods.
Taste Experience for Spicy Foods
Pairing wine with spicy foods can be difficult. The problem lies in balancing the heat of your food with the flavor of your wine, so let’s discuss some of the basics about the wine taste experience for spicy foods.
First, you should not try to use wine to “cool” your mouth. Neither water or alcohol can mellow the “burn” caused by capsaicin, the active ingredient in spicy Capsicum peppers. Instead, water and alcohol serve to accentuate this feeling of heat, according to the American Chemical Societ
Excessively spicy food can also make it difficult to have a great taste experience. To solve this problem, we recommend ordering Thai food with only a moderate level of spiciness and understanding your own tolerance for spicy foods. Don’t try to use your chosen wine to cover up the spicy flavors. Instead, sip it slowly and regularly to accent the fiery, peppery accents of your selected dish. Of course, the best way to cool a spicy tongue and clear your palate when eating hot Thai food is RICE!
Types of Thai Food
Most American Thai food is primarily influenced by the regions of Bangkok and Central Thailand. Popular types of Thai food that come from these regions include a large variety of curries, usually heavily spiced and based on coconut milk. Other dishes include classic noodle dishes, like Pad Thai and Pad See-Ew, and a variety of rice dishes.
Today, authentic Thai food is available just about everywhere in the United States. Though dishes may vary based on your chosen restaurant and region, all Thai dishes share the same focus on fresh ingredients and complex, spicy flavors.