How to Pair Drinks with Exotic Foods


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In some non-Western countries, the main dishes are so rich in flavor that diners need to consider their drink choice carefully. It needs to be just right so as not to detract from the deep flavors of the food while producing a distinct taste of its own at the same time. Below are several tips on how to pair drinks with exotic foods from China, India, and Thailand.

Chinese Food

For those who wish to drink an alcoholic beverage with their Chinese dish, most beers and wines make a good choice. German Riesling wine is especially popular with Szechuan, Sichuan, and other spicy Chinese meals. To achieve the best possible taste combination, it’s important to match the sugar content of the wine with main spices in the food. If the dish falls more on the sweet rather than the spicy side, diners should choose a Riesling flavor with more sugar to complement it. Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris are popular German wine choices to pair with Chinese food as well.

The Chinese dish Dim Sum offers many choices for meat and spices. When selecting a matching drink, diners should consider wines with a higher acidity and weight. The opposite is true when eating Dim Sum with spicier ingredients. Some authentic Chinese meals go better with beer than with wine. Berliner Weisse, Pepe Naro, and Saison all make good choices in this case.

Indian Food

People who eat traditional Indian food regularly often say that the dishes are balanced enough in flavor not to require help from the drink. Although they may not need the bitterness or acidity offered by beer or wine, these drinks can certainly enhance the overall dining experience. Some commonly recommended drink pairings with Indian food include:

  • Creamy curries: Lager beer or red wine
  • Mild vegetable-paneer dishes: Porter beer or chai punch cocktail
  • Spicy vindaloos: Mango mule cocktail or Gruner Veltliner or Loire Valley Chenin Blanc wine
  • Tandoori-Roasted Meats: Saison Dupont wine or Chenin Blanc, Riesling, or Verdelho wine

Thai Food

Food from Thailand has a flavor all its own, namely hot, salty, sour, and sweet. In Thailand, people typically eat all courses of their meal at one time rather than a salad first followed by the main dish and possibly a dessert. Because of this, most natives don’t drink beer or wine with their meal but rather a green tea. However, Thai restaurants in the west typically tone down the hotness and spiciness of food. That means it can go quite well with certain types of alcoholic beverages.

Alsace Pinot Gris is a popular drink choice due to its sweet and musky flavor that goes well with Thai spices. Some other good drink options include:

  • German and Australian Riesling beer
  • Gewurztramier
  • Sylvaner wines
  • Sauvignon Blanc wine
  • Torrontes wine
  • Witbier beer

In addition to these alcoholic beverages, exotic fruit juices and jasmine tea can go well with authentic food from Thailand. Diners who feel they made the wrong choice in pairing their drink with an exotic meal just needs to keep trying until they find the perfect combination.

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