Wine of the Week

A White Wine For Asian Food


I am often asked what wine one should drink with Asian food and the answer, strictly speaking, is none.

Wine and European food have been evolving together in the cradle of the Mediterranean for thousands years. In the process, like a long married couple, they have learned to rub along together pretty well. They suit each other.

The same cannot be said of wine and Asian cuisines. They just don’t share a common history.

Nowadays though, both Asian food and the regular enjoyment of wine are spreading far beyond their original homes and people are looking for ways to bring these two pleasures together.

While it’s not a natural fit, it can—with a bit of imagination—be arranged. This requires the suspension of some well-learned wine prejudices.

For one solution, let us take a look at Riesling—specifically German Riesling from the banks of the river Rhine.

From its source in Switzerland, the Rhine flows in a generally northerly direction, but at the town of Mainz it takes a sharp left turn for 20 miles before resuming its journey to the North Sea.

This is the Rheingau, where the vineyards on the steep right bank of the river face toward the south—and sunshine.

One of the region’s star producers is Josef Leitz, whose Dragonstone Riesling 2010 ($18) I have chosen as this week’s wine of the week. Not only is it a delight in and of itself but also it works so well with Asian food.

It might technically be defined as a sweet wine—remember that need to suspend certain wine prejudices—and it definitely gives the impression of being sweet on the front palate. But as the golden liquor slides back over the tongue, complexities begin to appear; other sensations emerge. Along with the luscious fruit, there is a vibrant acidity that acts like a coiled steel spring that holds the show together and prevents the plump exuberance of the fruit from spilling over into excess.

So the impression is of tart and sweet, grapefruit and melons. It is fragrant with the aromas of jasmine, honeysuckle and tangerine, and one can even taste the slate of the soil in the wine.

This is a wine made for Asian food. I drank it with tuna marinated in soy, sherry, and ginger and then simply grilled. The sweet, rich flavors of the fish played perfect harmony with the sweet/tart wine.

When to Drink: Now
Breathing/Decanting: Not necessary
Food Pairing: Milder Asian food, fruit.
Grapes: 100% Riesling
Appellation: Rheingau
Region: Rheingau
Country: Germany
Price: $18
Availability: Moderate
Web Site: www.leitz-wein.de

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Nick_passmore
Nick Passmore is an independent wine writer and consultant based in New York. For five years he contributed a widely read monthly wine column to Forbes.com, in addition to which his work has appeared in such publications as Forbes, Discover, Town & Country, the Robb Report, Wine Enthusiast, Saveur, Sky, and Golf Connoisseur. He is currently artisanal editor for Four Seasons magazine and contributes a twice monthly column to BusinessWeek.com. He is also a judge at the annual Critics’ Challenge wine competition.

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