Wine Pairings for Conundrum Cuisines

Beer and Wine, Drinks, Featured Article, How-To, Wine 101
on October 4, 2011
Wine Pairings

Some food and wine pairings are backed by centuries of enjoyment: Generations of wine-drinkers have paired Chianti with robust red-sauced pasta, Champagne with oysters, Syrah with lamb. Other cuisines don’t have such hard-and-fast historical go-withs. And yet, we often crave a glass of wine with them anyway. The question is, which wine?  

I asked Sheri Sauter Morano, one of only 28 Americans to hold the hard-won Master of Wine title, to pair wines for such conundrum cuisines. A few suggestions:

Albariño with Southern Seafood
The South’s rich seafood dishes, such as crab cakes and shrimp and grits, could use Albarino’s citrus notes to balance the richness. Sheri points out that there’s also a subtle sea-salt character to the wine (which hails from coastal Spain) that’s a natural with seafood. Labels to look for: Martin Codax ($15), Licia ($16), Terras Gauda “Abadia de San Campio” $($20).  

Carmenere with Indian Curries
Boldly tannic red wines can clash with Indian curries—the heat just builds and builds. Sheri suggests a Chilean Carmenere. With their great mix of plum and blackberry notes and soft, ripe tannins, these plush sips wine can definitely handle the heat. Labels to look for: Emiliana “Natura” ($11), Santa Rita Reserva ($12), Terra Noble Gran Reserva ($18)

Malbec with Soy-Sauced Chinese
The moderate tannins of fruity Argentine Malbecs can take on your favorite Chinese takeout, even if it’s studded with those feisty red peppers. Sheri also notes that Malbec and soy sauce share that hard-to-describe but infinitely pleasing savory flavor profile known as umami, making them good partners at the table. Labels to look for: Colores del Sol ($12), Gascón ($14), Catena Zapata ($24).