Off-Dry Whites Work Well with Thai Massaman Curry

2016-03-12 18.33.37We tried Madhur Jaffrey’s version of Beef and Potato Massaman Curry,  a Thai dish.

Pieces of beef skirt are fried with coconut cream, bay leaf and Massaman curry paste, which is made from red chillies, white peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon, shallots, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, curry powder and shrimp paste.

Fish sauce, tamarind, palm sugar, potatoes and water are then added and the curry is simmered.  Fried shallots are sprinkled over before serving.

We attempted to pair the meal with a bottle of Villa Maria Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2014, a New Zealand white from Costco.  However, more sweetness was needed, so we set it aside in favour of a bottle of Awatere Pinot Grigio 2013, an off-dry New Zealand white from Tesco.2016-03-12 18.29.26

We tasted tropical fruits with a pineapple sweetness and grapefruit sharpness. This wine was a reasonably good match with the food.

We tried a bottle of Houghton Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2013, an Australian white from Costco, with the leftovers a couple of days later and thought this was also a good match.  See here for a another good food pairing for this wine.

Various Whites Struggle to Pair Well with a Panang Curry

We bought some Panang or Penang curry paste from Wai Yee Hong, an excellent Oriental supermarket in Bristol that we have previously written about.

We combined the curry paste with chicken, coconut milk, fish sauce, palm sugar, fresh chilli and kaffir lime leaves.  We garnished the curry with Thai basil leaves and served it with Jasmine rice and prawn crackers.  Lovely.

However, we struggled to find the right wine to accompany this dish.  First we tried a bottle of Blind Spot Semillon/Sauvignon Blanc 2012, an Australian white from the Wine Society.IMG_0437

This was fresh, zingy with flavours of grapefruit, lemon and lime, with good acidity and was great to drink on its own.  It was also OK with the food, but we think something off-dry would have gone better.

Here’s the verdict on other wines we tried to match with the dish both on this occasion and a couple of days later with the leftovers:-

  • Les Combelles Colombard/Ugni Blanc 2011, a French white from the Sunday Times Wine Club – reasonable, but not a great match
  • Rawnsley Sauvignon Blanc 2011, an Australian white from Tesco – didn’t work at all
  • Brancott Sauvignon Blanc 2013, a New Zealand white from Costco – acceptable, but not great

So, no stunning matches this time. Interestingly, we had an off-dry Australian Riesling with a Penang curry a few years back and it’s the only decent match we’ve achieved so far.

An Excellent Alsace Riesling is Good with Thai Red Curry

We cooked a Thai red chicken curry using onion, garlic, fresh ginger, coconut milk, green beans and a red curry spice paste from Waitrose. The paste contains garlic, dried and small red chilli, lemongrass, salt, onion, galangal, kaffir lime peel and spices. We garnished the curry with fresh coriander leaves and served it with noodles.

We opened a bottle of Kuentz-Bas Alsace Riesling 2010 from the Wine Society. This was creamy, with tropical fruits, good minerality and tangy lime on the finish. This excellent wine was a good match with the curry.

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Spanish and Alsace Whites Eventually Win Through with Rick’s Mussaman Curry

IMG_0214.JPG (2)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.

A Chilean Sauvignon Only Average with a Thai Curry – Better On its Own

We tried Jean-Christophe Novelli’s Thai Style Chicken Curry recipe from BBC Food.   It was OK, but we have tasted better.

We opened a bottle of Sibaris Undurraga Sauvignon Blanc 2011, a Chilean white from The Wine Society.  There was citrus on the nose and complex flavours of lemons, grapefruit, gooseberries, with minerality.  The wine was alright with the meal, but it was more enjoyable on its own.IMG_0177.JPG (2)

A Consistent New Zealand Sauvignon Good with Jamie’s Green Curry

Our daughter cooked us a slightly modified version of Green Curry from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals.  It had typical Thai flavours and we opened a couple of bottles of Brancott Estate Marlborough New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc 2010 from Costco.

This reliable New Zealand white delivered tropical fruits with citrus lemon and an acidic edge but it was still smooth.  A good match with the meal.

An Aussie Sauvignon is Not Flattered by a Bland Thai Curry

For a quick midweek meal we had a Thai Jungle Chicken Curry made with a jar of spice paste. The ingredients contained a typical mix of Thai spices but without coconut milk, so we thought a dry rather than off-dry white would be a better choice. We found the curry to a bit mediocre, especially in comparison with some of the excellent meals made with Green Curry pastes that we have had before.

The wine pairing was also only average. We opened a bottle of Westend Sauvignon Blanc 2009, an Australian white from the Sunday Times Wine Club and last tasted on 15 January with a Chicken Tagine.  Whilst we enjoyed the tropical fruits and citrus flavours from the wine it didn’t taste as good as with the Tagine.

An Aussie Verdelho Goes Well with a Thai Green Curry

We enjoyed a lovely Thai Green Chicken Curry with potatoes added and served with stir-fried vegetables and rice noodles.  I have written in previous blogs about how we particularly enjoy off-dry Australian Rieslings with this dish.  However, we didn’t have any.  Instead we turned to a bottle of De Bortoli Unoaked Verdeho 2009 from the Sunday Times Wine Club.  We enjoyed a previous bottle of this wine with another Thai dish (see 3rd June 2011) and we agreed that the lime and citrus flavours went just as well with the curry.  Nevertheless, we still believe an off-dry Riesling is a slightly better match.

Marlborough Sauvignon a Good Match with Thai Green Curry

We had the rest of the Thai Green Chicken Curry from the previous evening, augmented with some more coconut milk and spices.  We like a lot of sauce.  We decided to pair it with a New Zealand Sauvignon this time.  A bottle of Montana Marlborough Reserve 2010 from Costco.  Warning!  I think we served this too cold, because we both thought the flavours were a bit muted at first.  As the wine warmed a bit the ripe tropical fruit flavours came to the fore, but it still retained a crisp, clear finish.  We thought it was a very good match with the curry, but not quite as good as the Sauvignon/Semillon we had yesterday.

An Aussie Sauvignon/Semillon Blend is a Hit with Thai Green Curry

We cooked another of Rick Stein’s recipes from his excellent Far Eastern Odyssey.  This time Stir-Fried Green Chicken Curry accompanied by rice noodles.   Lovely recipe, full of typical Thai flavours.   Some say Thai Green Curry pairs well with Aussie or New Zealand Semillons, Sauvignons or combinations of both.  We enjoyed it with a bottle of Westend Estate Riverina Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2009 from Sunday Times Wine Club.   This white delivers aromatic, tropical fruits, together with lemony citrus flavours and was delightfully citrussy and creamy with the curry.