August 04, 2021 by Arden Montgomery

Best Wine for Thai Food

Thai cuisine is complex and expresses many different flavor profiles ranging from bold and bright, to sweet and subtle. Even individual dishes can be difficult to nail down, as Thai food often leans on a wild combination of acidity, herbaceousness, spice and unctuousness to create a unique and delicious experience with each bite. 

As you can imagine, pairing wines with such intricate flavors is no easy feat. Wine can prove just as complicated as Thai, and finding a vintage with the right balance to compliment dishes like Tom Yum Goong or Kao Pad gives even accomplished oenophiles quite the challenge.

But it can be done. As with most foods, the right wine pairing can elevate a Thai dish and make both the wine and the accompanying meal a more enjoyable experience. Below, we’re going to show you some basics for pairing wine with Thai, as well as some of our favorite varietals to sip alongside a serving of fresh spring rolls.

How to pair wine with Thai food

Some basic rules of pairing wine with food include:

  • Wines should have higher acidity than the food
  • Wines should have greater sweetness than the food
  • Fatty foods should be balanced with bitter wines (typically reds)
  • Lighter foods should be paired with lighter wines (typically whites)
  • And more

When pairing wine with Thai food, as you might imagine, you have to break some of these rules. Or at least find a way to work around them. Your spicy, sweet, fatty, meaty, aromatic meal is unlikely to have an obvious pairing which meets all of the guidelines above. 

But Thai food is all about balance, in individual dishes as well as a banquet overall, and the best suited wines will maintain the harmony and provide added freshness or depth where it is needed. 

  • Whites are overall the best choice for Thai as they provide the easiest complement by cooling off the spice and contrast the texture of heavier meats and oils. White wines with fruity, tropical flavor profiles also add to the experience.
  • Reds are a bolder choice and must be selected carefully in the presence of Thai. Lighter, straightforward reds are best, as they are able to stand up to the strong flavors of Thai food without overwhelming the more delicate notes. Avoid tannin-heavy reds — they don’t play nice with spice. 

While it’s tempting to follow the rules, don’t be afraid to experiment with wines to find your favorite pairings. The most important thing is that you are enjoying the wine, food and company at your table. 

That said, here are some of our recommendations for wines that go best with Thai food. 

Best red wine for Thai food

  • 2019 Storm Single Vineyard Presqu’ile Gamay
    Produced in the Central Coast of California, this Gamay leads with fruity aromas of raspberry and cherry, and follows with a surprisingly bold palate and a delicate spiciness. This chillable red goes beautifully with pepper heat, and heavy meats fresh off the grill. Sip alongside a skewer of spicy beef satay.
  • 2018 Domaine de La Bonne Tonne Morgon ‘Grands-Cras’
    Created using biodynamic and organic farming practices in Burgundy, France, the Grand Cras offers cranberry both in the nose and on the tongue, complemented by baking spices, violets, cherries, plums, and “smooth tannins” that won’t turn your spicy Thai bitter. This red pairs especially well with roasted poultry and savory fruit. We recommend having a glass the next time you order red curry with duck. 

Best white wine for Thai food

  • 2019 Dönnhoff Estate Dry Riesling
    Made sustainably in Nahe, Germany, this Riesling heavily features lime — a common ingredient in Thai cuisine — in both its aroma and palate. Riesling is already the recommended pairing for most Thai food, and this bottle from Dönnhoff Estate is the dry, mineraly Riesling to accompany a green curry with shrimp, lobster or white fish.
  • 2017 Bernhard Ott Gemischter Satz
    This beautiful blend of five whites (Weissburgunder, Grüner Veltliner, Roter Veltliner, Chardonnay, and Riesling), made using biodynamic farming practices in Kamptal, Austria, has a fruity, citrusy aroma smoothly followed by a fruity, citrusy taste. Pear, green apple and lime blossom give it a subtle yet complex sweetness, perfect for enjoying with Green Papaya Salad or a bowl of spicy Tom Yum on a summer evening.
  • 2019 Bründlmayer ‘Kamptal Terrassen’ Riesling
    Another winning Riesling from Kamptal, Austria, this delicious, dry white wine is citrus-forward with additional flavors including Acacia flower and peach that make it an incredible complement to anything spicy. While best enjoyed alongside seafood or salad, we recommend pairing this Riesling with a generous helping of Thai Larb Gai (chicken with lime, chili and herbs.)

Best rose՛ wine for Thai food

  • 2020 Chateau Barbebelle Aix-en-Provence ‘Cuvée Madeleine’ Rosé
    Floral and fruity with a remarkable body and richness, this blended rose from a woman-owned winery in Provence, France pairs with everything from fresh salads, to savory seafoods, to deep-fried spring rolls. We suggest enjoying at the beginning of your meal with Chicken Satay, or at the end alongside mango and sweet sticky rice.
  • 2017 Weingut Hirsch Hirschvergnugen Gruner Veltliner
    Made in Niederosterreich, Austria using biodynamic farming practices,  this white rose (!) is utterly refreshing and begs to be enjoyed on a Spring afternoon. Enjoy with Pad Thai or a spicy eggplant & tofu stir fry. 

Argaux’s food pairing solution

Argaux makes it easy to find a delicious bottle of wine that pairs perfectly with any dish off your favorite Thai menu. And we make it even easier to match wine to your everyday meals with our Food and Wine Pairing Kit. We’ve collaborated with author Vanessa Price, inspired by her book Big Macs and Burgundy – Wine Pairings for the Real World which gives you a comprehensive guide to wines you should be drinking with everything from grilled salmon to a bag of hot cheetos. Each kit comes standard with this fabulous book, as well as 2 to 4 bottles of hand-picked wine, perfect for an evening of both education and entertainment.

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