We went for Thai Mussaman Beef Curry from Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey. The recipe includes fish sauce, shrimp paste, lemongrass, palm sugar and black cardamon. We ended up sampling a couple of different wines with it.
First up, we opened a bottle of Waitrose’s Aromatic and Citrus Spanish Dry White. This is made in Galicia from the Airen grape. It was pale gold, crisp with a citrus pineapple creaminess. We thought it improved through the meal and was a good match.
We also opened a bottle of La Pierry Alsace Riesling 2008, a French white we had bought in Alsace. This had a slight sweetness and was very creamy and acidic with peach flavours. We were not impressed with this at first with the food, but found it too improved considerably after a while.
Two examples of how the palate sometimes adjusts favourably to a wine as a meal progresses.
As indicated previously, (see 15th October 2011), we were entertaining guests this evening and had cooked Chicken and Orange Tagine in advance. After freezing and reheating, the citrus and spice flavours became somewhat muted. The dish was still tasty, but not as distinctive. This dumbing down of flavours was also present in the wine we drank with it – Isla Negra Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2011 from Tesco. This is a Chilean white, slightly off-dry with pleasant citrus fruitiness. However, there are much more vibrant and exciting Chilean Sauvignons around than this example. An acceptable pairing though.
We opened a jar of Tom Yum Gung spice paste from the Asian supermarket, added chicken and some other Thai ingredients and enjoyed the famous Thai soup. In the absence of any overtly sweet ingredients in the dish, we thought a dry white would be OK. The description of the Cono Sur Chilean Riesling 2010 from Tesco suggested this wine would be dry. In the event, it proved to be slightly off-dry, but it didn’t matter. It was a very good match. The lemon flavours had an affinity with the lemongrass in the soup. There was also a refreshing spicy tang and a minerally creaminess.
We had an old favourite from Supercook that we had not cooked for a long time – Spicy Chicken Casserole. We’re not sure where this recipe originates from. It combines Indian spices with brown sugar, fruit chutney and cream. We thought reds and dry whites would definitely be out, but we weren’t sure whether to go for a medium-sweet or off-dry white. The only sweetish wine we had was a bottle of Hock from Lidl. One sip told us this was too sweet for the food, so we tried a bottle of Felsner Grüner Veltliner 2008, an Austrian white from Sunday Times Wine Club, which was the only off-dry white we had. The food really brought the tropical fruits, melon and grapefruit in the wine to the fore and there was a lovely spicy tang. An excellent match.
We had a Thai meal comprising Chicken Tom Ka (a coconut chicken soup) and Pad Thai, the famous prawn noodle stir fry. We drank a bottle of the usually reliable McWilliams Hanwood Riesling 2007 from Makro. The slightly off-dry and minerally creaminess was an excellent match with the soup, but the pairing with the Pad Thai was less successful. There were a lot of competing flavours from the sauce, beansprouts, peanuts and coriander leaves.
We had a bottle of Aresti Gewürztraminer 2006, a Chilean White from the Sunday Times Wine Club that we had been looking forward to drinking. I did a lot of research on food and wine matching websites and there is some conflict on good food matches for Gewürztraminer. In the end we went for Kapitan Curry, a Malaysian dish from Rick Stein. This was a lovely meal but its sweetness clashed with the wine. We turned instead to McWilliams Hanwood Riesling 2007 from Makro. This off-dry Australian white is a trusty favourite of ours with many Asian dishes. A much better match for this particular curry.
We enjoyed Crisp Fried Sea Bass with a Tomato, Chilli and Kaffir Lime Leaf Sauce, which we served with Noodles. This is a Vietnamese dish from Rick Stein. We tasted a Citadella Romanian Pinot Grigio 2009 from Sunday Times Wine Club, but were not overly impressed with the combination and set this aside in favour of a McWilliams Hanwood Riesling 2007 from Makro. We have found this off-dry Australian white a reliable match with Asian cuisine and it did not let us down. The right food always seems to bring out a fresh minerally creaminess in the wine.
We ate later and again had convenience food. This time Chicken with more of the Thai Penang curry paste from the oriental supermarket, accompanied by noodles and beansprouts. Very tasty, but what to drink with the meal? We tried a Casa Porta Chilean Carménère 2009 from Costco. Carménères often go well with Indian curries, so we thought we’d try it with a Thai curry. Definitely not! The wine was put aside in favour of a McWilliams Hanwood Australian Riesling 2007 from Makro. An off dry white that was a much better combination that actually enhanced the fruitiness of the wine. Interestingly the label on the back of the bottle says it goes well with Asian food. My experience is that it is better with Thai than Indian or Chinese.