For the Vietnamese Asian inspired foods that we typically consume, we find some wines in general work particularly well. White wines, in general pair well, but dry Rieslings, dry Gewurztraminer, dry Rosés, many Viogniers, and Champagne (or Sparkling Whites or Rosés not from Champagne) are our almost no fail go-to’s.
Particularly the slight sweetness of the dry Rieslings and Gewurztraminer handle the spiciness very well. They seem to cleanse ones palate of some of the flames, so that as you eat and sip, your mouth goes “Oooh!” “Ahhh” “Oooh!” “Ahhh!” It becomes a beautiful dance of fire and refreshment.
As much as we love our reds, they often overpower our favorite Asian dishes. We generally try to avoid the heavy, robust, tannic reds. Very spicy dishes with fierce heat definitely clash with these heavier wines. Although with some dishes, such as heavier grilled meats, a softer red wine can still be a nice pairing. The reds that tend to work best for us are Syrahs, Pinot Noir, many Rhone reds (go Gigondas and Chateauneuf de Pape!), and the occasional Zinfandel (it’s one of our dear favorite reds, so we have to try it with everything.)
Often times when we’re smoking or bar-b-que-ing Asian marinated brisket or fatty pork butt/shoulder, we will serve red wines. The heavier, fatty, salty meat dishes have always been complimented by reds such as Zinfandels and one of our favorites, Rhone reds. Our Asian dishes that are heavy on the garlic, spices and fat also calls out for a red wine.
Northern Rhône is cooler than southern Rhône, which means that the mix of planted grape varieties and wine styles are slightly different.
From north to south the appellations in the northern Rhône are:
- Côte-Rôtie AOC – reds of Syrah and up to 20% Viognier.
- Condrieu AOC – whites of Viognier only.
- Château-Grillet AOC – whites of Viognier.
- Saint-Joseph AOC – reds of Syrah and up to 10% Marsanne and Roussanne; whites of only Marsanne and Roussanne.
- Crozes-Hermitage AOC – reds of Syrah and up to 15% Marsanne and Roussanne; whites of only Marsanne and Roussanne.
- Hermitage AOC – reds of Syrah and up to 15% Marsanne and Roussanne; whites of only Marsanne and Roussanne.
- Cornas AOC – reds of Syrah only.
- Saint-Péray AOC – sparkling and still whites of only Marsanne and Roussanne.
Southern Rhone wine. The southern Rhône sub-region has a more Mediterranean climate with milder winters and hot summers.
The southern Rhône’s most famous red wine is Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a blend containing up to 13 varieties of wine grapes (eight red and five white) as permitted by the Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC rules. Other nearby AOC regions including Coteaux du Tricastin AOC, Côtes du Ventoux AOC, Côtes du Vivarais AOC, Lirac AOC, Tavel AOC and Vacqueyras AOC may contain even more varieties in the blend. Gigondas AOC, on the other hand, is predominantly made from Grenache Noir has a more restricted set of permitted grapes. Depending on the specific AOC rules, grapes blended into southern Rhône reds may include Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan and Cinsault. The reds from the left bank are full bodied, rich in tannins while young, and are characterized by their aromas of prune, undergrowth, chocolate and ripe black fruit. The right bank reds are slightly lighter and fruitier.